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Cablegate: Paraguay: Update On Cubas Kidnapping Investigation

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

id: 32876
date: 5/18/2005 20:43
refid: 05ASUNCION668
origin: Embassy Asuncion
classification: SECRET
destination: 05ASUNCION589
header:
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


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

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ASUNCION 000668

SIPDIS

WHA FOR A/S NORIEGA, PDAS DERHAM
STATE PASS TO USAID LAC/AA
NSC FOR KIM BREIER
SOUTHCOM FOR POLAD DAN JOHNSON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/17/2015
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR PTER KCRM AR BO BR CO PA VE
SUBJECT: PARAGUAY: UPDATE ON CUBAS KIDNAPPING INVESTIGATION
AND FARC ACTIVITY

REF: A. ASUNCION 00589

B. ASUNCION 00246 AND PRECEDING
C. ASUNCION 00232

Classified By: PolOff Mark Stamilio, reasons 1.4(b),(c),(d).

Summary
-------
1. (U) As reported in the press, a dissident Patria Libre
party (PPL) member testified that a Colombian national who
advised the PPL faction responsible for the kidnapping and
murder of former President Raul Cubas's daughter, Cecilia
Cubas (ref B), recommended that the group kill Ms. Cubas
after ransom negotiations faltered. Prosecutors have
suggested that the Colombian adviser was FARC "Foreign
Minister" Rodrigo Granda. According to the witness's
testimony, the adviser also encouraged the PPL to establish
an armed wing in Paraguay. Six additional PPL members now
face criminal charges based on the witness's testimony,
bringing the total to 28.

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2. (S) Paraguayan Attorney General Oscar Latorre shared with
the Ambassador new evidence showing additional email
communication between the PPL in Paraguay and senior FARC
leaders in Colombia, and between the PPL and a FARC operative
possibly based in Argentina. Among other things, the new
evidence indicates that the PPL communicated with the FARC
regarding at least one other kidnapping for ransom prior to
the Cubas kidnapping.

3. (U) Additionally, prosecutors are investigating reports
that six FARC members entered Paraguay by way of Bolivia to
assist with the Cubas kidnapping, and reports that a presumed
FARC member was involved in an attempted kidnapping in Ciudad
del Este (ref A). End Summary.

Testimony of Dissident PPL Member
---------------------------------
4. (U) In a pre-trial deposition before a judge in late
April, dissident PPL member turned police informant Dionisio
Olazar Balbuena testified that a Colombian national
accompanied Osmar Martinez, the leader of the PPL faction
believed to be responsible for the Cubas kidnapping and
murder, to a meeting in Paraguay. Olazar testified that the
Colombian national used the alias "Comandante Santiago" and
served as an adviser to the Martinez faction in connection
with the kidnapping. Based on Olazar's general description
of Comandante Santiago -- white male with graying hair,
glasses, and a "Central American" accent -- prosecutors have
suggested that he may have been FARC "Foreign Minister"
Rodrigo Granda. (Note: Paraguayans sometimes refer to any
unfamiliar Spanish accent as "Central American." End Note.)

5. (U) According to Olazar, the Martinez faction perpetrated
the Cubas kidnapping "to recover money from those who had
stolen it from the people." Their plan was to demand an
initial USD 300,000 as "punishment," and then negotiate a
ransom of USD 3 million - 5 million. When negotiations with
the Cubas family faltered, Comandante Santiago recommended
that the group kill Ms. Cubas, and then left Paraguay.
Olazar testified that Comandante Santiago also encouraged the
PPL to establish an armed wing in Paraguay.

6. (U) Olazar testified that he quit the PPL after a
falling-out with PPL leader Juan Arrom. (Note: Arrom is
accused of orchestrating the 2001 kidnapping of Maria Edith
Bordon de Debernardi, and was granted refugee status in
Brazil after he was allegedly tortured by authorities in
Paraguay. End Note.) According to Olazar, the falling-out
occurred when he questioned Arrom about the accusations
against him in the Debernardi case. Olazar further testified
that Martinez, Comandante Santiago, and two unnamed Deputies
from Brazil's Workers Party (PT) tried to convince him to
rejoin the PPL in support of South America's leftist movement.

