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Cablegate: Goc Reaches Out to Farc, but Will Continue

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DE RUEHBO #2578/01 1982038
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P 162038Z JUL 08
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3641
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 002578

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/16/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PTER PHUM CO
SUBJECT: GOC REACHES OUT TO FARC, BUT WILL CONTINUE
MILITARY PRESSURE ON GROUP

REF: BOGOTA 2506

Classified By: Political Counselor John Creamer
Reasons 1.4 (b and d)

SUMMARY
-------
1. (C) Peace Commissioner Restrepo told us the GOC has
reached out to establish direct contact with the FARC, but
does not feel any pressure to move quickly on a peace
process. The GOC believes Cano is isolated from other
Secretariat members, and will continue military efforts to
kill or capture him. Restrepo said the GOC must force Cano
to understand that negotiations offer the only way out for
the FARC (and for him); the GOC is prepared to provide Cano
and other FARC leaders a "dignified" exit. Despite ruling
out further international facilitation, Restrepo said the GOC
could consider an international accompaniment or verification
role once a serious process begins. The GOC remains willing
to talk with the ELN, but sees little prospect as long as ELN
leaders reside in Venezuela. End summary.

FARC REJECTS GOC TALKS--SUGGESTS NICARAGUA
------------------------------------------
2. (U) The FARC Secretariat issued a letter June 26 that
stated the group would not directly negotiate with the GOC,
and instead wanted a meeting with Nicaraguan President Daniel
Ortega to discuss "issues of war and peace." The letter,
addressed to Ortega, thanked "Commandante Daniel" for his
"support through these difficult moments" and for providing
asylum to two FARC fighters brought to Nicaragua after the
March 1 attack against FARC number two Raul Reyes in Ecuador.
In a July 5 communique, the Secretariat admitted that the
GOC's July 2 rescue of 15 hostages was a "reversal," but
insisted the group would continue its fight. The Secretariat
reiterated its interest in a humanitarian exchange of
"political" hostages for FARC members captured by the GOC,
but did not mention its long-standing demand that talks on
such an exchange be conditioned on the GOC's demilitarization
of Pradera and Florida municipalities.

GOC REMAINS READY TO TALK
-------------------------
3. (C) Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo told us July
11 that the GOC remains committed to pursuing direct talks
with the FARC and has reached out to FARC leader Alfonso Cano
(reftel). If the FARC responds positively to the GOC
overture, the GOC will send an emissary to lay the groundwork
for an eventual FARC-Restrepo meeting. The GOC would not
insist on a FARC release of hostages as condition for talks,
because the GOC knows the FARC would not accept this. Still,
Restrepo said the GOC does not feel any need to move quickly
on talks with the group. Instead, it will try to establish
contact and allow Cano to analyze his deteriorating
situation. Restrepo stressed that the GOC will continue
military operations to kill or capture Cano. The GOC needs
to force Cano to understand that talks are the FARC's (and
his) only way out.

INTERNAL FARC PROBLEMS AS OBSTACLE
----------------------------------
4. (C) Restrepo said Cano remains isolated, and has little
support from, or contact with, other members of the
Secretariat. The isolation creates opportunities that the
GOC may be able to exploit, especially if military pressure
can further break FARC command and control systems. The GOC
is prepared to offer Cano and other FARC leaders a
"dignified" way out of the armed struggle, but does not want
to fall into the trap of allowing the FARC to use peace talks
to rebuild its military capacity. Restrepo said a major
obstacle to a successful peace process is Cano's continued
commitment to a "Leninist" approach to politics.

GOC: POSSIBLE FUTURE ROLES FOR INTERMEDIARIES
--------------------------------------------- -
5. (C) The GOC does not need or want international or
domestic facilitators with the FARC, but has not ruled out a
future international "accompaniment" or verification role if
the FARC begins to negotiate in good faith. Restrepo said
that Operation "Checkmate" freed the GOC from French and U.S.
pressure to advance on an humanitarian accord. He added that
Alvaro Leyva, Carlos Lozano, Frenchman Noel Saenz, and Swiss

BOGOTA 00002578 002 OF 002


Jean Pierre Gontard had not been reliable facilitators.

6. (C) Restrepo said the French accepted the GOC 's
revocation of their facilitation role with more grace than
the Swiss, who insisted on continued engagement. On June 15,
Prosecutor General Mario Iguaran announced an investigation
against Gontard for allegedly carrying $500,000 in cash for
the FARC. The Swiss Foreign Ministry issued a press release
on July 14 denying the charges and calling on the GOC to
"cease its attacks" against Gontard.

GOC: ELN INCAPABLE OF TAKING DECISION ON PEACE
--------------------------------------------- --
7. (C) Vice Minister of Defense Sergio Jaramillo told us a
successful peace process with the ELN remains impossible,
because ELN leaders lack the capacity to take decisions and
do not control the group's armed fronts. The ELN remains
weak militarily, but some fronts in Arauca, Cauca, and Narino
have strengthened due to their heavy involvement in
narcotrafficking. Jaramillo said the ELN is better than the
FARC at political organizing, but added that its leaders do
not have a vision of what role they might play in a
democratic Colombia.

8. (C) Restrepo said key ELN leaders view Colombian
realities through a Venezuelan lens and therefore feel little
pressure to move on peace. Moreover, they will not enter
into a peace process that is not linked to the FARC.
Restrepo said ELN fronts cooperate with the FARC on
narcotrafficking in some areas, and maintain a political
profile in Arauca, Catatumbo, Narino, and southern Choco due
to narcotrafficking. ELN leaders continue to pursue their
old strategy of seeking contact with civil society and the
international community instead of with the GOC. Still,
Restrepo said the GOC would meet with the ELN if an
opportunity presented itself--a scenario which would likely
only occur if ELN leaders were forced to leave Venezuela.

BROWNFIELD

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