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Cablegate: No Progress in Goc Peace Overtures to Farc and Eln

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INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8333
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RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY

id: 166755
date: 8/20/2008 18:51
refid: 08BOGOTA3079
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: SECRET
destination: 08BOGOTA3015
header:
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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #3079/01 2331851
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 201851Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4262
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8333
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0909
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 6476
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 2193
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 7162
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY


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S E C R E T BOGOTA 003079

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/13/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PTER PHUM CO
SUBJECT: NO PROGRESS IN GOC PEACE OVERTURES TO FARC AND ELN

REF: BOGOTA 3015

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

SUMMARY
-------
1. (C) Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo told us the
GOC continues efforts to contact FARC leader Alfonso Cano to
start peace talks, but has made no progress. Restrepo's
contact with the group communicated with lower-level FARC,
but has not obtained a meeting with the FARC leader.
Restrepo reiterated that the GOC feels no pressure to begin
talks, and will continue efforts to promote the mass
demobilization of individual FARC fronts. Father Dario
Echeverri said the Church continues its outreach to Cano, but
has not made contact. Restrepo and Echeverri told us
separately that prospects for renewed talks with the ELN are
slim due to the group's internal divisions and the negative
influence of President Chavez. Meanwhile, a 50 member ELN
splinter group demobilized in Choco department. End Summary.


PEACE COMMISSIONER: NO CONTACT WITH FARC LEADERS
--------------------------------------------- ----
2. (C) Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo told us the
GOC has made no progress in making direct contact with FARC
leader Alfonso Cano. Restrepo's "contact" exchanged messages
with lower-level FARC who claim Pablo Catatumbo and Cano are
interested in meeting, but added that "the security
conditions" were inadequate. If the contact obtains a
meeting with Cano, his message will simply be that the GOC
(Restrepo) remains ready to meet with the FARC to discuss a
peace process.

3. (S) Restrepo said the GOC sees no signs that Cano is
ready to talk peace. The Cubans claim Cano wants to
negotiate, but that FARC military leader Mono Jojoy remains
opposed. In intercepted internal FARC communications Cano
consistently takes a hard line against the GOC and peace
talks. Leftist Polo Democratico Senator Gustavo Petro told
us separately there is no chance of a peace process with the
FARC, since the group is betting on outlasting President
Alvaro Uribe and dealing with a new government. Vice
Minister of Defense Sergio Jaramillo also voiced skepticism
about a FARC process, noting that in intercepted internal
FARC communications, FARC officials said Venezuelan Interior
Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin told them President Hugo
Chavez' statement that the FARC should lay down its arms was
tactical and did not signify a shift in GOV policy. With
continued Venezuelan support, the FARC would feel even less
pressure talk.

4. (C) Restrepo said the GOC feels no pressure to start
talks, noting that it would be difficult to envision a focus
for the discussions. The GOC does not want to negotiate
political reforms with the group, but might consider a
political/economic reform package parallel to a peace
process. Transitional justice issues would be extremely
contentious, since most FARC leaders face serious human
rights charges.

CATHOLIC CHURCH CONTINUES OUTREACH EFFORTS
------------------------------------------
5. (C) Restrepo said the GOC authorized the Catholic Church
to continue its outreach to the FARC, but has heard nothing
from Father Dario Echeverri. Echeverri told us separately
that Restrepo's contact with the FARC is Henry Acosta, a
left-wing politician from Valle de Cauca department. He
recently met with Acosta, who showed him a draft negotiations
proposal prepared in November, 2007 by FARC commander Pablo
Catatumbo. Acosta said he had presented the proposal to
Uribe, but received no response. Echeverri said the contents
of the proposal--including a constituent assembly-- appeared
reasonable and could serve as the basis for discussions.
Still, he conceded the FARC is much weaker today than ten
months ago. Echeverri added that the Church continues its
own outreach to Cano, and believes these efforts have greater
prospects for success than the Acosta channel.

GOC LOOKS FOR LARGE-SCALE FARC DEMOBILIZATIONS
--------------------------------------------- -
6. (C) With global peace talks with the FARC over the next
two years highly unlikely due to the group's lack of
political vision, Restrepo said the GOC will continue to
promote the mass demobilizations of individual fronts. FARC
commander Fabian Ramirez broke contact with the GOC after
Operation Jaque, but Restrepo said he has received an
overture from the FARC western block operating in Choco,
Risaralda, and western Antioquia departments. The message
was confusing, but Restrepo said the GOC will pursue the
opening. He added that the GOC was coordinating military,
intelligence and negotiating efforts on the 9th FARC
front--among others--to persuade them to demobilize en masse.
Vice Minister Jaramillo confirmed the GOC is targeting
individual fronts to persuade them to demobilize.

WORRY OVER FARC ATTACKS
-----------------------
7. (C) Military Operations Chief (J3) General Carlos Saavedra
told us FARC capabilities remain limited around Bogota and
other major urban areas. Still, the August 14 bombing near
Medellin that killed 7 and wounded more than 50 (reportedly
carried out by FARC 18th Front), plus a series of small
attacks near Bogota, has raised fears the groups could be
planning an offensive--likely sing terrorist tactics rather
than conventional attacks against military targets. (See
Reftel on EAC results.)

ELN PROCESS GOING NOWHERE
-------------------------
8. (C) Restrepo told us the ELN appears committed to
continuing the armed struggle, and dismissed prospects for
renewed talks. ELN Central Committee (COCE) member Pablo
Beltran is trying to go to Havana to revive the
Havana-Caracas air bridge for ELN leaders. Petro said Uribe
should be more interested in an ELN process, but conceded
that restarting talks would be difficult due to internal ELN
divisions, a lack of realism within the group, and the
negative influence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Echeverri agreed the ELN remains intransigent, adding that
the group's Eastern Block (Arauca, Boyaca, Casanare) has
effectively declared its independence from the COCE.

9. (U) The ELN issued a communique August 11 stating "it
would be very difficult to move forward a peace process" with
the GOC. Meanwhile, 45 members of an ELN spin-off group, the
"Revolutionary Guevara Army (ERG)," demobilized en masse in
Choco due to increased military pressure. The ERG turned
over 31 rifles and other arms. Restrepo said the group,
which split from the ELN in 1990s and carried out kidnappings
and other crimes in Choco, would be eligible for Justice and
Peace Law benefits.

BROWNFIELD

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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