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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
01BOGOTA5539 2001-06-19 23:43:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
Cable title:  

FARC ANNOUNCE INTENTION TO RELEASE ADDITIONAL 250

Tags:   PHUM PTER PGOV PREL CO 
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O 192343Z JUN 01
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2130
INFO AMEMBASSY PANAMA 
AMEMBASSY CARACAS 
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 
AMEMBASSY LIMA 
USCINCSO MIAMI FL
AMEMBASSY HANOI 
DOJ WASHDC
NSC WASHDC
JOINT STAFF WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
DIRONDCP WASHDC
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 005539 

EMBASSY HANOI FOR PAUL BERG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 6/19/21
TAGS: PHUM PTER PGOV PREL CO
SUBJECT: FARC ANNOUNCE INTENTION TO RELEASE ADDITIONAL 250
SOLDIERS AND POLICEMEN/CONTINUE TO KIDNAP AND EXTORT

REF: BOGOTA 5460

1.(U) CLASSIFIED BY CDA BARBARA C. MOORE, REASONS 1.5 (B,D).



2. (C) ON JUNE 18, THE FARC RELEASED AN ADDITIONAL GROUP
OF COLOMBIAN SOLDIERS AND POLICEMEN, BRINGING THE TOTAL OF
RELEASED IN THE FIRST HUMANITARIAN EXCHANGE TO 55. GOC
PEACE COMMISSIONER CAMILO GOMEZ ADMITTED TO THE PRESS THAT
THE FARC HAD NOT ALLOWED THE ICRC TO GIVE MEDICAL EXAMS TO
THE CAPTURED SOLDIERS AND POLICEMEN, THUS VIOLATING A KEY
ASPECT OF THE HUMANITARIAN EXCHANGE AGREEMENT. INSTEAD,
THE FARC REPORTEDLY CONDUCTED THE MEDICAL EXAMS
THEMSELVES. THE PRESS REPORTS THAT THREE OF THE MOST
SERIOUSLY ILL POLICEMEN/SOLDIERS WERE NOT RELEASED (TWO
REPORTEDLY SUFFER FROM SERIOUS FORMS OF CANCER), WHILE
MANY OF THE RELEASED WERE IN GOOD HEALTH. GOC PEACE
NEGOTIATOR LUIS GUILLERMO GIRALDO (PROTECT) TOLD POLOFF ON
JUNE 19 THAT HE AND OTHERS IN THE GOC SUSPECT THAT THE
FARC IS KEEPING THE THREE SERIOUSLY ILL SOLDIERS/POLICEMEN
TO INCREASE PUBLIC PRESSURE ON THE GOC TO NEGOTIATE A
POLICEMEN/SOLDIERS FOR GUERRILLA SWAP, MUCH LIKE THEY HAD
TRIED TO DO WITH THE CASE OF GRAVELY ILL POLICE COL.
ACOSTA. GIRALDO AFFIRMED THAT THE FARC STRATEGY IS TO
CONVINCE THE GOC TO HAVE SIMULTANEOUS, PERMANENT SWAPS SO
AS TO (IN THEIR VIEW) RAISE THEIR INTERNATIONAL COMBATANT
STATUS.



3. (C) ON JUNE 19 THE FARC CENTRAL COMMAND ANNOUNCED THAT
THEY WILL UNILATERALLY LIBERATE AN ADDITIONAL 250 SOLDIERS
AND POLICEMEN ON JUNE 28, AND INVITED THE COLOMBIAN POLICE
AND ARMED FORCES TO BE PRESENT WHEN THE RELEASE TAKES
PLACE "AS A GESTURE OF SOLIDARITY." GIRALDO TOLD POLOFF
THAT THE FARC FEEL A SIMULTANEOUS, PERMANENT EXCHANGE
AGREEMENT WITH THE GOC WOULD BENEFIT THEM AND UNDERMINE
THE COLOMBIAN SECURITY FORCES IN THREE WAYS: ONE, SINCE
THE COLOMBIAN ARMED FORCES HIERARCHY HAS EXPRESSED
OPPOSITION TO AN EXCHANGE AGREEMENT PUBLICLY, A GOC
DECISION TO ACQUIESCE TO THE FARC ON THIS ISSUE WOULD
CREATE FURTHER CIVIL-MILITARY TENSIONS; SECONDLY, SOLDIERS
AND POLICEMEN WOULD BE MORE LIKELY TO SURRENDER IN THE
BATTLEFIELD RATHER THAN FIGHT IF THEY KNOW THEY WILL BE
SWAPPED QUICKLY, AND, THIRD, THE FARC WOULD BE ABLE TO
QUICKLY REPLENISH THEIR DEPLETED MID-LEVEL BATTLEFIELD
CADRES. GIRALDO ADDED THAT THE FARC HAS SHOWN NO INTEREST
IN MOVING FROM THE HUMANITARIAN EXCHANGE AGREEMENT TO A
DISCUSSION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW OR
NEGOTIATIONS TO DECREASE THE LEVEL OF VIOLENCE, MUCH LESS
A CEASE FIRE.



4. (C) SEPARATELY, ON JUNE 12 LIBERAL PARTY PRESIDENTIAL
CANDIDATE HORACIO SERPA AND LIBERAL PARTY PRESIDENT LUIS
GUILLERMO VELEZ TOLD POLOFFS THAT LIBERAL SENATOR LUIS
ELADIO PEREZ BONILLA HAD BEEN KIDNAPPED THREE DAYS EARLIER
IN NARINO DEPARTMENT, REPORTEDLY BY THE FARC. SINCE THAT
TIME, PEREZ'S KIDNAPPING HAS BEEN CONFIRMED, WITH ALL
INDICATIONS LEADING TO THE FARC. IN ADDITION, VELEZ
STATED ON JUNE 17 THAT HE HAS BEEN WARNED BY THE FARC THAT
HE MUST EITHER PAY A "WAR TAX" ("VACUNA") OR BE A
KIDNAPPING TARGET.

5.(C) COMMENT: DESPITE THE HOPES RAISED BY THE HUMANITARIAN
EXCHANGE AND POSSIBLE FOLLOW-UP UNILATERAL RELEASE OF
SOLDIERS AND POLICEMEN, THE FARC CONTINUE TO SHOW THAT
THEY ARE NOT YET INTERESTED IN DISCUSSING WITH THE GOC THE
KINDS OF ISSUES THAT WOULD GENUINELY REDUCE THE LEVEL OF
VIOLENCE OR MOVE TOWARDS EVENTUAL RESOLUTION OF THE
CONFLICT. INSTEAD, THEIR RECENT ACTIONS -- DISREGARD FOR
HUMANITARIAN EXCHANGE GROUND RULES, KIDNAPPING OF SEN.
PEREZ, AND THE AUDACIOUS THREAT AGAINST THE LIBERAL PARTY
PRESIDENT -- DEMONSTRATE A LEVEL OF ARROGANCE MOST
COLOMBIANS ARE ALL TOO USED TO.


MOORE


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