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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05BOGOTA10238
2005-11-01 14:16:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bogota
Cable title:  

MANCUSO OUT, NEW SPOKESPERSONS FOR DEMOBILIZED

Tags:   KJUS  PGOV  PREL  PTER  CO  AUC 
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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 02 BOGOTA 010238 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/01/2015
TAGS: KJUS PGOV PREL PTER CO AUC
SUBJECT: MANCUSO OUT, NEW SPOKESPERSONS FOR DEMOBILIZED
PARAMILITARIES IN

Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood.
Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d)

-------
SUMMARY
-------



1. (C) Representatives of 11 demobilized Colombian United
Self-Defense Groups (AUC) factions have removed Salvatore
Mancuso as AUC spokesperson and replaced him with three
leaders: Diego Murillo, AKA "Don Berna," Antonio Lopez, and
Eduard Cobos, AKA "Diego Vecino." The AUC replaced Mancuso
because they claim his personal concerns about possible
extradition were affecting his advocacy of AUC interests.
The new AUC spokespersons, however, are not necessarily more
willing or able to represent all demobilized paramilitaries'
interests. Tensions between demobilized and active AUC
leaders make the challenge inherently difficult. End Summary.



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MANCUSO ON HIS OWN


--------------------------





2. (C) AUC leader Mancuso's personal concern with his
possible extradition has led to his removal as recognized
spokesperson for the demobilized paramilitaries. According
to well-respected RCN journalist Alfredo Bustillo, who has
covered the paramilitary phenomenon for several years,
Mancuso's ouster should not come as a surprise since he has
slowly been removing himself from the negotiation process
with the GOC and become more focused on his personal future.
Senator Carlos Moreno de Caro's mid-October interview in El
Tiempo newspaper discussed Mancuso's interest in serving part
of his sentence in the U.S. or Spain -- a move that confirmed
the fears of demobilized paramilitaries that he no longer
served the interest of the organization. Nevertheless,
Bustillo explained that, despite the resentment some AUC
leaders and members harbor against Mancuso, he was unlikely
to suffer the same fate as AUC leader Carlos Castano (Castano
is rumored to have been killed by AUC members in April 2004),
and he still has significant clout over the peace process.



--------------------------


NEW AUC SPOKEPERSONS NOT SO REPRESENTATIVE


--------------------------





3. (C) Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo told the
Ambassador that the new three -- Diego Murillo, AKA "Don
Berna," Antonio Lopez, and Eduard Cobos, AKA "Diego Vecino"
-- were unlikely to last since they did not fully represent
the interest of all demobilized paramilitaries.

-- Diego Murillo, AKA &Don Berna8: Don Berna was commander
of the Cacique Nutibara Bloc (BCN), which demobilized in
Medellin in November 2003. According to Bustillo, his drug
trafficking wealth has given him significant power within the
AUC. Bustillo considers this Don Berna's latest effort to
increase his control over the remainder of the AUC and to
strengthen the AUC's negotiating stance against extradition.

-- Antonio Lopez of the Cacique Nutibara Bloc: According to
researcher Juan Carlos Garzon at the independent,
well-respected security think tank, Security and Democracy
Foundation (FSD), Lopez is close to Don Berna and has always
played a behind-the-scenes leadership role in the Medellin's
BCN. In recent years, his leadership role in Medellin's
neighborhoods has increased and he has recently being chosen
to lead the Cooperation for Democracy Center in Medellin,
which works with over 1,500 demobilized paramilitaries.
Lopez is described by many as intelligent, but with limited
freedom of action under Don Berna.

-- Eduard Cobos, AKA "Diego Vecino": Vecino was commander of
the Heroes of Montes of Maria Bloc, which demobilized in
Bolivar Department in July 2005. Garzon describes Vecino as
more a Mancuso supporter since his Montes de Maria Bloc fell
under the overall leadership of Mancuso. He is politically
influential in Bolivar Department. The FARC kidnapped him
twice; once he escaped, the second time his family paid the
ransom. Bustillo said that Vecino is concerned with being
extradited and wants to fight to remove extradition as
negotiations proceed. Vecino is also concerned with charges
he may face for &unpardonable8 crimes for his alleged role
in the San Onofre massacre in Sucre Department (San Onofre is
the site where authorities have found a significant number of
bodies; specific dates of the murders involved are unclear).



--------------------------


DIVISIONS BETWEEN AUC LEADERS


--------------------------





4. (C) Tensions between demobilized and active AUC leaders
highlight the inherently difficult challenge of representing
a large group of paramilitaries with different interests.
Bustillo claims that North Bloc leader Rodrigo Tovar Pupo,
AKA "Jorge 40," whose group has yet to demobilize, is not in
favor of Don Berna's control over the organization and argues
that Don Berna only represents his own interest rather than
the organization's views. Bustillo explains that it is in
the interest of Don Berna and his supporters for the peace
process to continue and guarantee a complete demobilization
of the AUC and the implementation of the Justice and Peace
law. On the other hand, according to Bustillo, Jorge 40 and
Central Bolivar Bloc leader, Lorenzo Gonzalez, AKA "Macaco,"
are in no rush to demobilize and willing to delay the process
indefinitely.
WOOD