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Viewing cable 05LIMA2158, COCALEROS ATTRACTIVE TO POLITICAL GROUPS BUT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05LIMA2158 2005-05-12 18:06 2010-12-12 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Lima
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 LIMA 002158 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/11/2014 
TAGS: SNAR ASEC PGOV PTER PE
SUBJECT: COCALEROS ATTRACTIVE TO POLITICAL GROUPS BUT 
NARCOTRAFFICKERS GIVE THEM ALL THE SUPPORT THEY NEED 

REF: A. LIMA 2055 

B. LIMA 1929 
C. LIMA 1794 
D. LIMA 1712 
E. LIMA 1418 

Classified By: PolCouns Alexander Margulies. Reason: 1.4 (b,d) 

1. (C) Summary: Although the various cocalero groups remain 
fragmented with no national leadership or strategy, they are 
courted by disparate radical elements in Peruvian society who 
view the cocaleros as potential allies. In addition, there 
is evidence that narcotraffickers are arming and radicalizing 
cocaleros creating an increasing threat to eradication teams. 
Bolivian followers of Evo Morales are traveling widely in 
the Apurimac and Ene river valleys (VRAE) area to garner 
support for a MAS-style Peruvian cocalero party. A coca 
researcher's recent visit to the VRAE during the last two 
weeks of April found cocaleros eager to be the ones to down a 
helicopter. The Peruvian National Police (PNP) are 
responding with interdiction operations in the Upper Huallaga 
Valleys and VRAE, and they plan a prolonged eradication 
operation in the area of recent helicopter attacks in 
Polvora-Pizana area of San Martin. End Summary. 

2. (C) In the wake of the fizzled Third Cocalero Congress 
(Ref E), cocalero organizations have still failed to develop 
an effective national strategy or organization. However, 
cocaleros constitute an increasingly vocal single-issue bloc 
in their own areas, and local cocalero power is turning some 
districts into no-man's lands that defy the limited capacity 
of law enforcement to respond; XXXXXXXXXXXX a lon
 time Embassy contact told Poloff on 5/3 of  his recent investigation
of VRAE coca growing areas; he found  his contacts increasingly
 reluctant to share information as  the long reach of narcotraffickers
made talking to outsiders  risky. 

3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX contacts reported no knowledge of 
Venezuelan agents in the Apurimac valleys, but they said that 
Bolivian representatives of the MAS party were frequent 
visitors. From a trip to Cuzco several weeks earlier, 
XXXXXXXXXXXX reported that Bolivian MAS representatives
were  making a heavy recruiting effort. XXXXXXXXXXXX 
said that the  failure of MAS leader Evo Morales to complete a
planned trip  to Cuzco in early April was the main reason that
Cuzco  cocaleros did not rally to form a MAS-style party. 

4. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX contacts reported that APRA party 
representatives were also canvassing cocalero areas in Cuzco 
and the Apurimac Valleys, but that other political parties 
were not in evidence except for "Peru Ahora," a traditional 
supporter of cocalero causes. His contacts saw little 
serious effort by labor unions to court cocaleros in these 
areas. (Note: Labor centrals and left-wing parties have 
supported cocalero protests in Lima and other urban areas, 
but their courtship has not/not extended to aggressive 
outreach to the cocaleros in their home areas. End Note. ) 

5. (C) What was increasing in the VRAE districts,
XXXXXXXXXXXX said, was the takeover of local politic
 by cocaleros and  narcotraffickers. He noted that the
creation of new  districts in 1992 during the Fujimori era,
designed to  increase state presence in remote areas,
had backfired, with  whole districts having city councils
and mayoral  administrations that favored cocalero interests.
Examples were Pichali, Santa Rosa and Sivia districts in the
VRAE.  The increased buying power of cocaleros was one
reason for  this infiltration of coca into local politics, fueled by a 
significant increase in the hectarage under cultivation. 

6. (C) Cocalero influence was gradually seeping into 
provincial and regional politics, XXXXXXXXXXXX continued.
(Note:  decentralization is bringing increasing control at the 
regional and provincial level over government financial 
resources. End Note.) The La Convencion Province (Cuzco 
Department), for example, recently included in its budget a 
line item for the "sacred leaf." Ayacucho Regional President 
Omar Quesada (who in January declared coca a cultural 
patrimony) did a publicized walking tour in late April to 
connect with residents abutting a road project running 
through provincial capital Querobamba (a relatively new 
province, created in 1986). XXXXXXXXXXXX,s contacts
 reported  that at night Quesada met with cocaleros after his
publicized  development meetings during the day. In March,
Quesada  signed a declaration with Ayacucho cocaleros calling
on the  GOP to suspend all eradication efforts and for an end to 
alternative development programs. (Note: When PolCouns 
confronted APRA co-Secretary General Jorge del Castillo with 
this declaration, the latter stated that this did not reflect 
APRA's position and that he would take this mater up with the 
party's political committee. End Note.) 

