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Cablegate: Colombia: 1989 Annual Terrorism Report

P 161741Z DEC 89
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1344
INFO DIA WASHDC
DEA WASHDC
CIA WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
USCINCSO QUARRY HEIGHTS PN
AMEMBASSY CARACAS
AMEMBASSY QUITO
AMEMBASSY LIMA
AMEMBASSY LA PAZ

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 19513

STATE FOR S/CT WHARTON

SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

DIA FOR OA-5/OS-1D/DB-6D2/JSI-4B/DB-3C1

E.O. 12356: N/A
TAGS: KPRP PTER CO
SUBJECT: COLOMBIA: 1989 ANNUAL TERRORISM REPORT

REF: A. STATE 363024; B. 88 BOGOTA 19003
C. BOGOTA 18301


1. COLOMBIA HAS A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT WHICH IS UNDER
ATTACK BY THREE SUBNATIONAL GUERRILLA GROUPS AND BY
NARCOTICS TRAFFICKERS. THE COUNTRY IS THE VICTIM OF
SUSTAINED TERRORIST ATTACKS AND THE FOE OF BOTH
GUERRILLA AND NARCOTICS-RELATED TERRORISM. THE
GOVERNMENT OF VIRGILIO BARCO EMERGED IN 1989 AS THE
STANDARDBEARER IN THE INTERNATIONAL FIGHT AGAINST THE
CRIMINAL POWER OF NARCOTERRORISTS.

2. THE COUNTRY'S INSTITUTIONS ARE THREATENED THROUGH
FREQUENT ATTACKS BY INSURGENTS ON RELATIVELY SMALL RURAL
TOWNS AND POLICE STATIONS. IN 1989 THE MILITARY'S
INCREASED AGGRESSIVENESS SCORED MORE FREQUENT SUCCESSES
AGAINST SUBVERSIVES. AS A RESULT, THE RELATIVE BALANCE
OF FORCES BETWEEN THE GUERRILLAS AND THE MILITARY HAS
MOVED IN THE GOVERNMENT'S FAVOR, CULMINATING IN A
NOVEMBER OFFENSIVE THAT RESULTED IN THE HIGHEST NUMBER
OF GUERRILLA FATALITIES ON RECORD FOR SIMILAR ACTIONS.
THIS IS MOSTLY DUE TO PRESIDENT BARCO, WHO HAS
IMPLEMENTED CHANGES THAT HAVE ENHANCED SUBSTANTIALLY THE
EFFECTIVENESS OF THE ARMED FORCES. WE EXPECT THESE
IMPROVEMENTS TO CONTINUE. IN 1989, THE BARCO
ADMINISTRATION ENGAGED A FOURTH SUBNATIONAL GUERRILLA
GROUP IN PEACE TALKS, UNDER THE TERMS OF THE PEACE
INITIATIVE PROMULGATED BY THE GOC IN SEPTEMBER 1988.
THESE PEACE TALKS APPEARED CLOSE TO FRUITION IN NOVEMBER
1989, AS THIS GUERRILLA GROUP AGREED TO DEMOBILIZE,
DISARM AND BECOME A LEGAL POLITICAL PARTY.

3. INSURGENT VIOLENCE CAN BE CONSIDERED INTERNATIONAL
ONLY TO THE EXTENT THAT ONE GROUP'S ACTIVITIES HAVE AT
TIMES CROSSED COLOMBIA'S BORDER INTO VENEZUELA, TO CARRY
OUT KIDNAPPING AND EXTORTION SCHEMES, AND TO THE EXTENT
THAT THE GROUPS RECEIVE INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT, INCLUDING
TRAINING. CUBA PROVIDES TRAINING TO ALL MAJOR COLOMBIAN
GUERRILLA GROUP AND AN UNDETERMINED NUMBER OF COLOMBIANS
TRAVEL THERE EACH YEAR, WHERE THEY TRAIN WITH
SUBVERSIVES FROM OTHER NATIONS.

4. ANOTHER SOURCE OF TERRORIST VIOLENCE EMANATES FROM
THE NARCOTRAFFICKERS. WHILE POLITICS IN NOT THE MAIN
MOTIVE, VIOLENCE INSTIGATED BY NARCOS DELIVERS A
POLITICAL IMPACT, CHARACTERIZED BY INTIMIDATION OF
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS (ESPECIALLY THE JUDICIARY),
INSTITUTIONS AND SUCH OPINION MAKERS AS THE MEDIA.
NARCOTERRORISM DOES HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL CHARACTER
SINCE THE TRAFFICKERS USE VIOLENCE TO EXTEND THEIR
NETWORK AND INFLUENCE BEYOND COLOMBIA, INCLUDING THE
UNITED STATES.

