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Cablegate: Colombian Forces Kill Farc's Key Leader, Spurring

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144052 2008-03-04 00:29:00 08BOGOTA800 Embassy Bogota CONFIDENTIAL VZCZCXYZ0124\
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DE RUEHBO #0800/01 0640029\
ZNY CCCCC ZZH\
P 040029Z MAR 08\
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA\
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1644\
INFO RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 1336\
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR 9268\
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8067\
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0040\
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6613\
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1224\
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 0634\
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 2435\
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN PRIORITY 1414\
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 2132\
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 2379\
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 0129\
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4313\
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY\
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY\
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY\
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY\
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY\
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY\
C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 000800 \
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SIPDIS \
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SIPDIS \
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/04/2018 \
TAGS: PHUM PREF PREL PTER CASC SP PM FR VZ SZ CO
CI, AR, EC, BR \
SUBJECT: COLOMBIAN FORCES KILL FARC'S KEY LEADER, SPURRING \
REGIONAL TENSIONS \
\
Classified By: Political Counselor John S. Creamer. Reason: 1.4(b,d) \
\
------- \
Summary \
------- \
\
1. (U) Summary: The GOC announced March 1 that its military \
forces killed Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) \
Secretariat member Raul Reyes in a cross-border operation in \
\
SIPDIS \
Ecuador. Reyes' death shattered the FARC's myth of \
invincibility, and boosted popular support for President \
Uribe's democratic security strategy. Venezuela and Ecuador \
accused Colombia of violating international law, with both \
deploying troops to their borders. Latin countries urged a \
diplomatic solution to the rising tensions. The GOC made \
public evidence from computer files found at Reyes' camp \
revealing Venezuelan and Ecuadorian government ties to the \
FARC. The GOC plans to provide the evidence to the OAS which \
will hold an emergency meeting on March 4. France voiced \
concern that Reyes' death would harm prospects for a \
humanitarian exchange, but local media reported the FARC \
issued a statement saying it would continue efforts to \
achieve a humanitarian accord. End Summary. \
\
------------------------------------- \
Reyes Death a Blow to FARC Leadership \
------------------------------------- \
\
2. (U) On March 1, Colombian forces killed Luis Edgar Devia \
Silva (aka Raul Reyes), a leading FARC Secretariat member, in \
an air and ground strike against a FARC camp located 1.8 \
kilometers inside Ecuador. Reyes had often traveled abroad \
to garner political support and was a likely successor to the \
FARC's octogenarian leader, Manuel Marulanda. His death is \
viewed as a significant blow to the leadership and morale of \
the FARC. Seventeen FARC members and one Colombian solder \
were also reportedly killed in the operation. The GOC said \
Reyes was wanted in connection with 57 murders, four \
kidnappings, and 26 counts of terrorism and rebellion. \
\
------------------------------ \
Positive but Cautious Reaction \
------------------------------ \
\
3. (U) Colombian media and the general public reacted \
positively to Reyes' death. Former Colombian President \
Ernesto Samper said Uribe's tough policies were "showing \
results;" security analyst Alfredo Rangel said Reyes' death \
was a "devastating blow" to its "myth of invulnerability." \
Opposition Senator Gustavo Petro speculated that the army's \
"greatest military success" could lead the FARC to seek \
alternatives to end the war. Former President and Liberal \
party leader Cesar Gaviria said he fully supports GOC actions \
and asked Venezuelan President Chavez to respect the \
Colombian president. \
\
4. (C) Colombia's daily, El Tiempo, reported that the FARC \
issued a statement saying it would continue efforts to \
achieve a humanitarian accord. Catholic Bishops' Conference \
Secretary Fabian Marulanda called on the FARC to accept the \
\
SIPDIS \
Church's invitation to engage in dialogue on a humanitarian \
exchange. Hostage family members, including Ingrid \
Betancourt's son, expressed concern about the fate of family \
members after the attack. French President Nicholas Sarkozy \
called for Betancourt's immediate release and said \
"humanitarian concerns should prevail." French Foreign \
Minister Bernard Kouchner said Reyes' death was "bad news" \
for the hostages. Reyes was the main contact for French and \
Swiss negotiators Noel Saenz and Jean Pierre Gontard, as well \
as longtime Colombian politician Alvaro Leyva. Still, Reyes \
was a FARC hardliner who did little to advance a humanitarian \
\
exchange. \
\
-------------------------------- \
Regional Reaction Stirs Tensions \
-------------------------------- \
\
5. (U) Regional reactions were heated as Chavez paid tribute \
to his "fellow revolutionary" and accused the GOC of \
murdering Reyes due to U.S. pressure. He accused the GOC of \
violating Ecuador's sovereignty, warning that any incursion \
into Venezuelan territory would be "cause for war." Chavez \
ordered ten army battalions to the border with Colombia and \
closed Venezuela's embassy in Bogota. Ecuadorian president \
Rafael Correa initially announced he had been informed in \
advance of the operation but later accused the GOC of "lying" \
about the incident. Correa ordered Ecuadorian troops to \
deploy to its northern border, withdrew Ecuador's Ambassador \
in Bogota, and expelled the Colombian Ambassador in Quito. He \
called the attack on Reyes' camp a "massacre." \
\
6. (C) Former Cuban President Fidel Castro accused the U.S. \
of helping plan the attack to fuel a regional crisis while \
Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega condemned the GOC for \
killing the peace process. The Brazilian government \
condemned the military strike and called on Bogota to offer \
an explicit apology to Ecuador for its "territorial \
violation." It also suggested the OAS form a committee to \
investigate the circumstances of the attack. At Ecuador's \
request, the OAS Permanent Council will meet hold an \
emergency session on March 4. Colombian Defense Minister \
Juan Manuel Santos told us the GOC would use the session to \
highlight Venezuela's and Ecuador's support of the FARC. \
\
--------------------------------------------- - \
GOC Concerned about Some Regional Ties to FARC \
--------------------------------------------- - \
\
7. (U) Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo apologized for \
Colombia's incursion into Ecuadorian territory on March 2, \
but said the GOC abided by all international laws in its \
operations. Colombian National Police director Oscar Naranjo \
later revealed the contents of computer files found at Reyes' \
camp which showed communications between Ecuadorian Internal \
Security Minister Gustavo Larrea and the FARC aimed at \
"formalizing" the GOE's relations with the terrorist group. \
The GOE denied the accusations. \
\
8. (U) At a March 3 press conference, Naranjo announced \
evidence indicating the Venezuelan government provided the \
FARC with $300 million. He also claimed the FARC gave Chavez \
$50,000 after his failed coup attempt in 1992. Naranjo said \
the computer files showed the FARC purchasd 50 kilograms of \
uranium and sold 700 kilograms of cocaine worth $1.5 million. \
Casa Narino spokesman Cesar Mauricio Velasquez said that all \
evidence would be handed over to the OAS and the United \
Nations for international verification. Vice President \
Francisco Santos Calderon accused unnamed governments of \
"deliberately violating" UN Security Resolution 1373 which \
prohibits members states from hosting groups that finance, \
plan or commit acts of terrorism. \
Brownfield \

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