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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
01BOGOTA5460 2001-06-18 18:23:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
Cable title:  

COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT/FARC BEGIN HUMANITARIAN

Tags:   PHUM PTER PGOV PREL PINS MARR CO 
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O 181823Z JUN 01
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2080
INFO NSC WASHDC
AMEMBASSY PANAMA 
AMEMBASSY CARACAS 
AMEMBASSY QUITO 
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 
AMEMBASSY LIMA 
USCINCSO MIAMI FL
JOINT STAFF WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
DIRONDCP WASHDC
AMEMBASSY HANOI
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 005460 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 6/18/11
TAGS: PHUM PTER PGOV PREL PINS MARR CO
SUBJECT: COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT/FARC BEGIN HUMANITARIAN
EXCHANGE/FARC MANIPULATES EVENT



1. CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR ANNE W. PATTERSON. REASONS:
1.5(C,D).



2. (U) ON JUNE 16, THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT AND THE FARC
BEGAN THE PLANNED EXCHANGE OF CAPTURED SOLDIERS AND
POLICEMEN FOR IMPRISONED FARC GUERRILLAS WITH THE FARC
RELEASE OF 29 POLICEMEN AND SOLDIERS AND THE GOC RELEASE
OF 11 FARC GUERRILLAS. ON JUNE 17, THE FARC RELEASED AN
ADDITIONAL FOUR POLICEMEN IN A SEPARATE CEREMONY. BY JUNE
18, A TOTAL OF 47 SOLDIERS AND POLICEMEN HAD BEEN
RELEASED. THE NEXT STEP IS FOR THE FARC TO UNILATERALLY
RELEASE SOME 100 ADDITIONAL POLICEMEN/SOLDIERS IN THE VERY
NEAR FUTURE. MANY OF THE RELEASED POLICEMEN AND SOLDIERS
HAD BEEN HELD BY THE FARC SINCE THEIR CAPTURE DURING THE
DISASTROUS ARMY AND POLICE DEFEATS AT MIRAFLORES AND MITU
(1998) AND PUERTO RICO (1999).



3. (C) THE FARC RENEGED ON ITS WORD TO THE GOC THAT IT
WOULD KEEP THE EVENT AT A LOW PROFILE BY BRINGING
INTERNATIONAL PRESS TO THE RELEASE OF THE
SOLDIERS/POLICEMEN AND CREATING A LARGE INTERNATIONAL
MEDIA EVENT. ARMED FORCES COMMANDER GEN. FERNANDO TAPIAS
CALLED THE FARC MEDIA DISPLAY A "SPECTACLE," AND ADDED
THAT THE FARC RELEASE IN NO WAY MADE UP FOR THE INHUMANE,
CONCENTRATION-CAMP TYPE CONDITIONS THE SOLDIERS/POLICEMEN
WERE HELD IN FOR YEARS. ALTHOUGH MOST RELEASED
SOLDIERS/POLICEMEN RESERVED COMMENTS, ONE SOLDIER'S
COMMENT THAT THE FARC "TREATED THEM LIKE ANIMALS" WAS
WIDELY DISSEMINATED BY THE LOCAL PRESS. (NOTE: EMBASSY
SOURCES SAY THAT THE MILITARY HIERARCHY HAD INSISTED TO
THE GOC THAT THE EXCHANGES BE DONE VERY LOW KEY TO KEEP
THE FARC FROM GAINING POLITICAL MILEAGE FROM THE EVENT.
ALTHOUGH THE GOC HAD APPARENTLY REACHED AGREEMENT WITH THE
FARC ON THIS ISSUE, THE FARC DID AN END-RUN ON THE GOC BY
BRINGING THE INTERNATIONAL PRESS TO COVER THE EVENT. END
NOTE.)



4. (C) SEPARATELY, OF THE 12 FARC GUERRILLAS WHO WERE DUE
FOR RELEASE ALSO ON JUNE 16, ONLY 11 WERE RELEASED WHEN
ONE OPTED TO COMPLETE HIS SENTENCE AND LEAVE THE FARC.
DESPITE WIDESPREAD SPECULATION THAT THIS GROUP WOULD
INCLUDE SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT UPPER AND MID-LEVEL
FARC COMMANDERS IN COLOMBIA'S JAILS, NONE OF THE RELEASED
BELONGED TO THE FARC POLITICAL OR MILITARY HIERARCHY, AND,
IN FACT, MOST WERE NO MORE THAN FOOT SOLDIERS OR LOW-LEVEL
URBAN MILITIAS. HOWEVER, MILITARY INTELLIGENCE SOURCES
TOLD POLOFF ON JUNE 18 THAT THREE OR FOUR ADDITIONAL FARC
PRISONERS ARE DUE TO BE RELEASED SOON, AND THAT THIS GROUP
MAY CONTAIN SOME HIGHER RANKING FARC MEMBERS.



5. (C) COMMENT: PREDICTABLY, THE FARC USED THE
HUMANITARIAN EXCHANGE TO STAGE A MEDIA SHOW, PROBABLY TO
TRY TO REPAIR ITS BADLY-TARNISHED INTERNATIONAL IMAGE.
FOR ITS PART, THE GOC DESERVES CREDIT FOR HAVING FOUGHT
OFF FARC PRESSURE TO INCLUDE SOME OF THE FARC'S IMPORTANT
CADRES AND MORE NOTORIOUS PERPETRATORS OF ACTS OF EXTREME
VIOLENCE AMONG THE RELEASED. HOPEFULLY, GOC PEACE
COMMISSIONER CAMILO GOMEZ WILL REJECT ANY ATTEMPT BY THE
FARC TO INCLUDE SOME OF THESE INDIVIDUALS IN THE LAST
GROUP TO BE RELEASED. ALTHOUGH MOST COLOMBIANS REJOICED
OVER THE RELEASE OF THE POLICEMEN/SOLDIERS, AND HOPED FOR
MORE RELEASES, IT IS UNLIKELY THAT THIS ACT, IN AND OF
ITSELF, WILL RENEW GENERAL CONFIDENCE IN THE PEACE
PROCESS. THAT MAY ONLY COME IF THE FARC BEGINS SERIOUS
NEGOTIATIONS ON DOWNGRADING THE LEVEL OF VIOLENCE AND
COMMITS TO ABIDING BY INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW.


PATTERSON


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