5. THE GOVERNMENT'S 1989 CAMPAIGN AGAINST
NARCOTERRORISM CHANGED DRAMATICALLY THE SITUATION IN
1988 WHEN THE GOC FAILED TO FIND A WAY TO REIMPOSE
EXTRADITION. MOST OFFICIALS CONSIDERED IT TOO DANGEROUS
(SEE REFTEL C). CONTINUED NARCO TERRORISM IN 1989,
GALVANIZED GOVERNMENT RESOLVE AND PUBLIC OPINION AGAINST
THE NARCOTICS TRAFFICKERS. AFTER INCREASED VIOLENCE
AGAINST JUDGES AND THE KILLING OF THE CHIEF OF POLICE
AND GOVERNOR OF THE REGION AROUND MEDELLIN, THE BARCO
ADMINISTRATION IMPLEMENTED UNPRECEDENTED MEASURES
AGAINST NARCOS, UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF PRESIDENTIAL
DECREE POWERS INVOKING COLOMBIA'S STATE OF SIEGE LAWS.
ON AUGUST 18 JUST AS THE ADMINISTRATION WAS ADOPTING A
NEW AND TOUGHER STANCE, THE NARCOS ESCALATED THE
VIOLENCE FURTHER BY ASSASSINATING THE LEADING CANDIDATE
FOR PRESIDENT. THE PRESIDENT'S MEASURES ENHANCED AND
STRENGTHENED THOSE ADOPTED BY THE BARCO ADMINISTRATION
IN NOVEMBER 1988 (REFTEL B), WHICH INCLUDED THE
IMPOSITION OF MANDATORY LIFE SENTENCES ON THOSE GUILTY
OF KILLINGS IN THE COURSE OF TERRORIST ATTACKS. THE
TOUGH ANTI-NARCO DECREES PROMULGATED BY THE GOVERNMENT
ON AUGUST 19, 1989 PROVIDED AMONG OTHER THINGS FOR
EXTRADITION AND ASSETS FORFEITURE OF NARCOTRAFFICKERS.
THERE FOLLOWED A SERIES OF MASSIVE RAIDS AGAINST LARGE
NARCO PROPERTIES AND OF EXTRADITION OF A NUMBER OF
INDIVIDUALS WANTED IN THE UNITED STATES FOR
NARCOTRAFFICKING AND/OR MONEY LAUNDERING.

6. NARCOTERRORISTS RETALIATED WITH BOMBINGS IN
COLOMBIA'S MAJOR CITIES AND WITH THE SELECTIVE
ASSASSINATION OF OPINION MAKERS (A CONGRESSMAN, THREE
MAGISTRATES AND SEVERAL JOURNALISTS) WHO WERE IN FAVOR
OF EXTRADITION AND OPPOSED TO THE "DIALOGUE" PROPOSED BY
NARCOS. IN SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER, THE SECURITY FORCES HAD
INCREASING SUCCESS IN DEACTIVATING EXPLOSIVES, CAPTURING
BOMBERS AND SEIZING A LARGE AMOUNT OF EXPLOSIVES.

7. BUT THE TERRORIST CAMPAIGN BEGAN TO DISPLAY SIGNS
THAT THE NARCOS WERE RECEIVING EXPLOSIVE TECHNOLOGY AND
TRAINING EITHER FROM THE GUERRILLA GROUPS OR FOREIGN
ADVISORS. IN MAY, A LARGE CHARGE WAS SET ALONG THE
ROUTE TO WORK OF THE CHIEF OF THE COUNTRY'S
INVESTIGATIVE POLICE (THE DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATIVE
SECURITY - DAS), GEN. MIGUEL MAZA MARQUEZ. IT WAS
COMMAND DETONATED AS HE DROVE BY BUT HE SURVIVED BECAUSE
ANOTHER VEHICLE INTERVENED BETWEEN HIS ARMOURED CAR AND
THE CAR BOMB. ON DECEMBER 6, 1989, NARCOTERRORISTS
DETONATED AN ELEVEN HUNDRED POUND EXPLOSION IN FRONT OF
THE BOGOTA DAS HEADQUARTERS. THE BOMB KILLED 62,
INJURED HUNDREDS AND DEMOLISHED THE DAS HEADQUARTERS AND
OTHER BUILDINGS. IT WAS THE MOST DEVASTATING EXPLOSION
IN COLOMBIA'S HISTORY. PRECEDING THIS INCIDENT WAS THE
MID-AIR EXPLOSION OF AN AVIANCA AIRLINER NEAR BOGOTA,
WHICH IS BELIEVED BY EXPERTS TO HAVE BEEN CAUSED BY AN
ON-BOARD EXPLOSIVE DEVICE. WHILE THE AUTHORS OF THAT
HORRIFIC ACT HAVE NOT YET BEEN IDENTIFIED, MANY ASSUME
THAT THE TRAFFICKERS WERE RESPONSIBLE.

7. COLOMBIA HAS WORKED FOR ADOPTION IN THE UN AND THE
OAS OF RESOLUTIONS CONDEMNING THE ILLICIT CONVENTIONAL
ARMS TRADE, A PROPOSAL REVIVED BY PRESIDENT BARCO IN HIS
1989 SPEECH BEFORE THE UN. THESE EFFORTS ARE DESIGNED
TO LIMIT THE AVAILABILITY OF SOPHISTICATED CONVENTIONAL
ARMS TO WEALTHY TRAFFICKERS AND GUERRILLAS.

8. THE GOVERNMENT OF COLOMBIA HAS MADE NO PUBLIC
STATEMENTS IN SUPPORT OF INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM.

9. THE PLO DOES NOT/NOT HAVE, NOR HAS IT HAD IN THE
PAST, ANY OFFICIAL STATUS OR RECOGNITION IN COLOMBIA. A
PLO REPRESENTATIVE (MANDOUH GABER) WHO HAS REPORTEDLY
VISITED COLOMBIA IN 1988-89, DOES NOT/NOT ENJOY ANY
DIPLOMATIC OR QUASI OFFICIAL STATUS.

10. THERE WERE NO COURT PROSECUTIONS IN COLOMBIA IN
1989 INVOLVING INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM.


MCLEAN

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