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Cablegate: Public Protests Grow in the Face of Farc

P 041152Z FEB 02
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6573
INFO NSC WASHDC
AMEMBASSY PANAMA
AMEMBASSY CARACAS
AMEMBASSY QUITO
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
AMEMBASSY LIMA
USCINCSO MIAMI FL
JOINT STAFF WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
DIRONDCP WASHDC

id: 2446
date: 2/4/2002 11:52
refid: 02BOGOTA1025
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 02BOGOTA879|02BOGOTA918
header:
P 041152Z FEB 02
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6573
INFO NSC WASHDC
AMEMBASSY PANAMA
AMEMBASSY CARACAS
AMEMBASSY QUITO
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
AMEMBASSY LIMA
USCINCSO MIAMI FL
JOINT STAFF WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
DIRONDCP WASHDC


----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 001025

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/01/2007
TAGS: PTER PGOV PINS CO
SUBJECT: PUBLIC PROTESTS GROW IN THE FACE OF FARC
ATTACKS

REFS: A) BOGOTA 00918 B) BOGOTA 00879

CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR ANNE W. PATTERSON FOR REASONS:
1.5 (B) AND (D)

1. (C) SUMMARY: AS THE FARC'S WAVE OF VIOLENCE AND
DESTRUCTION CONTINUES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY, PRESIDENT
PASTRANA MET WITH HIS TOP MILITARY AND CIVILIAN ADVISORS
TO DEVELOP A PLAN TO COMBAT THE GUERRILLA ATTACKS.
MEANWHILE, POPULAR ATTITUDES ARE HARDENING AGAINST THE
FARC, AS PEOPLE TAKE TO THE STREETS TO PROTEST THE
INDISCRIMINATE VIOLENCE. END SUMMARY.

----------------
ATTACKS CONTINUE
----------------

2. (U) THE FARC'S WAVE OF VIOLENCE CONTINUES, DESPITE
THE GROWING POPULAR CONDEMNATION OF THE GUERRILLA
ATTACKS. ON JANUARY 30, THE FARC DETONATED A CAR BOMB
BEHIND THE CARACOL TV AND RADIO BUILDING IN CENTRAL
BOGOTA. NO ONE WAS HURT IN THE ATTACK, BUT SIX PEOPLE
WERE KILLED AND 25 WERE INJURED IN FLORENCIA (CAQUETA
DEPARTMENT) WHEN THE FARC ACTIVATED A BOMB WHILE A
MILITARY CONVOY WAS PASSING BY. THEY ALSO EXPLODED TWO
PACKAGE BOMBS IN FRONT OF THE ARMY'S 5TH MECHANIZED
DIVISION BARRACKS IN MEDELLIN.

---------------------
NEW SECURITY MEASURES
---------------------

3. (U) ON JANUARY 31, COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT ANDRES
PASTRANA HELD A SECURITY SUMMIT WITH HIGH-LEVEL
POLITICAL AND MILITARY OFFICIALS TO DISCUSS MEASURES TO
COMBAT THE FARC OFFENSIVE. THE SUMMIT WAS ATTENDED BY
INTERIOR MINISTER ARMANDO ESTRADA, JUSTICE MINISTER
ROMULO GONZALEZ, VICE PRESIDENT AND DEFENSE MINISTER
GUSTAVO BELL, ARMY COMMANDER GENERAL JORGE ENRIQUE MORA,
NAVY COMMANDER ADMIRAL SOTO, POLICE DIRECTOR LUIS
ERNESTO GILIBERT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DEPARTMENT OF
SECURITY (DAS - FBI EQUIVALENT) DIRECTOR COLONEL GERMAN
GUSTAVO JARAMILLO. SUBSEQUENTLY, PRESIDENT PASTRANA
ANNOUNCED THAT THE GOVERNMENT WAS IMPLEMENTING THE
FOLLOWING SECURITY MEASURES:

-- INSPECTION CHECKPOINTS AT THE ENTRANCES AND EXITS OF
ALL CITIES;

-- MOBILE CHECKPOINTS INSIDE THE CITIES;

-- RAIDS OF SITES WHERE ATTACKS ARE BEING PLANNED; AND

-- AN INCREASE OF FUNDS TO PAY INFORMANTS.

