Cablegate: Mod Briefs Secretary Gates On Plans to Enhance


DE RUEHPE #3429/01 2901704
R 171704Z OCT 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 003429



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/22/2017

Classified By: Charge James Nealon, for Reasons 1.4 (c,d)

1. (C) Summary: Senior MOD officials, including Minister of
Defense Alan Wagner, briefed Secretary of Defense Robert
Gates on operational plans to expand the government's control
over four isolated areas of Peru: the Apurimac and Ene river
valleys (the VRAE); the upper Huallaga valley; the border
with Columbia; and the northern coast of Peru. All four
operational plans combine targeted security operations with
increased investment in health, transportation, and education
to re-establish the presence of the state and win the support
of local populations. The briefing emphasized the importance
of Plan VRAE, which is fully funded and in the process of
being implemented; the other three programs remain in the
planning stage. End Summary.

A Multi-Faceted Approach -- Plan VRAE

2. (C) On October 5, Minister of Defense Wagner and senior
defense officials briefed Secretary of Defense Gates on the
GOP's plans to enhance security and state authority within
Peru's borders. The GOP has given top priority to Plan VRAE,
which seeks to re-establish order and combat the presence of
narcotraffickers and Shining Path terrorists in the four
departments comprising the Apurimac and Ene river valleys,
Junin, Cuzco, Huancavelica, and Ayacucho. The VRAE produces
50 percent of Peru's cocaine and is currently under a state
of emergency. More than 200,000 persons live in the area: 30
percent are illiterate, 50 percent malnourished, and 80
percent live in homes lacking both water and electricity. In
response, the government of Peru has secured funding to build
electrical plants, roads, water pipelines, and telephone
connections in 2007 and 2008. An interagency committee,
representing 11 ministries and the office of the vice
president, supervises social development and cooperates with
the military to increase the presence of security forces in
the region and to control the lawlessness that has allowed
the cocaine economy to predominate.

Putumayo, Huallaga, and Costa Norte

3. (C) A low level of economic development also afflicts
the 10,000 persons living along the 1300 kilometer border
with Colombia that follows the Putumayo River. Approximately
80 percent of the population lives in poverty, 70 percent in
extreme poverty. More than 80 percent of villagers are
illiterate, and more than 95 percent of homes lack
electricity and water. The goal of Plan Putumayo is to
integrate the region within the larger Peruvian economy by
constructing roads and airports, by building primary schools,
and by ending smuggling across the border. At the same time,
the plan recognizes the need to send additional troops to the
area, possibly an additional army battalion in 2008, to aid
the 2500 soldiers already posted. The long border and dense
vegetation pose challenges for troops patrolling the region,
particularly since the isolated bases in the area lack the
logistical support necessary to sustain operations.

4. (C) From 70 to 80 percent of Peru's cocaine transits
through the northern coast, where small fishing villages
supply vessels to transport drugs to larger ships. Plan
Costa Norte seeks to enhance the navy's ability to survey and
patrol waters along Peru's north coast by coordinating
surface and air operations and by pooling intelligence
sources from the military, national police, and Ministry of
Fishing. The GOP expects that increased cooperation will not
only reduce drug smuggling but also have an impact on
curtailing piracy, illegal fishing, and human trafficking.
The MOD noted, however, that at present, the military lacks
the resources necessary to monitor the illegal activity
taking place.

5. (C) Like the VRAE, the Huallaga valley contains a
Sendero Luminoso column -- estimated at 60 persons -- who
have increased their involvement in drug trafficking and have
launched attacks against security personnel. Plan VRAE aims
to eliminate the threat posed by Sendero Luminoso by
bolstering the presence of the police and by increasing
investment in basic infrastructure in order to create a
vibrant local economy that will undercut the appeal of drug

GOP Wish List

6. (C) Minister Wagner concluded the presentation by noting
eight areas where the United States could provide aid to the
GOP. Three involved military assistance: increased training
in the US for Peruvian military officers; access to US
satellite imagery; and funding to allow the Peruvian navy to
participate in multi-national operations. Five requests
involved bilateral assistance: the donation of a field
hospital to assist earthquake victims; additional funding to
assist Peruvian participation in international peacekeeping;
support for demining efforts along the Ecuadorian border;
re-establishment of the bilateral riverine program; and
funding to help improve naval interdictions along the
northern coast.

7. (C) In response to questions raised about Plan Putumayo,
Wagner said that cooperation with Columbia is excellent --
the two sides have a treaty allowing "hot pursuit" across the
border -- and the FARC has not yet established a permanent
presence on Peruvian soil, although efforts to recruit local
youths continue. Wagner noted that there are simply not
enough police along the Putumayo river, where thick jungle
makes any kind of travel difficult. Wagner also said that a
lack of air mobility, particularly in the mountainous VRAE,
hampers military operations. In the VRAE, for example, only
one military helicopter is operational. The situation is
different in the Upper Huallaga, where NAS air assets fully
support police patrols.


8. (C) The MOD deserves credit for identifying
transnational threats of terrorism and drug smuggling within
Peru's borders as the key security challenge facing the
government. Wagner recognizes as well that a purely military
approach to re-establishing state control is likely to fail,
and he has pursued a multi-faceted approach that responds to
the underlying social and economic causes of unrest. Still,
the greatest challenge for the GOP is to translate
well-meaning and crucial strategic plans into concrete
action. Plan VRAE, for example, was launched in December
2006 and has yet to get off the ground. The three other
plans are still on the drawing boards, with the laborious
process of obligating funds still pending. President Alan
Garcia's first year in office has shown that while securing
funding is a necessary first step in creating change, much
will depend on implementation.

© Scoop Media

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