2005-07-18 13:57:00
Embassy Bogota
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BOGOTA 006678 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/12/2015

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


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BOGOTA 006678


E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/12/2015

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


1. (C) Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo told the
Ambassador on July 11 that dismantlement, security, and
justice were key to the peace process's success. He said his
responsibility was to deliver AUC members, disarmed and
identified, to the justice system and that the Peace and
Justice Law would ensure justice. Restrepo was optimistic
for the first time ever that even the most militant AUC
commanders were serious about demobilizing and that the
entire AUC structure would be demobilized by the end 2005.
He acknowledged that the GOC was on the defensive in selling
the Law for Peace and Justice. He expressed concern that
implementing the justice provisions of the law before the
remaining AUC blocs were fully identified, disarmed, and
demobilized could jeopardize the peace process, but
emphasized that he would not impede justice in any way. The
Ambassador warned Restrepo that the GOC could not afford to
wait any longer to demonstrate its control over the AUC and
capacity to implement justice. Restrepo agreed to review
U.S. concerns with President Uribe. He said the GOC needed
an estimated 262 billion pesos (USD 114 million) to increase
police presence in former paramilitary-dominated areas and
hoped the U.S. could provide assistance, in particular for a
counternarcotics component. End summary.

Ordinary Justice Takes Precedent

2. (C) On July 11, Peace Commissioner Restrepo acknowledged
to the Ambassador that the GOC was on the defensive in
selling the Law for Justice and Peace. But he stressed that
the law clearly stated that the ordinary justice system takes
precedent and that the Justice and Peace Law was only the
exception under certain conditions. It only applied to
crimes an ex-terrorist admitted, and only if he fully
demobilized, cooperated with authorities, and turned over all
illicit assets. In the case of crimes not admitted, the case
must be heard by to ordinary justice. Benefits were only

possible if the court decreed that the omission was
unintentional and the ex-terrorist accepted guilt. Even so,
he would still receive a longer alternative sentence.
Restrepo also noted that there was nothing in the law to
prevent investigations on new evidence after the ex-terrorist
had already begun serving his alternative sentence, or at any
time thereafter. He expected victims to come forward once
AUC commanders were in jail because they would no longer fear
reprisal. The Ambassador urged Restrepo to explain this to
the public.

Restrepo: The End is in Sight

3. (C) Restrepo told the Ambassador that he was confident --
for the first time ever -- that the AUC would demobilize its
remaining blocs and criminal structures by the end of 2005.
He said his responsibility was to deliver the entire AUC,
fully identified and demobilized, to justice. After
sustained pressure from Restrepo, the Central Bolivar Bloc
(BCB) commanders and other hard-liners Ramon Isaza and "Jorge
40" had pledged to demobilize their blocs in two public
communiques. Once demobilized, these units, combined with
senior AUC commander Don Berna,s last two blocs, would mark
the end of the AUC.

4. (C) Restrepo explained that he had taken advantage of AUC
confusion over the Law for Justice and Peace and internal
leadership divisions to secure the commanders' commitment to
demobilize completely. AUC leadership and their lawyers
believed speculation from NGOs and opposition groups that the
law would allow for impunity. Restrepo was rushing to
demobilize the rest of the AUC before they realized that the
law would make them confess, put them in jail, and take away
all their illicit assets. Once the commanders had
demobilized their troops and were under government control,
they would have little choice but to submit to authorities.

5. (C) Restrepo expressed concern that implementing tougher
aspects of the law before the remaining active paramilitary
commanders and their blocs demobilized could make them
abandon the process. He said he needed until the end of the
year to dismantle the rest of the AUC. Nevertheless,
Restrepo emphasized that he would not impede or try to
influence the Colombian justice system in any way.

Ambassador: Demonstrate Justice

6. (C) The Ambassador acknowledged that Restrepo was in a
difficult position, but warned that the GOC had to
immediately demonstrate it would hold AUC members accountable
for their crimes, implement the law, and control the peace
process. In the face of accusations of impunity and being
soft on paramilitaries, the GOC could not afford to wait
until the rest of the demobilizations were complete. The
Ambassador suggested several options: (1) development of a
clear, publicly available procedure, with institutional
responsibilities, for each step of identification,
demobilization, renunciation, initial interview, separation
into "non-serious cases under law 782" and "serious cases
under the Peace and Justice law," investigation,
incarceration, judgment, and punishment, (2) acceleration of
judicial processing of the blocs already demobilizing and
about to demobilize, (3) issuance of an ultimatum with a date
certain for closure of Santa Fe de Ralito to force a decision
to demobilize or not on the paramilitary leaders, and/or (4)
enforcement of punishment and extradition of a few
"demonstration cases," including Don Berna, who had violated
the cease-fire in addition to his other crimes.

7. (C) The Ambassador emphasized that the GOC needed to
prevent AUC commanders and any other known serious criminals
from going free. These individuals needed to be put in
confinement and processing begun under the Justice and Peace
Law. Otherwise, critics would jump at the opportunity to
"prove" the GOC was allowing impunity. The Ambassador noted
he was not asking the government to identify every
paramilitary guilty of a major crime immediately upon
demobilization. He recognized that the Prosecutor General's
Office (Fiscalia) would need time to interrogate and
investigate demobilized paramilitaries who did not already
face charges, in order to determine if they needed to be
processed under the Justice and Peace Law or could be
pardoned under Law 782.

8. (C) Restrepo agreed the GOC's three top priorities for the
peace process were dismantlement, justice, and security. He
said he would review the issue from the U.S. point of view
with President Uribe and seek a solution.

Security in AUC Territory

9. (C) Restrepo was concerned that guerrilla groups and
narcotraffickers would move into former AUC territory. As a
result, his office, with input from the Ministry of Interior
and Justice, Defense Ministry, and others, had developed a
security plan that calls for the creation of police force of
10,000 and strengthened state presence. The police force
would have 8,000 troops specialized in intelligence,
investigation, judicial issues, counterguerrilla operations,
and community outreach and 2,000 specialized in
counternarcotics and asset forfeiture. Restrepo estimated
the GOC would need approximately 262 billion pesos (USD 114
million) in funding. Part of this could come from a "peace
tax." Restrepo expressed hope that the U.S. would be able to
provide assistance, especially for counternarcotics. The
Ambassador offered to back the idea of a peace tax, but
warned that additional funding, especially in the face of
skepticism about the Justice and Peace Law, would be