----------------
GROWING PROTESTS
----------------

4. (U) THE NEW MEASURES WERE ANNOUNCED AS PUBLIC
OPINION CONCERNING THE FARC'S TACTICS HAS TURNED
STRONGLY AGAINST THE GUERRILLAS. ON WEDNESDAY, JANUARY
30, THE RESIDENTS OF META PROVINCE HELD A 15-MINUTE
"POT-BANGING PROTEST" TO VOICE THEIR OBJECTION TO THE
FARC'S RECENT ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE, WHILE BOGOTA MAYOR
ANTANAS MOCKUS LED A SIMILAR PROTEST IN NORTHERN BOGOTA.
THIS PROTEST FOLLOWED A THREE-MINUTE "LIGHTS-OUT" IN
BOGOTA TO PROTEST THE FARC'S ATTACKS ON THE
INFRASTRUCTURE, WHICH HAVE DESTROYED SCORES OF
ELECTRICAL PYLONS AND HAVE DAMAGED A MAJOR WATER SUPPLY
FOR THE CAPITAL.

5. (U) EVEN THOSE WHO STRONGLY SUPPORT THE PEACE
PROCESS HAVE CONDEMNED THE FARC ATTACKS. INGRID
BETANCOURT, AN INDEPENDENT "GREEN" PRESIDENTIAL
CANDIDATE, SHARPLY CRITICIZED THE FARC AND CALLED ON THE
GUERRILLAS TO CEASE THESE ATTACKS. ANDERS KOMPASS,
DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH
COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN COLOMBIA, DESCRIBED THE
ATTACKS AS "DEPLORABLE" AND "COUNTERPRODUCTIVE."

--------------------
MILITARY DEPLOYMENTS
--------------------

6. (C) WHILE IT IS NOT YET CLEAR WHETHER THE COLMIL HAS
RE-DEPLOYED FROM ITS STAGING POINT OUTSIDE OF THE FARC'S
SAFE HAVEN ("DESPEJE"), DAO REPORTS THAT THE COLAR'S
21ST BATTALION BASED IN GRANADA HAS BEEN DEFENDING KEY
POPULATION CENTERS AND INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE REGION
AROUND THE DESPEJE (REF B). THE RAPID DEPLOYMENT FORCE
(FUDRA) ALSO HAS BEEN CONDUCTING OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS
AGAINST THE FARC'S 26TH FRONT AND IS STILL FORWARD
DEPLOYED IN META DEPARTMENT.

--------
COMMENT:
--------

7. (C) ANALYSTS HAVE POSITED A NUMBER OF THEORIES ABOUT
THE FARC'S ONGOING OFFENSIVE. SOME SENIOR MILITARY AND
POLICE OFFICIALS HAVE POINTED OUT THAT THE FARC HAS
MARKEDLY STEPPED UP ITS ATTACKS AROUND BOGOTA,
SUGGESTING THAT THE GUERRILLAS MIGHT BE TRYING TO
ISOLATE THE CAPITAL. MANY OBSERVERS ALSO BELIEVE THE
FARC'S ACTIONS ARE MOTIVATED BY A DESIRE TO DEMONSTRATE
THEIR MILITARY CAPABILITIES, APPARENTLY IN THE HOPES OF
BOLSTERING THEIR LEVERAGE AT THE NEGOTIATING TABLE.
ANOTHER THEORY IS THAT THE FARC IS STEPPING UP ITS
ATTACKS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY IN ORDER TO DRAW COLMIL
FORCES AWAY FROM THE DESPEJE -- IN EFFECT, FORCING THE
MILITARY TO LOOSEN THE SECURITY CONTROLS ON THE FARC
SAFE HAVEN, SOMETHING THAT THE GOC HAD REFUSED TO DO IN
THE NEGOTIATIONS. WHATEVER THEIR MOTIVES, THE FARC'S
LATEST OFFENSIVE MIGHT BE A PYHRRIC VICTORY. WHILE
THEIR ATTACKS HAVE HAD A PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT ON THE
POPULACE (ESPECIALLY IN THE CITIES), THESE ACTIONS HAVE
PRODUCED A POLITICAL REACTION THAT ULTIMATELY UNDERMINES
THE FARC'S INTERESTS.


PATTERSON

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

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