7. (C) The potential for cocalero violence appears to be 
growing. XXXXXXXXXXXX contacts uniformly reported that 
narcotraffickers were training and arming cocaleros. Local 
employment is increasing of non-growers (frequently family 
members of growers) for trafficking-related tasks such as 
transporting coca paste with backpacks, driving pack mules, 
operating maceration pits, manual labor for cocaine labs and 
joining narcotraffickers as foot soldiers. The cocaleros 
were increasingly receptive, XXXXXXXXXXXX said, to
viewing their  coca fields as something worth fighting for and
to the offer  of arms and firearm training to effect defense of
their fields. Cocaine labs were increasing, XXXXXXXXXXXX 
continued,  and the highest-paying jobs went to those entrusted 
with  delivering cocaine to Lima. 

8. (C) While XXXXXXXXXXXX,s visit yielded little evidence
of  direct Sendero Luminoso (SL) activity in the VRAE, the 
narcotrafficker influence made the area equally dangerous. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX on this trip was unable to enter areas tha
 he had  on previous trips. The contacts that would speak to him 
reported that any contact with outsiders was increasingly 
dangerous. Many people have disappeared in recent months, 
either from running afoul of narcotraffickers or victims of 
local score-settling that the lawless climate facilitates. 

9. (C) The high level of organization that cocaleros have 
used to menace helicopters on eradication missions further 
north in the Upper Huallaga River region (Refs A - D) is an 
indication of an escalation in their organization, training 
and tactics. In a tactic that has become common during 
eradication operations over the past weeks, cocaleros hang 
back during eradication and the initial stages of evacuation 
of the eradicators and their security elements. When all 
helicopters have departed save one, and the PNP security is 
withdrawing to mount the last helicopter, the cocaleros then 
close in with extensive launching of rocks (up to 2 lbs) from 
long-range slings. Security police and crew departing from 
the last helos have reported that the front line of cocaleros 
will launch their rocks, then crouch so that a second, and 
then a third line of rock-slingers can launch their 
projectiles against the helo cabin and rotor blades. 

10. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX,s visit to the VRAE came after the
April 12  attacks to the north (Refs A - D); his contacts reported
the wide dissemination of the perceived success by cocaleros
and  their allies in damaging the helicopters. Groups of 
cocaleros held parties to celebrate the helicopter attacks. 
Several contacts noted that in past years SL fighters had 
poor success in downing Army helicopters
 XXXXXXXXXXXX,s  contacts further reported that many
Apurimac cocaleros in the  VRAE expressed hopes that they
could be involved in the  downing of a helicopter. 

11. (C) While so far cocaleros have used sling-launched rocks 
against eradicators, their security elements and helicopters, 
XXXXXXXXXXXX painted a disturbing picture for the future.
His  contacts in the VRAE said that narcotraffickers are arming 
cocaleros there at an unprecedented rate, either selling 
modern selective-fire rifles such as FN-FALs and Galils - and 
even rocket launchers - or giving them the arms as an advance 
on coca sales. Cocaleros increasingly perceive their 
interests as an armed resistance to any eradication efforts 
in the future. 

12. (C) National Police chief Marco Miyashiro has noted 
privately to Emboffs and publicly that the PNP,s current 
emphasis on interdicting cocaine base laboratories is 
designed, and to a degree has been successful in delinking 
coca growers from narcotraffickers. When PNP units strike 
laboratories, coca growers are torn between protecting their 
own fields and protecting narcotrafficker production labs. 
By and large they choose to stay with their fields, and as a 
result there have been few large-scale protests or assaults 
on the PNP troops while they are destroying the pits. An 
ominous sign for the future, however, is the growing trend 
that coca growers operate their own maceration pits; some may 
begin a more aggressive defense of their pits. 

13. (C) Comment: This report, based chiefly on a well-placed 
and historically reliable source may not reflect the entire 
picture but is disturbing. GOP helicopters and eradication 
teams, as well as alternative development workers, will be 
put at ever higher risk without action by the government to 
exert state control over the increasingly lawless coca zones 
such as the VRAE and Upper Huallaga. The PNP raid of April 24 
(Ref B) found evidence that clearly linked the SL and 
narco-trafficking in the San Martin/Ucayali/Huanuco 
Departments. Current PNP plans to mount extensive operations 
where helicopters have been attacked are promising. The PNP 
is continuing interdiction operations in the Upper Huallaga 
and in the immediate future, DIRANDRO will deploy 350 
counter-narcotic police to the Polvora-Pizana area in support 
of a prolonged eradication and interdiction operation. In 
addition, a multi-tiered enforcement operation will begin in 
the VRAE in June to destroy cocaine-base labs. Enactment of 
a new coca law that continues to be advanced by some 
congressmen would probably reinforce the growing power of 
local and regional coca politicians and give cocaleros an 
incentive to unite on a national basis; the Embassy will 
continue to discourage consideration of a coca law on all 
fronts. 

STRUBLE