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Cablegate: Government Commission Report On Colombian Attack and Farc

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C O N F I D E N T I A L QUITO 001033

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2029/12/11
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER SNAR MOPS EC CO
SUBJECT: Government Commission Report on Colombian Attack and FARC
Ties

REF: QUITO 933; QUITO 227

CLASSIFIED BY: Heath...


id: 239530
date: 12/11/2009 18:45
refid: 09QUITO1033
origin: Embassy Quito
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 09QUITO227|09QUITO933
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C O N F I D E N T I A L QUITO 001033

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2029/12/11
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER SNAR MOPS EC CO
SUBJECT: Government Commission Report on Colombian Attack and FARC
Ties

REF: QUITO 933; QUITO 227

CLASSIFIED BY: Heather M. Hodges, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(D)

1. (C) Summary: A government-appointed commission's report
revives allegations about the FOL's support (specifically in regard
to satellite intelligence) for the 2008 Colombian military attack
against a FARC camp in northern Ecuador, as well as allegations of
inappropriate U.S. direction of local intelligence services and
police units. We would not be surprised if the GOE seeks to
overcome its current political weakness by playing up the report's
criticism of the U.S., which was harsher than we were led to expect
in November (Ref A). Concerns about the influence of the FARC and
narcotics traffickers in Ecuador are a secondary theme of the
report, but initially have equally captured local press attention.
The report reviews, but does not reach conclusions on, allegations
that former Security Minister Larrea, National Assembly member
Calle, and others have ties to the FARC. End Summary.

2. (C) The government appointed the Transparency and Truth
Commission to look into the Colombian military operation of March
1, 2008, against a FARC camp in northern Ecuador (reftels). The
commission's 130-page report makes a total of 88 references to the
USG, most of which do not cast us in a favorable light. It
highlights the refusal of Colombian authorities to provide
information. Interestingly, the report admits that it does not
seek to be objective, rather to enhance transparency, and that
often it cannot draw conclusions on issues due to lack of access by
the Commission.

FOL, DEA, and CIA are Major Targets

-----------------------------------

3. (C) The role of the U.S. Forward Operating Location (FOL) in
Manta is a major focus of the commission's report. The report
accepts the Ambassador's statement in a July letter to the
commission that FOL aircraft were not involved in the March 2008
Colombian military operation. However, it charges that FOL-based
satellite intelligence was fundamental in locating FARC leader Raul
Reyes, who was killed in the FARC camp. The report points to an
HC-130 aircraft that it says unusually flew at night on February 29
- March 1 carrying a container with unknown contents. It suggests
that a third country was involved in the Colombian operation,
arguing that the GBU 12 Paveway bomb could not be launched from the
Super Tucano aircraft the Colombians used. The report itself
contradicts this three paragraphs later where it states that the
websites consulted indicate the Super Tucanos do have the
capability to drop such bombs. The report also criticizes the 1999
agreement allowing U.S. use of the FOL for not having been approved
in accordance with legal norms, namely ratification by the
Congress.

4. (SBU) The report describes what it calls an unacceptable
operational dependence on external agencies by the Special
Investigations Unit (UIES) of the Ecuadorian police. It claims
that the UIES blocked information from reaching certain officials
at senior levels and from President Correa. The report charges
that anti-drug agencies followed DEA and CIA priorities rather than
those of the Ecuadorian government and did not always use legal
methods.

5. (C) Support for the Correa administration is currently the
weakest it has been during his presidency. In three recent polls,
respondents' positive ratings of President Correa's performance
declined to 58, 42, and 39 percent. Given this weakness, the GOE
may well decide to seize on the criticism of the USG in the
commission's report to distract attention from other national


problems that have affected its popularity, such as unemployment,
crime, corruption, and electricity outages.

6. (C) The final report was more prejudicial to U.S. interests
than we had expected, given what commission member Walter Gellibert
Larreta told us in early November (Ref A). When we asked Gellibert
on December 11 about this contrast, he claimed that the commission
member who drafted the FOL section, Israel Batista of the Latin
American Council of Churches, had included what Gellibert called
unsubstantiated allegations, e.g., that a FOL aircraft was involved
in carrying out the attack on the FARC camp, but other commission
members made him take those statements out.

Concerns about FARC and Narco-Trafficker Influence

--------------------------------------------- -----

7. (C) The report questions the channels of communication through
which military and police intelligence reported information on the
bombing to civilian authorities. It states that "there are
indications of inability, corruption and failures in military and
police protocol" in authorities' failures to do more to combat the
FARC and narco-traffickers. The report also questions why the
Ecuadorian government did not act on information about Raul Reyes'
movements and places he frequented to attempt his capture, and why
foreign visitors to the FARC camp prior to the bombing were not
detected.

8. (C) The commission's report reviews possible ties to the FARC
of a number of former government officials and other individuals:
former Coordinating Minister for Internal and External Security
Gustavo Larrea, former Government Ministry Under Secretary Jose
Ignacio Chauvin, former Ambassador to Venezuela and retired general
Rene Vargas Pazzos, National Assembly member Maria Augusta Calle,
lawyer Luis Rubio Gallegos, and retired colonel Jorge Brito. The
report provides detailed information of the activities of these
individuals, but does not reach any conclusions about alleged ties
to the FARC and/or narco-trafficking. Instead it refers the matter
to judicial authorities for investigation. It states that all of
the individuals above denied any knowledge of the military and
ideological objectives of the February 2008 Boliviarian Continental
Congress, which was held in Quito.

Conclusions and Recommendations

-------------------------------

9. (C) The majority of the report's conclusions and
recommendations are unfavorable to the U.S. Among them are:

-- The FOL was key to locating FARC leader Raul Reyes.

-- FOL activities exceeded its stated mission of counternarcotics.

-- The violation of national sovereignty of other countries cannot
be justified by any judicial doctrine.

10. (C) Several other conclusions/recommendations, however, are on
the mark:


-- Narco-trafficking and related activities are of such magnitude
that combating them should involve the entire nation.

-- The justice system has failed to determine who is responsible
for narco-trafficking operations.

-- The lack of control of precursor chemicals has allowed the
country to start to be a processing site, in addition to serving
for transit.

-- The FARC and narcotrafficking have penetrated various the
political, judicial, cultural, and social realms.

-- The FARC had the capacity to develop its international relations
strategy and spread its political project via the organization of
the February 2008 Bolivarian congress.

-- The state should guard its borders from foreign persons and
groups.

-- The free movement of people in the interior of the country
should be regulated for reasons of national security.

Comment

-------

11. (C) The anti-American bias of the government commission's
report and its failure to judge those accused of FARC ties bear out
the low expectations of many commentators at the time of its
establishment. We do not see anything new in the charges against
the USG, but rather a rehash of old allegations, which is not
surprising given the commission's lack of access and expert staff.
Government officials almost certainly influenced the report's
conclusions, although we do not know to what extent.
HODGES

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

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