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Viewing cable 09BOGOTA1632, POLITICIAN WITH FARC CONTACTS REACHES OUT TO

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BOGOTA1632 2009-05-26 18:06 2010-12-08 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #1632/01 1461825
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 261825Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8837
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8921
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 2288
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 7595
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 3685
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 8296
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNFB/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 001632 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/26/2019 
TAGS: PTER PREL PGOV PHUM MOPS CO
SUBJECT: POLITICIAN WITH FARC CONTACTS REACHES OUT TO 
EMBASSY 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor John Creamer 
Reasons 1.4 (b and d) 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
1. (C) At the urging of National Conciliation Commission 
official Father Dario Echeverri, Polcouns met with XXXXXXXXXXXX--
a politician who was previously authorized by the GOC 
to transmit messages to the FARC.  XXXXXXXXXXXX stressed he had no 
specific message for the USG, but wanted to establish a 
"relationship" with the Embassy.  He agreed conditions are 
not ripe for GOC-FARC peace talks, but said FARC Secretariat 
member Pablo Catatumbo believes that USG participation would 
be key to any eventual peace process.  XXXXXXXXXXXX said the FARC 
is trying to regain political visibility with its recent 
unilateral hostage releases, and dismissed the notion that 
FARC leaders Alfonso Cano and Mono Jojoy are rivals.  End 
Summary. 
 
2. (C) Polcouns met with XXXXXXXXXXXX politician XXXXXXXXXXXX 
at the Catholic Bishops Conference facility in Bogota 
on May 14.  The GOC was aware of the meeting, which was 
organized and attended by National Conciliation Commission 
Secretary-General Father Dario Echeverri.  XXXXXXXXXXXX said FARC 
Secretariat member Jorge Torres Victoria (Pablo Catatumbo), 
his primary FARC contact, had encouraged him to establish 
contact with the Embassy.  XXXXXXXXXXXX stressed that he did not 
bring a message from the FARC for the USG, but said he wanted 
to establish a "relationship" with the Embassy that could 
prove useful in the future.  He said Catatumbo is convinced 
that USG participation in any eventual peace process with the 
GOC would be key to success.  XXXXXXXXXXXX was authorized by the 
GOC to transmit messages to the FARC from July 2008 until 
March 2009. 
 
FARC PLAYING POLITICS WITH HOSTAGES 
----------------------------------- 
3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said there is nothing humanitarian about the 
FARC's recent hostage releases.  The FARC released the 
hostages to regain some political visibility and relieve 
itself of the economic and security costs incurred in holding 
them.  Several FARC commanders have openly complained to 
XXXXXXXXXXXX that the hostages are a growing burden due to 
Colombian military pressure.  He said the FARC Secretariat 
realizes that Uribe will never agree to a humanitarian 
accord, but wants to continue with the releases to maximize 
the political impact.  Still, he felt the FARC will not free 
any more hostages unilaterally unless Uribe reverses his 
current stance and allows Senator Piedad Cordoba to 
participate. 
 
TIME NOT RIPE FOR PEACE TALKS 
----------------------------- 
4. (C) XXXXXXXXXXX said conditions are not ripe for GOC-FARC talks 
aimed at starting peace negotiations due to the on-going 
presidential election campaign and the deep distrust on both 
sides.  Still, he said that at an appropriate moment in the 
future, a gesture from the USG to the FARC, such as allowing 
a representative of a U.S. non-governmental organization to 
accompany a meeting between the GOC and the FARC, could 
provide an impetus to start talks. 
 
5. (C) XXXXXXXXXXX said he worked with then Peace Commissioner 
Luis Carlos Restrepo in early 2008 to develop and implement 
projects targeting the rural (campesino) population in Valle 
de Cauca, with FARC knowledge and consent.  He noted that 
Catatumbo had even facilitated some of the GOC's meetings 
with campesino leaders.  XXXXXXXXXXXX also claimed he worked to 
develop a similar project in southern Tolima, but said the 
effort stalled due to opposition from then Defense Minister 
Juan Manuel Santos, who argued that the project was "merely 
feeding the guerrillas."  In contrast, Restrepo believed that 
working with the campesinos was a way for the GOC to build 
confidence and establish contact with the FARC. 
 
FARC LEADERSHIP NOT DIVIDED 
--------------------------- 
6. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX dismissed the notion that FARC Secretariat 
leaders Guillermo Saenz (Alfonso Cano) and Jorge Briceno 
 
(Mono Jojoy) are rivals, claiming that Jojoy, Cano and 
Catatumbo are good friends.  XXXXXXXXXXXX observed that Jojoy lacks 
Cano's and Catatumbo's educational background, but said Jojoy 
understands that the FARC's struggle is political, not 
military.  XXXXXXXXXXX said all three FARC leaders wanted to drop 
the FARC's demand for a demilitarized zone as a condition for 
a humanitarian exchange long before Operation Check (Jaque), 
but then FARC leader Marulanda had refused. 
 
7. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said Jojoy accepts Cano's leadership and 
supports his effort to develop a more active political 
strategy.  He added that while Cano originally was perceived 
by rank-and-file FARC as an intellectual rather than a 
fighter, his ability to survive constant Colombian military 
pressure over the last year has begun to enhance his image 
among FARC fighters. 
Brownfield