Search

 

Cablegate: Martinelli Confirms Approval of Cross-Border Attack Plan

VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHZP #0889/01 3511811
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O R 171811Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY PANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0198
INFO RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS
RUEHGT/AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 0049
RUEHMU/AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
RUEHSJ/AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
RUEHSN/AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR
RUEHTG/AMEMBASSY TEGUCIGALPA 0047
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

S E C R E T PANAMA 000889

SIPDIS
NOFORN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/17
TAGS: PREL PGOV MOPS ASEC SNAR PM CO PINR
SUBJECT: Martinelli Confirms Approval of Cross-Border Attack Plan

REF: PANAMA 877; PANAMA 883; PANAMA 799; PANAMA 699; PANAMA 639
BOGOTA 3559

CLASSIFIED BY: Stepheson, Barbara J, Ambassador, State, EXEC; REASON:
1.4(B), (D)

GOP Approves Plan
---------------------

1. (S//NF) President Martinelli told Ambassador on December 13 that
he had given approval for Colombian forces to attack FARC forces
that will be gathered for the holidays in Panama's Darien province
(ref A). He confirmed that the plan had been discussed during a
meeting on December 9 with visiting Colombian National Police
director General Oscar Naranjo.

2. (S//NF) During a lengthy dinner conversation with Ambassador,
the president voiced contradictory views about the seriousness of
the FARC threat. At times he expressed indignation about the FARC
"holding a Christmas party" on Panamanian territory and said he was
determined to take immediate aggressive action against them. When
the Ambassador raised the risk (and political cost) of women and
children being killed, Martinelli at first deemed this an
acceptable price. He then reconsidered after the Ambassador framed
the issue in counterinsurgency terms, underscoring the importance
of maintaining the support of the population. At another point in
the conversation he opined that the FARC was not really a threat to
the GOP, and that he was being forced to act only because the
Padron kidnapping case had demonstrated the FARC's potential danger
to urban Panamanians. The range of seemingly conflicting views
that Martinelli holds in his own mind about this problem are
illustrative of his mercurial and unpredictable management style,
in which he gives conflicting directives to subordinates and
approves contradictory courses of action.

3. (S//NF) Beyond the pros and cons of any potential Colombian
action against the FARC, the Ambassador noted the danger posed by
having two uncoordinated plans in the same space and time. The
president first said it was a matter of who -- the U.S. or the
Colombians -- could take out FARC leader alias "Silver" first, but
then he said he now realized that this could get someone killed.
The Ambassador made clear that closer Panama-Colombian cooperation
was something we had long favored and noted that we would be happy
to be part of a coordinated Panama-Colombia plan.

Embassy Panama Standing Down in Darien
--------------------------------------------- -

4. (S//NF) Embassy Panama's Pillar Three Darien working group
(Pillar Three of our Darien 1207 strategy is aimed at demobilizing
the lower ranked of the 200 FARC 57th Front members operating in
the Darien along with the arrest of specific FARC leaders on U.S.
indictments) met December 15 to review the impact of recent events
on our operations in the Darien. The working group considered the
state of play described above as well as their meeting the day
before with Frank Abrego, head of the National Frontier Service,
the GOP public force with lead responsibility in the Darien.
Abrego had kept the embassy team waiting in his headquarters office
for an hour while he scrambled to get guidance from Minister of
Government and Justice Jose Raul Mulino on whether he was to
provide an intelligence briefing or not. As a precaution, and to
avoid running the risks associated with two uncoordinated plans
operating in the same area and at the same time, the working group
decided to cancel of the deployment of two JTF-Bravo Blackhawk
helicopters that had planned training missions with the CNT-17 SEAL
detachment and to recall the SEAL detachment, the U.S. Army Joint
Planning and Assistance Team (JPAT) and Military Information
Support Team (MIST) to Panama City for the next several weeks. In
addition, the Ambassador has accepted DEA's recommendation that the
FAST team focus its efforts on valuable CN targets elsewhere in
Panama, away from the uncertainty of operating in the Darien, where

SENAFRONT's level of commitment to the CN operations was most
decidedly not reassuring to U.S. law enforcement agencies. When
the Ambassador briefed Minister of the Presidency Jimmy
Papadimitriu the evening of December 15 about our plan to take this
"Christmas break," he welcomed the decision and thanked the
Ambassador for being understanding in the face of confusion.

5. (S//NF) Comment: We have just received Bogota 3559, which is
helpful in piecing together the events over the past couple of
weeks and to pointing to a way forward. We are grateful for
General Naranjo's commitment to working in concert with the USG and
his openness about GOC efforts to develop operational targets as a
precursor to developing plans for taking effective action against
those targets. While we would welcome marrying Embassy Panama's
effort-we were in the midst of the same process of developing a
target package against FARC leader aka Silver and others as a first
step to developing a concept of operations to share in mid-January
with the GOP for review and approval-with a Colombian effort, we
are mindful (as Bogota 3559 notes) that Consejo Chief Olmedo Alfaro
seeks to marginalize the USG, which has traditionally been Panama's
principal security partner. After intense speculation that the
anti-American Alfaro would be ousted, his position, which includes
daily access to President Martinelli, seems to have strengthened
considerably over the past couple of weeks, making our approach of
working around him to achieve our goals steadily more difficult.
We look forward in the new year to working in close collaboration
with Embassy Bogota and with guidance from Washington to chart a
way forward built around a single, coherent plan for denying the
FARC and other DTOs safehaven and operating space in the Darien.
End comment.
STEPHENSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN News: UN Strongly Condemns Knife Attack Inside Nice Church Which Left Three Dead

The UN Secretary-General on Thursday strongly condemned a knife attack inside a French church in the southern French city of Nice, which reportedly left three worshippers dead. In a statement released by his Spokesperson, António Guterres extended his ... More>>

ALRANZ: Denounces US Senate Confirmation Of Judge Barrett

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa denounces the US Senate’s confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court seat formerly held by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. “This action demonstrates the rank hypocrisy of the once-respected upper chamber ... More>>

UN News: Millions Affected As Devastating Typhoon Strikes Viet Nam

A major typhoon has struck central Viet Nam, affecting millions of people – including about 2.5 million children – in a region already reeling from the effects of severe floods, according to UN agencies in the country. There are also reports that 174 ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>