Cablegate: Kanesatake Calm but Confrontation Continues

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

172252Z May 04

id: 16992
date: 5/17/2004 22:52
refid: 04QUEBEC80
origin: Consulate Quebec
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 04MONTREAL68
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
172252Z May 04
----------------- header ends ----------------
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 QUEBEC 000080
E.O. 12958: DECL: 5/17/2009
CLASSIFIED BY: susan keogh, consul general, Quebec, State.
REASON: 1.5 (B)
CLASSIFIED BY: susan keogh, consul general, Quebec, State.
REASON: 1.5 (B)
1. Confidential - Entire text.
2. (C) Summary: The situation within the Mohawk settlement of
Kanesatake, a territory (not a reserve) bordering the U.S.,
remains tense and complicated but some progress has been made in
keeping the peace in the past week. Quebec's provincial police
force (SQ) has taken the lead in mounting day and night patrols
in Kanesatake without incident in close coordination with the
RCMP. Grand Chief James Gabriel, burned out of his house in
January by a mob, remains in a hotel in the Montreal area.
Quebec's Miniistry of Public Security told DCM Kelly and CG
Keogh that the tripartite strategy is to avoid counterreaction
by the heavily armed "warriors" and to deal with criminal
elements through the court system. The Quebec authorities have
asked for greater coordination with the FBI on the situation.
End Summary
3. (C) In a meeting with Deputy Minister Luc Crepaualt and
Director General Georges Beauchemin May 14, the two told DCM
Kelly and Quebec Consul General Keogh that the situation in the
Kanesatake territory bordering the U.S. is calm but fragile.
"Warriors" among the 1,400 inhabitants continue to pose major
security headaches for the Quebec Ministry of Public Security,
however, with a very aggressive, confrontational approach,
although some progress has been made in the last week.
4. (C) At the request of the aboriginal authorities, Quebec's
police force (SQ) has been conducting regular day and night
patrols in the territory for the past week, apparently
well-received and breaking several weeks of no-man's land
lawlessness. There is solid cooperation with the RCMP
including daily telephone calls. While the 7-week-old
tripartite policing agreement between the SQ, RCMP and Grand
Chief James Gabriel's Band Council is now being implemented,
Gabriel remains in a hotel near Montreal ("living high at
government expense") with a troop of several dozen Mohawk
warriors, unable to return to Kanesatake. An election to see if
Gabriel can continue as Grand Chief is planned for July 7.
Meanwhile, Mohawks from other reserves continue to arrive in
Kanesatake, including some from Colorado, to join in the
5. (C) Apart from the patrolling, Beauchemin said any police
operations would be interpreted as an "invasion." The Quebec
Government wants to avoid a 1996 Oka-type situation where a
mechanized brigade had to intervene and there were costly social
and political reactions. "Anything we do to squash a fly will
give rise to huge problems." The strategy is to avoid
counterreaction and "psychodrama" by keeping a low profile.
6. (C) The Charest Government has refused a $1.5 million
request by Police Chief Ed Thompson to increase the native
police force to 38 people. Thompson and his peacekeepers have
never been able to patrol and had to retire after being pelted
with rocks and sticks, with minor injuries. Having funded the
first group of warriors/police that Gabriel hired earlier this
year, who were virtually taken hostage inside Kanesatake, we
understand Ottawa is also hesitating to provide more police
7. (C) The role of Quebec security forces is prominent because
Kanesatake is not a reserve but a settlement ("etablissement").
The patchwork of land belongs to the federal government but it
does not have the status of reserve territory. Federal law
applies to governance but the province canene ito agreemens
ith th BandCunci on olicin. The Qubec police (SQ) are
more accepted than the RCMP. With long memories, the Mohawk
remember that the RCMP killed one of theirs in 1916. Beauchemin
described the situation as akin to a family quarrel with people
held hostage: the two embattled factions have been warring for
200 years, he added. A 5-year old law to consolidate the area
in a new juridical arrangement has not been implemented. This
ambiguity has contributed to the current anarchic, destabilized
situation at Kanesatake. It started as a governance problem
with related Band Council members refusing to talk to each
other, but degenerated into a law-and-order problem with a lot
of firepower involved. Beauchemin spoke of rocket launchers,
among other weaponry, in the hands of the warriors, seen in the
newspapers in military fatigues and with faces covered.
Beauchemin noted that these weapons were easy to acquire: he had
spent 15 minutes on line and was able to purchase a whole range
of weapons: "You can get anything on the Internet from the
United States," he said. In his view, the Mohawks were
prepared to use them.
8. (C) The Quebec side acknowledged that a breakdown of law
and order of the magnitude that has happened at Kanesatake would
be intolerable outside of an aboriginal area. Trying to avoid a
costly confrontation, yet dealing with scofflaws, they have
launched three criminal investigations, infiltrating the highly
criminalized elements and using the courts to prosecute
offenders. One investigation involves those charged with
offenses during the riot of January 12; another involves the
burning of Chief Gabriel's house; a third involves a mixed squad
of police in a longer-term investigation of organized crime.
Asked about U.S. role, the Public Security Ministry officials
requested (as Minister Chagnon has asked us in the past) better
coordination with the FBI in a situation where U.S. interests
are involved and the SQ is taking a lead role on the ground.
Some "gun slingers" have already arrived from the U.S., and more
could come. Beauchemin said in this case, the situation could
evolve negatively, although he thought this to be unlikely.
=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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