Cablegate: Goc Taking Action Against Paramilitary Cease-Fire

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

id: 14061
date: 2/18/2004 19:19
refid: 04BOGOTA1680
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 04BOGOTA1198
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 001680


E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/17/2014


Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood for reasons 1.5 (b)
and (d).


1. (C) Since agreeing to a unilateral cease-fire in late
November 2002, Colombia's major paramilitary groups -- the
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), Central Bolivar
Bloc (BCB) and Eastern Alliance have committed at least 370
murders, kidnappings, and other human rights violations
nationwide. They are also suspected of up to 1,500 other
violations. The AUC has committed approximately 120
confirmed cease-fire violations, including nine massacres,
and the BCB approximately 60, including nine additional
massacres. AUC political chief Carlos Castano publicly
admitted that the AUC has violated the cease-fire, and said
the only way to fully observe it in the context of ongoing
conflict would be to concentrate all AUC forces in specific
zones protected by the security forces.

2. (C) The GOC recognizes that the cease-fire has been
violated with frequency, and has therefore continued
offensive operations against paramilitary groups. Nearly
4,000 paramilitaries have been captured and 450 killed since
President Uribe took office in August 2002. The OAS, which
has agreed to verify and monitor paramilitary demobilization
and reintegration, has said it will verify the cease-fire,
but only after paramilitary combatants enter specific
concentration zones. End Summary.

Imperfectly Observed Cease-Fire

3. (C) As President Uribe acknowledged in his February 4
meeting with DAS Peter DeShazo (reftel), the United
Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) and other paramilitary
groups have not adhered perfectly to the cease-fire they
declared in late 2002 as a precondition for demobilization
negotiations with the GOC. Vice-President Francisco Santos
publicly criticized these cease-fire violations on February
12 and emphasized that the GOC will not tolerate paramilitary
violence. According to the Presidential Program for Human
Rights, the GOC has confirmed approximately 370 paramilitary
cease-fire violations -- primarily murders and kidnappings --
that occurred between November 29, 2002 and February 9, 2004.
The AUC was responsible for approximately 120 violations,
including nine massacres (defined by the GOC as four or more
persons killed at one time). The BCB, which also agreed to a
cease-fire and eventual demobilization, was responsible for
approximately 60 violations, including nine other massacres.
The Eastern Alliance, an amalgam of various paramilitary
groups operating on Colombia's eastern plains, was
responsible for approximately 25 confirmed cease-fire
violations. Smaller paramilitary groups that did not sign on
to a cease-fire were responsible for at least 12 confirmed
human rights crimes during this period, including five
massacres. However, the GOC suspects that paramilitaries may
also be to blame for as many as 1,500 other human rights
crimes since November 2002. Of these, the AUC itself is
suspected of 650 crimes. Although some of these violations
involved clashes between rival paramilitary groups, most were
directed at the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(FARC), National Liberation Army (ELN), or non-combatants.

4. (U) On February 16, AUC political chief Carlos Castano
publicly admitted that the AUC has repeatedly violated the
terms of the cease-fire. He said a full cease-fire is
impossible as long as the FARC continues offensive military
actions, but emphasized that the AUC remains committed to
demobilization. Castano said the AUC will be in a position
to abide fully by the cease-fire once its troops gather in
concentration zones secured by the armed forces.

5. (C) Despite paramilitary cease-fire violations, the
overall level of paramilitary violence has fallen
significantly since the cease-fires were implemented.
According to the GOC, only 13 persons died in paramilitary
massacres during 2003, compared with 54 in 2002 and 281 in
2001. In 2003, nationwide murders fell by 20 percent,
massacres by 40 percent, kidnappings by 30 percent, and
forced displacements by nearly 50 percent. Although the
security forces' expanding presence throughout national
territory has been the major factor in reductions in
violence, we also attribute the drop in paramilitary
violations to the cease-fire agreement and the general halt
of paramilitary efforts to establish new areas of control.

GOC Tough on Paramilitaries

6. (C) Aware that the cease-fire has been repeatedly
violated, the GOC has continued military and law enforcement
operations against paramilitaries, including groups involved
in negotiations. Since Uribe took office in August 2002, the
security forces have captured nearly 4,000 paramilitaries and
killed almost 450 in combat. These are increases of 164 and
131 percent, respectively, compared to the last 18 months of
the Pastrana administration. By comparison, captures and
deaths in combat of guerrillas have increased 167 and 43
percent, respectively.


7. (C) Although the GOC continues to take aggressive actions
against paramilitaries, it needs a concentration of
paramilitaries in specific, controllable zones, to enforce
the unilateral cease-fire. The OAS has agreed to verify the
cease-fire once combatants are concentrated. The GOC is in
the process of preparing, institutionally and financially, to
implement such a large-scale concentration. The Ambassador
has denounced in the press paramilitary failures to adhere to
their cease-fire commitment. We will continue to encourage
the GOC to maintain military actions against all illegal
armed groups.

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

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