7. (S) Comment: Some aspects of Olazar's testimony are
self-serving and inconsistent with sensitive reporting. For
instance, the PPL formed its armed wing at least ten years
ago, and according to sensitive reporting, Comandante
Santiago actually told the PPL that it needed to strengthen
its political wing so that the armed and political wings
would better complement each other. Olazar's focus on the
formation of an armed wing may be an attempt to exploit the
public's concerns about security in Paraguay and thereby
inflate the significance of his testimony.
8. (S) Comment continued: Also, according to sensitive
reporting, Olazar was previously unable to identify a
"Central American" accent as anything other than a
non-Paraguayan accent. Further, it is unlikely that he met
Granda and cannot identify him more positively than the
general description he provided to the Attorney General's
Office. In Post's assessment, it is also unlikely that
Granda is Comandante Santiago.

9. (S) Comment continued: Finally, sensitive reporting
indicates that Olazar kept some distance from the PPL after
his falling-out with Arrom, but never quit the party. He
continued to attend PPL meetings, which is how he obtained
the information he imparted to the Attorney General's Office
and in his testimony. Having been outed as a member of the
party, however, and no longer in good graces with Arrom, who
will likely remain its leader, Olazar is hoping to save his
own skin by cooperating with the authorities and minimizing
his involvement in PPL activities. End Comment.

Growing Rap Sheet
-----------------
10. (U) Six additional PPL members now face criminal charges
based, in part, on Olazar's testimony. According to Olazar,
those members were present at a January PPL meeting during
which Martinez called for a vote on Ms. Cubas's fate. Three
of the six supported Martinez's decision to kill Ms. Cubas.
All six face charges as accomplices for failing to report the
crime to the authorities. A total of 28 individuals now face
charges in the case:

-- Osmar Martinez
-- Anastasio Mieres
-- Jose Martinez
-- Francisca Andino
-- Asael Salas
-- Aldo Meza
-- Vasiano Acosta
-- Manuel Portillo
-- Juan Martinez
-- Pedro Chamorro
-- Lidia Samudio
-- Rosalba Jara
-- Amalia Britez
-- Hernan Nunez
-- Emiliano Rojas
-- Jose Hidalgo
-- Manuel Cristaldo
-- Magna Meza
-- Osvaldo Villalba
-- Carlos Espinola
-- Sebastian Osorio
-- Lorenzo Gonzalez
-- Agustin Acosta
-- Angel Acosta
-- Blas Franco
-- Gustavo Lezcano
-- Aristides Vera
-- Roque Rodriguez

New Email Evidence
------------------
11. (S) According to evidence Paraguayan Attorney General
Oscar Latorre shared with the Ambassador, on July 12, 2004,
the day Martinez is believed to have met with Granda in
Caracas, Venezuela (ref C), Granda emailed senior FARC leader
Raul Reyes on Martinez's behalf to report on the status of
plans and preparations for the Cubas kidnapping. The
evidence indicates that Granda then put Martinez in contact
with a FARC operative (alias "Hermes") who has an email
account registered in Argentina (cocobolivar@yahoo.com.ar).
(Note: According to press reports, the Paraguayan authorities
believe Hermes is part of a FARC cell in Buenos Aires. The
evidence Latorre shared with the Ambassador indicates that
Martinez met Hermes in Brazil, perhaps on his way back to
Paraguay from Venezuela. End Note.)

12. (S) The evidence also indicates that the PPL communicated
with the FARC regarding at least one other kidnapping for
ransom, in June 2003, roughly one year before the Cubas
kidnapping. The exchange was between alias "Javier" and
alias "Arturo" by means of the musguero@hotmail.com email
account later linked to Martinez in the Cubas investigation
(ref B). The drafter used the same agricultural references
("fruit" to refer to the victim, "crop" to refer to the
kidnapping, etc.) that Martinez and Granda later used to
discuss the Cubas kidnapping. Paraguayan authorities'
analysis of the communication suggests that the kidnapping
victim in the June 2003 case was a Brazilian national (based
on an allusion to the color "yellow-green," the predominant
color in Brazil's national flag) and that the PPL requested
the assistance of a FARC advisor (based on an allusion to a
"member of the cooperative").

Other FARC Activity
-------------------
13. (U) Prosecutors are investigating reports that six FARC
members entered Paraguay by way of Bolivia to assist with the
Cubas kidnapping. Separately, police in Ciudad del Este
reportedly thwarted an attempt to kidnap a relative of "a
well-known physician" by a group that reportedly included a
Colombian national named Jose Raul Castro Fernandez.
Paraguayan authorities reportedly told the press that Castro
"could be a member of the FARC."
KEANE

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

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