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Cablegate: Goc Pardons 23 Farc Guerrillas

O 032254Z DEC 04
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9890
INFO AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
AMEMBASSY CARACAS
AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
AMEMBASSY LIMA
AMEMBASSY PANAMA
AMEMBASSY QUITO
CIA WASHDC
DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
DIA WASHDC
DIRONDCP WASHDC
NSC WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
USCINCSO MIAMI FL

id: 23605
date: 12/3/2004 22:54
refid: 04BOGOTA12410
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 04BOGOTA11207
header:
O 032254Z DEC 04
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9890
INFO AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
AMEMBASSY CARACAS
AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
AMEMBASSY LIMA
AMEMBASSY PANAMA
AMEMBASSY QUITO
CIA WASHDC
DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
DIA WASHDC
DIRONDCP WASHDC
NSC WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
USCINCSO MIAMI FL


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

C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 012410


E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2014
TAGS: PTER KJUS PHUM PINR PREL CO
SUBJECT: GOC PARDONS 23 FARC GUERRILLAS

REF: BOGOTA 11207

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

1. (U) On December 2, the GOC pardoned 23 imprisoned members
of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Those
pardoned were guilty only of membership in an illegal armed
group; no guerrillas guilty of violent crimes were eligible
for pardon. They will be released from prisons throughout
the country on December 3 and have pledged not to return to
the armed conflict. They will be eligible to enter the GOC's
reinsertion program for former members of an illegal armed
group. All had light sentences and would have been released
in a short period of time even without the pardon.

2. (U) The GOC promised the safety of the pardoned guerrillas
and their families from FARC or paramilitary reprisals, and
said the release was a demonstration of government commitment
to secure the release of hostages. Peace Commissioner Luis
Carlos Restrepo said efforts would continue to hold a
humanitarian exchange with FARC and President Uribe
underscored that the release was not a surrender to FARC
demands. Family members of FARC hostages, including Ingrid
Betancourt's mother and the wife of one of the kidnapped
Valle Department deputies, praised the GOC's actions.

3. (C) Restrepo explained to the Ambassador that the GOC was
responding to heavy pressure from family members of FARC
hostages to hold a prisoner exchange. The FARC has rejected
all GOC offers, including a recent proposal to swap 15
guerrillas followed by a temporary cease-fire and
face-to-face meeting in Bogota (reftel). We understand that
another 12 ex-FARC members will be released as soon as the
documents are prepared.

4. (C) Comment: Although we are dubious that this initiative
will prompt any FARC action, it has some interesting aspects:
(1) It is very close to the outcome desired for the
paramilitary process: release and reinsertion of illegal
armed group members after identification, investigation, and
verification that they have not committed violent crimes that
would demand incarceration; (2) It has received a positive
reaction inside and outside Colombia, putting the ball
squarely in the FARC's court; and (3) It has reduced pressure
for concessions on cases like Simon Trinidad and other high
profile FARC members held by the government.


WOOD

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

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