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Viewing cable 06BOGOTA2291, AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH PEACE COMMISSIONER RESTREPO

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BOGOTA2291 2006-03-14 15:03 2011-02-24 06:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
Appears in these articles:
http://www.elespectador.com/wikileaks
VZCZCXYZ0029
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #2291/01 0731502
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 141502Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3118
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6651
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 7373
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR LIMA 3401
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 8901
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 4046
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3493
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHOND/DIR ONDCP WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 002291 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/04/2015 
TAGS: KJUS PGOV PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH PEACE COMMISSIONER RESTREPO 

REF: A. BOGOTA 1965 AND PREVIOUS 

     B. BOGOTA 1987 

Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood.
Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d) 

------- 
Summary 
------- 

1. (C) On March 8, Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo
shared his views on the ELN, the paramilitary demobilization 
process, and the country's security situation with the 
Ambassador over dinner at the residence.Restrepo said the 
recent round of talks with the ELN in Havana had been 
difficult, but productive.  The GOC may be prepared to allow 
the opening of more Casas de Paz around the country if the 
ELN agrees to a cessation of hostilities.  Restrepo said the 
OAS report on re-emerging paramilitary activity had given the 
OAS Mission greater legitimacy but the groups mentioned in 
the report are little more than criminal organizations, not 
new paramilitary entities.  He acknowledged that 
reintegrating thousands of demobilized illegal combatants 
would be difficult and agreed that a national "czar" to 
coordinate these efforts was still necessary.  Restrepo
predicted the conflict with the FARC will likely move to 
rural counties, and the GOC is working on a strategy to 
secure those areas.  During dinner, Restrepo was interrupted 
constantly by phone calls from senior Colombian officials, 
including President Uribe, regarding questions over the 
demobilization of a FARC company the day before.  End Summary. 

------------------------------------------- 
ELN Negotiations Difficult, but Productive 
------------------------------------------- 

2. (C) Restrepo said the recent round of talks with the ELN 
in Havana had been difficult (see ref A).  At one point, the 
ELN negotiators sought to have him removed from the 
negotiations and threatened him in front of the Spanish and 
Cuban representatives.Restrepo said members of Colombian 
civil society had advised the ELN against talking to him, 
calling him an "extremist."  Restrepo said the ELN is 
committed to the negotiations, but this did not necessarily 
mean they were prepared to conclude an agreement.  Restrepo
underscored that the ELN wants near-term, tangible benefits 
from its negotiations, such as the lifting of Interpol red 
notices to allow them travel to Europe, and the release of a 
former ELN commander from Valle de Cauca, now incarcerated 
and charged with a mass kidnapping in Cali.  Restrepo
reiterated the GOC,s preference that negotiations continue 
in Cuba, where the GOC can maintain better control, rather 
than Europe, as the ELN has advocated. 

3. (C) Restrepo assessed the negotiations have reached a 
point where neither side can leave the table without 
suffering political costs.  The ELN expects President Uribe 
to win the May election and has decided to work within this 
&political reality,8 which he thought would contribute to 
further progress in the April round of talks.  Restrepo added 
that the FARC opposes the ELN,s decision to negotiate with 
the GOC, placing the ELN in a more vulnerable security 
situation, improving the prospects that the ELN will stick 
with the process. 

------------------------ 
Future of ELN Guarantors 
------------------------ 

4. (C) Restrepo said the civil society guarantors of the 
GOC-ELN talks are struggling for continued relevance.  In his 
view, their presence is less necessary now that negotiations 
have begun.  Some civil society groups, such as human rights 
NGO MINGA, have asked for Casas de Paz in other parts of the 
country, but the GOC is hesitant to support that idea because 
it would be unable t provide security for them at this time. 
 The GOC has proposed, however, that if the ELN halts all 
hostilities, it will allow other Casas de Paz to be opened, a 
proposal that has received support from some organizations, 
such as the labor federation CUT. 

--------------------------------- 
Rumors of Paramilitary Resurgence 
------------------------------------ 

5.  (C) Restrepo said the March 1 OAS report noting a 
re-emergence of paramilitary activity in some parts of the 
country gave the OAS Mission greater legitimacy, but put the 
GOC in a difficult political situation (Ref B).  He has 
received similar reports of illicit activity*sometimes from 
former paramilitary leaders themselves*but has been unable 
to find evidence to support the claims. Restrepo acknowledged 
that the GOC should take responsibility for any new emergence 
of paramilitaries, but insisted it was limited in what it 
could do about localized paramilitary groups, since those 
groups had not been at the negotiating table.  He said these 
groups are essentially localized mafias, lacking in the 
discourse, ideology, and national unity that the 
paramilitaries once espoused. 

6. (C) Restrepo said the demob reinsertion process was at its 
lowest point in terms of credibility, and the OAS report 
reinforced that perception.  He agreed that a "czar" for 
re-integration efforts was still necessary.  At the moment, 
each government entity involved was moving at its own pace 
out of sync.  Restrepo said Jorge 40,s planned 
demobilization on March 10 would mark an important step in 
the demobilization process, but a long road still lay ahead 
in terms of justice and reparations. 

-------------------------------------- 
Mounting Concern for Rural Communities 
------------------------------------------ 

6.  (C) Restrepo predicted the conflict with the FARC would 
likely move to the corregimientos (rural county equivalent), 
and said the GOC was already developing a plan to improve 
security.  Many of these communities, because of their 
location in mobility corridors and links to the illicit 
economy, are vulnerable to FARC incursions.  If the FARC 
successfully starts taking over these areas, Restrepo said 
the dynamic of the conflict would change. As an example, he 
cited a community located in a mobility corridor between San 
Luis and Puerto Triunfo, Antioquia where a small group of 
guerrillas recently arrived and advised the population they 
were again in charge.  While the guerrillas did not take 
military action against the community, they intimidated the 
locals, including demobilized paramilitaries still in that 
area.  He worried that the military does not know the local 
geography and is not focused on the strategic importance of 
these small populations.  Restrepo said these towns need 
greater attention from the military and intelligence 
entities, as well as more social programs.  Restrepo,s
office plans to write up a paper on the threat to the 
corregimientos and what can be done to correct it.  He agreed 
to provide the Embassy with a copy. 

------------------------- 
FARC Demobilization Drama 
-------------------------- 

7. (C) The meeting was interrupted a few times by phone calls 
from Colombian officials, including an unhappy President 
Uribe, regarding the demobilization of a FARC company the day 
before (septel).  Although press reports initially claimed 
the company had handed over an airplane during the 
demobilization, subsequent reporting revealed the plane had 
been in Colombian custody for two years.  Restrepo said Uribe 
was concerned that the handling of this issue had damaged GOC 
credibility.  As an aside, Restrepo said the FARC had lost 
ground with the international community and that the 
International Commission, which had put forward the latest 
proposal on a humanitarian exchange in December 12, had 
little more to offer to the process. 
WOOD