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Cablegate: Guarded Optimism at First Year Anniversary Of

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



SUBJECT: Guarded Optimism at First Year Anniversary of
BCN Demobilization


--------------------------------------------- -----------
"It's Working"-First Year Anniversary of BCN
--------------------------------------------- -----------

1. Just hours after the November 25 demobilization of
AUC's Bananero Bloc combatants in Turbo, Antioquia
Department (reftel), the first anniversary of the
demobilization of the Cacique Nutibara Bloc (BCN) was
celebrated in the department capital of Medellin. With
banners emblazoned with the slogan "After a Year - it's
Working", the cavernous Medellin convention hall filled
with an audience of over 1000, including former BCN
combatants and their families, public officials, civil
society leaders, and representatives of foreign missions.

2. In a keynote speech, former BCN commander Diego
Murrillo, one of the AUC's principal negotiators in talks
with the GOC, described the difficult road traveled in
the ongoing peace process. He told the crowd that former
and current AUC combatants can "see a light of hope at
the end of the tunnel that will bring us to join our
families, reconcile with society, and search for
political space.... From a position of legality [we will]
contribute to the building of roads towards often
mentioned but never well understood social justice."

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3. Murillo accused critics of the peace process of
refusing to accept the mechanisms of pardon and
reconciliation. He was critical of their purported "wish
to apply humanitarian fundamentalism," characterizing
them as "trapped in offices in Europe.." He said they
"fail to understand, not even with a glance, the dramatic
realities of Colombia. A process of peace that does 'not
have as a fundamental direction pardon and reconciliation
is' not viable." Departing from his written remarks, he
asked the GOC to be generous in its handling of the
movement's leaders' legal status.

4. In his public remarks, Mayor of Medellin Sergio
Fajardo admitted that a year earlier he had serious
doubts about prospects for success of the AUC
demobilization process. However, as a close observer of
the process over the past year, he had become a believer.
Linking the demobilization to reduced levels of violence,
he noted that murders in the city had fallen by over 60%
from the previous year. Yet he reminded the gathering
that the problems of Medellin and Antioquia will not be
solved only by demobilizing former combatants, but by
dealing successfully with other forms of violence and
offering Medellin's youth educational and employment
opportunities that discourage them from joining criminal
gangs or engaging in other types of crime.

5. The mood after the ceremony was genuinely positive,
almost festive. Embassy officials spoke with several
demobilized fighters, all of whom said they were happy to
have returned to their families and reintegrated into
society and "legality." Although they recognized that the
road ahead is not easy, they emphasized that it is
nevertheless better than the one left behind.

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