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Cablegate: Farc Mutiny Leads to Death of Secretariat Member

VZCZCXYZ0022
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #1014 0771701
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 171701Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1940
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0114
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR 9324
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 6015
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 1402
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6671
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4342
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNDTA/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1905

UNCLAS BOGOTA 001014

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PTER CO
SUBJECT: FARC MUTINY LEADS TO DEATH OF SECRETARIAT MEMBER
IVAN RIOS; CONTROVERSY OVER REWARD PAYMENT

1. Summary: The murder of Ivan Rios by one of his own men on
March 6 could encourage further FARC desertions. A decision
on whether to prosecute Rojas for murdering his commander has
yet to be made, but many GOC officials do not want the
Prosecutor General to file charges. The GOC has decided to
pay Rojas a reward for the recovery of Rios' computer and
other information. The Colombian military believes paying
the reward will lead to additional informants stepping
forward. To date, neither Rojas nor any GOC officials have
asked the USG to pay Rojas a reward under the Narcotics
Rewards Program. End Summary.

ASSASSINATED BY ONE OF HIS OWN
------------------------------

2. On March 8, Pedro Pablo Montoya Cortes ("Rojas"), a FARC
member responsible for the security of FARC Secretariat
member Jose Juvenal Velandia ("Ivan Rios"), arrived at a
Colombian military camp in Caldas department claiming to have
killed Rios. Rojas brought Rios' passport, national identity
card, computer--and his severed right arm. Rojas claimed to
have killed Rios on March 6. Rojas said he murdered Rios due
to his fear of an imminent Colombian military attack on the
47th FARC front, as well as discontent over the front's lack
of supplies. He and his colleagues had not eaten in days.
"It was either his life or ours," Rojas said, "the only way
to survive, was to kill the commander."

REWARDS AND PROSECUTION
-----------------------

3. On March 14, the Ministry of Defense decided to pay Rojas
a portion of the five billion Colombian pesos ($2.7 million)
reward offered by the GOC for information on the location of
FARC leaders charged with terrorism, kidnapping, and other
crimes. The Ministry stressed that the payment was for Rojas'
handover of Rios' computer, USB sticks, and other
information--not for Rios' death. Defense Minister Juan
Manual Santos told the press the GOC had to pay Rojas the
reward or risk being seen as untrustworthy by other potential
deserters.

4. Santos took no position on whether the Prosecutor
General's office (Fiscalia) should charge Rojas with Rios'
murder. Prosecutor General Mario Iguaran told the press,
"the final decision on whether to file criminal charges will
be made after the human rights unit of the Fiscalia meets to
discuss the case."

EFFECTS ON THE FARC
-------------------

5. El Tiempo reports that senior military officials agreed
with Santos' decision, saying "we ought to comply with our
commitment to reward those that collaborate in the capture
and take down of heads of armed groups." Many military
officers believe the reward payment will prompt a decline in
FARC morale, leading other FARC members to turn on their
commanders. Citing unnamed sources, weekly magazine "Cambio"
claims Colombian military officers encouraged Rojas to kill
Rios after Rojas' efforts to provide the military with Rios
precise location proved too difficult.

USG EQUITIES
------------

6. The USG issued an indictment for Ivan Rios on March 12,
2006, for narcotics trafficking. Rojas might qualify for a
reward of up to $5 million under the State Department's
Narcotics Rewards Program, but we have received no request to
date for the reward from Rojas or the GOC.
Brownfield

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