Cablegate: Peace Commissioner Lays Out Way Ahead On Farc, Eln


DE RUEHBO #0013/01 0071344
R 071344Z JAN 10

S E C R E T BOGOTA 000013


E.O. 12958: DECL: 2035/01/07
SUBJECT: Peace Commissioner Lays Out Way Ahead on FARC, ELN

REF: 09 BOGOTA 3281

CLASSIFIED BY: William R. Brownfield, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)



1. (S/NF) Colombian High Commissioner for Peace Frank Pearl told
the Ambassador January 5 that his office is preparing "roadmaps"
for the next Administration on how best to pursue peace agreements
with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National
Liberation Army (ELN). Pearl acknowledged that the GOC had
communicated with both groups in order to develop the road maps and
build confidence. Both groups have expressed minimum conditions
for a peace process that is supported by the GOC, the military, the
private sector, and the international community. In the short
term, Pearl plans to focus on the humanitarian release of FARC
hostages and a secret meeting between the GOC and ELN with an aim
to revitalizing the stalled peace talks. Wild cards include
President Uribe's possible reelection, support from Venezuelan
President Chavez, and the FARC's acquisition of "game-changing"
weaponry such as man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). End

Roadmaps for Peace


2. (S/NF) At a breakfast hosted by the Ambassador on January 5,
Peace Commissioner Frank Pearl disclosed that when he took office
in February last year, he assessed that there was not enough time
left in the Uribe Administration (which ends August 7, 2010) for
either the FARC or ELN to conclude a peace agreement with the GOC.
He said his office had instead been focused on developing
communication channels and building confidence with both terrorist
organizations. Responses from these contacts, he continued, had
informed the development of "roadmaps" that define both a desired
end-state and the process to get there. The International
Organization for Migration (IOM), supported by USAID, was drafting
many of the documents. Pearl planned to present these fleshed out
plans to the president-elect (or to President Uribe if he is
reelected) in June to help guide the next Administration.

3. (S/NF) From the FARC, Pearl had seen little interest in
initiating peace talks. FARC Supreme Leader Alfonso Cano was still
consolidating his authority and proving his mettle as a military
commander. It would have been impossible for Cano, he surmised, to
have broached peace talks so soon after taking the reins of the
FARC in May 2008. Still, Pearl noted that the deaths of three
Secretariat members in 2008 had resulted in replacements that were
more educated, intellectual, and aware of the international context
of the conflict. This, coupled with an analysis of recent FARC
communiques, suggested that the organization was open to a
political solution to the conflict. He said other sources had
signaled that the FARC's preferred end-state is the transition to a
series of social networks (presumably comprised of demobilized
fronts) that interface with a political party. Pearl admitted that
such a solution was years away, but that having a notion of the
other side's goals and objectives at the outset was important.

4. (S/NF) In the short term, Pearl said the GOC would continue to
pursue the humanitarian release of two military hostages and the
remains of a third held by the FARC. He said FARC interlocutor
Piedad Cordoba told him December 24 that release was imminent but

on December 29 reported that the FARC had rejected a facilitation
role by Brazil and had counter-offered with Argentina or Sweden.
The Ambassador counseled that the GOC cultivate the International
Commission of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Catholic Church as
interlocutors for the humanitarian release rather than depend
solely on the Chavez-linked Senator Cordoba.

5. (S/NF) Pearl contrasted the FARC's situation with that of the
ELN, which had developed a comprehensive basic framework agreement
during talks that stalled in early 2008. He said the ELN's Central
Command (COCE) had indicated interest in reviving those talks under
appropriate conditions (ref). Pearl commented that the ELN process
had been facilitated initially by Cuban government officials expert
in peace talks, resulting in a substantive but incomplete peace
proposal. The Commissioner confided that he had offered the COCE a
secret, one- or two-day meeting as a confidence-building exercise.
He said the COCE is considering the offer but is stuck on the
meeting location: Colombia (difficult for the ELN), Venezuela
(difficult for the GOC), or Norway (a logistical nightmare but
still a possibility). If successful, Pearl contemplated having two
or three such meetings before the end of the current Uribe
Administration. The Ambassador reminded Pearl that the Embassy had
contracted a U.S.-based academic familiar with the process to
consult on ways for the USG to be supportive of GOC efforts with
the ELN. Pearl was grateful for USAID assistance in drafting white
papers that outlined the ELN negotiating positions.

Common Ground


6. (S/NF) Pearl said that both guerrilla groups had responded
through sensitive channels with the same four minimum conditions
for a peace agreement. First, the GOC must be willing to give its
unambiguous and unanimous support for the agreement. Signing a
peace agreement, Pearl emphasized, was just the beginning of the
process and the terrorist groups have, because of historical
precedent, a deep distrust of the GOC's good faith. Second, the
military must be included in the process, a reminder that the
Colombian Army opposed and worked against civilian-led peace talks
in the 1980s and 1990s. Third, both groups seek participation by
the private sector, which they view as the true power behind
Colombian politics. Fourth, the ELN and FARC want some form of
international accompaniment for the process. Pearl foresees a
positive role for the international community once the process has
reached a sufficient level of maturity. International well-wishers
coming in too early, he stressed, could aggravate the delicate
process. Regarding a U.S. role, he said that both groups were
interested in an agreement with the United States over illegal drug
cultivation, which they viewed as a social problem.

Wild Cards: Reelection and Venezuela


7. (S/NF) Pearl said there were two schools of thought about the
impact of an Uribe third term on negotiations. Some believed that
the third term would only exacerbate the tensions between Uribe and
Chavez, which could play to the FARC's advantage. Others thought
that the reelection would cause the FARC to despair at four more
years of Uribe's Democratic Security policy and to consider
negotiations. Ambassador Brownfield added that Venezuela's
political and material support to the FARC could be a game-changer,
especially if Venezuela were to give the FARC portable
surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS). Pearl agreed that such weapons
could upset the strategic balance of the conflict.



8. (S/NF) Pearl's presentation was structured, logical, and
rehearsed. He clearly wanted to control our expectations over what
could be accomplished in the short run. That said, it is a
realistic plan given that Colombians will be seized with choosing
(or reelecting) a president for much of 2010. We should continue
our support of the GOC as it develops these initiatives, being
careful not to get too far out in front. End comment.


© Scoop Media

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