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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
00BOGOTA6096
2000-07-13 22:24:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bogota
Cable title:  

COLOMBIAN TERRORISM - DEFENSE OFFICIALS PAINT

Tags:   PTER  PGOV  PREL  CO  PINS 
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R 132224Z JUL 00
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6026
						C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 006096 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/12/12
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL CO PINS
SUBJECT: COLOMBIAN TERRORISM - DEFENSE OFFICIALS PAINT
BLEAK PICTURE



1. CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR CURTIS W. KAMMAN. REASON
1.5(B).



2. (C) SUMMARY: COORDINATOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM MIKE
SHEEHAN AND ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (SOLIC) BRIAN
SHERIDAN MET WITH COLOMBIAN MINISTER OF DEFENSE LUIS
RAMIREZ, THE COMMANDER OF MILITARY FORCES FERNANDO TAPIAS,
AND THE CHIEFS OF THE VARIOUS ARMED SERVICE BRANCHES.
SHEEHAN AND SHERIDAN ASKED THE MILITARY LEADERS HOW THE USG
COULD BEST SEND THE MESSAGE THAT THE USG WILL NOT TOLERATE
FARC AND OTHER VIOLENCE WITHOUT SHOWING THAT THE USG IS
FEARFUL OF FARC RETALIATION. THE COLOMBIAN MILITARY
LEADERS USED THE FORUM TO DESCRIBE THE MULTITUDE OF
PROBLEMS THEY FACE IN TRYING TO ELIMINATE COLOMBIAN
TERRORIST GROUPS, OFTEN VENTING THEIR FRUSTRATION. THOSE
AT THE TABLE CITED DISTURBING NEW TRENDS IN THE KIDNAPPING
INDUSTRY AS THE FINANCIAL ENGINE OF THE TERRORIST GROUPS
AND TROUBLING EVIDENCE THAT EVEN THE PARAMILITARY GROUPS
WHOSE STATED MISSION IS TO FIGHT LEFTIST TERRORISTS ARE
RESORTING TO THE SAME TERROR TACTICS USED BY THEIR ENEMIES.
TAPIAS NOTED THAT THE PARAMILITARIES' STRENGTH EXCEEDED
THAT OF THE ELN, AND WOULD EVENTUALLY ECLIPSE THE FARC AS
WELL. SHEEHAN NOTED THAT THE USG WAS INVESTIGATING WHETHER
PARAMILITARIES COULD BE DESIGNATED AS A FOREIGN TERRORIST
ORGANIZATION. END SUMMARY


LEGISLATION NOT STRONG ENOUGH; "JAILS ARE A JOKE"



3. (C) SHEEHAN AND SHERIDAN LISTENED TO A LITANY OF
COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE COLOMBIAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM, INCLUDING
MINISTER RAMIREZ'S ARGUMENT FOR TOUGHER LEGISLATION AND
PENAL CODES THAT WOULD ALLOW THE GOVERNMENT TO TAKE A
STRONGER STAND AGAINST TERRORISTS AND GUERRILLAS.
SENTENCES ARE LIGHT AND TOO OFTEN COMMUTED. TAPIAS
CONFIRMED THIS POINT, STRESSING THAT THE JAIL SYSTEM WAS "A
JOKE" WHICH DID NOT DETER CRIMINALS. HE NOTED THAT THE
INDIVIDUAL DETAINED AS A SUSPECT ON THE CALI CHURCH
KIDNAPPING HAS ALREADY FLED PRISON.


CRIME-TERRORISM LINK



4. (C) RAMIREZ AND TAPIAS ALSO NOTED THE INCREASINGLY
POWERFUL ARMS AVAILABLE TO THE TERRORISTS ON THE BLACK
MARKET, WHILE OTHERS NOTED THE OUTSOURCING OF CRIMINAL
ACTIVITY BY THE FARC AND THE ELN. THEY ALSO NOTED THAT THE
FARC IS BEGINNING TO ENCROACH ON URBAN AREAS. SHEEHAN
STRESSED THAT THE COLOMBIANS HAD TO TAKE A VERY STRONG
STAND AND MAKE CLEAR THAT THEY WILL DEAL WITH TERRORISM AND
VIOLENCE AS A CRIME, NOT A POLITICAL ISSUE. ALL INVOLVED
WITH TERRORISM - REGARDLESS OF WHETHER INVOLVED IN
FUNDRAISING, HARBORING TERRORISTS, OR CARRYING OUT
TERRORIST ACTS - HAD TO BE PUNISHED. GEN JORGE MORA,
COMMANDER OF THE COLOMBIAN ARMY, NOTED THAT THEY FELT
CAUGHT BETWEEN THEIR DESIRE TO WORK FOR TOUGHER LAWS AND
LAW ENFORCEMENT AND EUROPEAN AND OTHER PRESSURE NOT TO DO
ANYTHING THAT WOULD MAKE THE GOC APPEAR TO BE VIOLATING
INTERNATIONALLY ACCEPTED HUMAN RIGHTS. HE ALSO STRESSED
THAT THE TERRORIST AND REBEL GROUPS MUST RECEIVE THE
MESSAGE FROM THE UNITED STATES THAT THEIR ACTIONS WILL BE
SEEN AS TERRORISM.



5. (C) SHEEHAN CONFIRMED THE UNITED STATES' CONCERN ABOUT
TERRORISM IN COLOMBIA, NOTING THAT HE WOULD URGE OTHER
PARTS OF THE GOVERNMENT TO PUBLICLY EXPRESS THEIR
OPPOSITION TO TERRORIST GROUPS. ALTHOUGH "PLAN COLOMBIA"
WAS NOT THE MAIN TOPIC OF CONVERSATION, IT AND THE USG'S
PENDING FINANCIAL RESPONSE WAS IMPLICIT IN THE EXCHANGE.
THE COLOMBIANS OPENLY STATED THE NEED FOR INCREASED
RESOURCES AND TRAINING.



6. (C) COMMENT: THE GOC OFFICIALS AT THE MEETING SEEMED
TO GO OUT OF THEIR WAY NOT TO BLAME PRESIDENT PASTRANA OR
EVEN TO MENTION HIS NAME. THIS OMISSION IS AT ODDS WITH
LOCAL MEDIA AND EVEN STREET GRAFFITI IN WHICH PASTRANA'S
"PEACE AT ANY COST" STANCE IS EQUATED WITH WEAKNESS AND AN
UNWILLINGNESS TO CONFRONT THE THREAT REPRESENTED BY THE
FARC, THE ELN, THE PARAMILITARIES, AND OTHER TERRORIST
ORGANIZATIONS. DESPITE STATING THEIR LACK OF RESOURCES,
THE MILITARY LEADERS GAVE NO INDICATION THAT THEY WERE
LOBBYING FOR AN INCREASE IN MILITARY SPENDING, CURRENTLY
ABOUT THREE AND A HALF PERCENT OF GDP. END COMMENT.


KAMMAN


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