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Cablegate: Colombia: Peace Commissioner Discusses Process

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

id: 32511
date: 5/12/2005 22:43
refid: 05BOGOTA4466
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 05STATE84333
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 004466


E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/09/2015

REF: STATE 84333

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


1. (C) In a May 10 conversation with the Ambassador, Peace
Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo was pessimistic about
re-starting a peace process with the ELN. He expressed
concern that Cuba and the other "group of friends" countries
continued to communicate with the ELN without GOC
authorization, and were pushing to renew a peace process that
would not/not hold the ELN to a cease-fire or an end to
kidnapping. He also complained that France had held meetings
with the FARC to secure Ingrid Betancourt's release without
notifying the GOC, and predicted French authorities would
continue doing so despite GOC objections. End Summary.

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ELN Process Unlikely

2. (C) Peace Commissioner Restrepo told the Ambassador he was
not optimistic that a peace process could be restarted with
the ELN after the group rejected Mexican facilitation. He
charged that Cuba had been working with the other "group of
friends" countries (Spain, Switzerland, France, and Norway)
to remove the Mexicans since December 2004. Restrepo
expressed concerns about Cuba's ongoing efforts to reach out
to the ELN, noting that the Cuban Ambassador to Colombia, in
the name of the group of friends, had been communicating
directly with the ELN without GOC permission. Restrepo said
he would try to persuade the Cuban Ambassador to stop, and
planned to make the same appeal to the Norwegian charge, who
recently took over from Cuba as coordinator for the group of

3. (C) Restrepo believed that Cuba resented the Mexican role
and had disagreed with Mexico's decision to hold the ELN to
Colombia's demand for a cease-fire and cessation of
kidnapping before talking. He said that, by the time the ELN
rejected Mexican facilitation on April 17 reportedly because
of Mexico's vote against Cuba at the UN Commission on Human
Rights, the process had already been frozen over the ELN's
refusal to cease kidnapping. Restrepo noted the GOC had even
offered to fund a peace and demobilization process in
response to ELN public claims that it could not afford to end
kidnapping. The ELN privately admitted that its refusal was
political rather than financial.

4. (C) Restrepo also said the FARC was pressuring the ELN to
continue kidnapping and the ELN leadership did not have the
power to force its units to stop. He asserted that
kidnapping was the only weapon the ELN had to intimidate the
public and pressure the GOC, and that ELN senior commander
Antonio Garcia continued to be against a peace process and in
favor of closer ties to the FARC.

France Overstepping

5. (C) Restrepo noted that France had been particularly
difficult with respect to the peace process because of its
determination to secure Ingrid Betancourt's release. Just
prior to FARC commander Simon Trinidad's extradition, the
French Ambassador to Colombia notified Restrepo that an
influential French civilian had met with FARC Secretariat
member Raul Reyes without GOC permission. According to the
French Ambassador, said Restrepo, Reyes had agreed to release
at least six hostages (three men and three women) in exchange
for Trinidad not being extradited. President Uribe
authorized Restrepo to explore the possibility. The FARC
ultimately rejected the GOC's offer not to extradite Trinidad
if the FARC released all 63 of its hostages.
6. (C) Since that time, the un-named French citizen had met
at least once again with Reyes without notifying the GOC.
The Frenchman even complained when stopped and questioned by
Colombian security forces. Restrepo predicted that France
would continue doing whatever was necessary, including paying
the FARC, to get Betancourt released regardless of GOC
objections. The Ambassador said he would pass on Restrepo's
concerns to Washington.

7. (C) Comment: According to reftel, French Foreign Minister
Barnier told the Secretary on May 2 that France "is careful
to coordinate with the Colombians" on its contacts with the
FARC and denied that Colombian officials had learned of
French contacts after the fact on several occasions.

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

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