Cablegate: Peace Commissioner Discusses Auc Peace Process And

Published: Wed 1 Dec 2004 02:02 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
id: 23489
date: 12/1/2004 14:56
refid: 04BOGOTA12265
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 04BOGOTA12135|04BOGOTA12146
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 03 BOGOTA 012265
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2014
REF: A. BOGOTA 12135
B. BOGOTA 12146
Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood for reasons
1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) On November 27, Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos
Restrepo briefed Ambassador on developments in the peace
process with the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia
-- Bananero Bloc: demobilization is complete. Thirty-seven
are implicated in major crimes and will stay in the
demobilization zone. The rest will report to the reinsertion
center in Turbo.
-- Catatumbo Bloc: next to demobilize. The Army has devoted
a counterguerrilla battalion from Arauca to secure the area.
-- Cordoba: Protests from cattle ranchers fearful of FARC
retaliation forced Restrepo to halt demobilization. He is
concerned but working with the military to secure the area.
-- Elmer Cardenas Bloc: the independent paramilitary group
powerful in Choco and coastal Antioquia agreed not to invade
former Bananero Bloc territory and proposed a peace process
with several conditions short of declaration of a cease-fire.
The Bloc commander claims the Marines are complicit in drug
trafficking by illegal armed groups and independent
traffickers in the area. Restrepo believes trafficking is a
growing problem along the border with Panama.
-- Others: Small groups in Cundinamarca and southern
Magdalena Departments will be completed this year. Three
blocs in Valle del Cauca and Cauca Departments are scheduled
for early 2005. Restrepo is concerned about drug traffickers
taking over the territory.
2. (C) Restrepo said the GOC will unilaterally release up to
50 imprisoned FARC guerrillas to prove its commitment to
securing the release of FARC hostages. Restrepo advised the
GOC to publicize its latest draft of the Law for Justice and
Reparations but wait until March to present it formally to
Congress. End Summary.
Bananero Bloc Demobilization Completed
3. (C) Restrepo expressed satisfaction with the November 25
demobilization of the Bananero Bloc in Turbo, Antioquia
Deparment (ref A). On November 29, the demobilized
paramilitaries guilty only of membership in an illegal armed
group will depart the demobilization zone and report to the
reinsertion center. There are 37, including Bloc Commander
Ever Velosa ("Hernan Hernandez"), accused of serious crimes
who will remain in the demobilization zone. Restrepo is
working with the Prosecutor General's Office ("Fiscalia") to
bring investigators to the zone to interview the
paramilitaries and process their cases. The police and
military increased their presence to secure the areas
formerly controlled by the Bananero Bloc. Even in the
conflictive area of Nuevo Antioquia, police coverage
prevented nearly all residents from fleeing the area in fear
of guerrilla retaliation.
Catatumbo Bloc Next
4. (C) President Uribe authorized Restrepo to begin the
demobilization of the Catatumbo Bloc in Norte de Santander
Department on November 29. It is the largest and most
well-armed bloc to demobilize this year. The 1,500 members
have at least 900 weapons. The Army will move a
counterguerrilla battalion from Arauca Department to the
areas formerly dominated by the Catatumbo Bloc, and Restrepo
discussed with Counternarcotics Police Commander General
Gomez the possibility of increasing aerial eradication.
Ideally, Restrepo would like Navy patrols on the Catatumbo
River and aerial coverage from the Air Force but neither
service has identified resources to do so, although they know
security must be improved. The Presidential Council for
Social Action is preparing social outreach and civic action
Cordoba Delayed
5. (C) Restrepo tried to begin demobilizing parts of
Mancuso's Northern Bloc in Cordoba Department but protests
from local cattle ranchers forced him to stop. They view the
paramilitaries as necessary to their security and fear the
security forces are not prepared to prevent the FARC from
entering the area, especially on the coast where drug
trafficking flourishes. They threatened to take up arms if
necessary. The FARC have a presence in northern (Abibe
mountain range), southern (Nudo de Paramillo) and eastern
(Puerto Libano) Cordoba. First Division Commander General
Montoya, who has been named to lead a pilot inter-service
unit for the Caribbean coast, will travel to Cordoba on
November 30 to coordinate security. Plans include using at
least two helicopters, a counterguerrilla battalion, and a
separate battalion on the coast.
Elmer Cardenas Bloc Still Skeptical
6. (C) In mid-November Restrepo met with "Aleman," commander
of the independent Elmer Cardenas Bloc (ECB), which operates
in Choco and coastal Antioquia Departments, has 1,500 )
1,800 members, and is well-financed and organized. Aleman
agreed not to invade former Bananero Bloc territory and gave
Restrepo an 11-point peace process proposal, which did not
include a declaration of a cease-fire. He claims, with some
accuracy, that the ECB is in regular contact with the FARC,
and therefore could not comply with a full cease-fire. His
conditions include a mutual cease-fire in exchange for an
increased presence of security forces in nine specific areas,
financial support for his troops, and negotiations on
regional political issues. Aleman has complained that some
members of the Marines cooperate with drug traffickers.
Restrepo asserted that the drug trafficking industry on the
coast near Panama is growing quickly, and that the security
forces do not appear to be well informed about the extent of
the problem.
Other Upcoming Demobilizations
7. (C) Restrepo does not expect difficulties with two small
demobilizations planned in Cundinamarca and southern
Magdalena Departments later this year. Demobilizing the
paramilitary groups on the conflictive eastern plains
("Llanos") continues to be problematic. In early 2005,
Restrepo plans to demobilize Hernan Hernandez's Calima Bloc,
Diego Murillo's ("Don Berna") Pacific Bloc, and Pablo
Sevillano's Liberators of the South in Valle del Cauca and
Cauca Departments. Restrepo is concerned about the Valle
Cartel's ability to take over former paramilitary territory.
He estimates there are at least 4,000 hectares of coca in the
area. Restrepo said the GOC will unilaterally release up to
50 imprisoned FARC guerrillas to prove its commitment to
securing the release of FARC hostages.
Law for Justice and Reparations
8. (C) The GOC revised its April version of the Law for
Justice and Reparations to include some aspects of Senator
Rafael Pardo's draft (ref B). Restrepo advised President
Uribe and the Minister of Interior and Justice to hold public
debate on the draft and present it formally to Congress as
urgent legislation when Congress re-convenes in March.
Restrepo is concerned that there is not enough time left in
this year's legislative session to get the bill passed. He
noted, however, that it was not his decision. The Ambassador
asserted that it was important to get a workable law passed
as soon as possible.
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