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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06BOGOTA6865 2006-07-28 20:55:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
Cable title:  

CATHOLIC CHURCH, GUARANTORS SAY GOC-ELN TALKS

Tags:   PTER PGOV PREL MARR CO 
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DE RUEHBO #6865/01 2092055
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 282055Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7473
INFO RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN PRIORITY 1141
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7020
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 8019
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUL 8124
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 4083
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 9243
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 0325
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 4741
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA PRIORITY 0096
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 006865 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/26/2016
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL MARR CO
SUBJECT: CATHOLIC CHURCH, GUARANTORS SAY GOC-ELN TALKS
LOSING MOMENTUM

REF: BOGOTA 5496 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood
Reason: 1.4 (b,d)

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Summary
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1. (C) Secretary General of the Commission on National
Reconciliation, Father Dario Echeverri, and civil society
guarantors Moritz Akerman and Alvaro Jimenez said the GOC-ELN
exploratory talks were slowing down and would likely resume
in Havana in late September rather than on August 12 as
originally planned. They claimed FARC attacks on the ELN and
Cuban pressure were the principal factors explaining the
slower pace. Echeverri argued the ELN Central Command was
losing control of its troops, characterizing ELN troops in
the field as "materially and spiritually poor," and
suggesting they were increasingly turning to drug
trafficking. End summary.



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Church, Guarantors Say FARC, Cubans Slow Down GOC-ELN Talks


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2. (C) Echeverri told us on July 21 the GOC-ELN exploratory
talks had slowed down, principally because the ELN was
suffering from FARC attacks, especially in Arauca Department.
The FARC had threatened further attacks if the ELN discussed
disarmament or demobilization with the GOC. Echeverri said
ELN military commander and negotiator Antonio Garcia called
him recently from Venezuela to ask for Echeverri's personal
mediation efforts in Arauca. ELN negotiator Francisco Galan
wanted Echeverri to tell the FARC that the ELN wanted to
"resolve differences" with them. Echeverri said the Arauca
dispute was about drugs. Echeverri planned to take a bishop
and four priests from Arauca to meet with ELN negotiator
Francisco Galan at the Casa de Paz in Medellin. He said the
priests have relationships with FARC leaders in Arauca and
would be able to transmit or receive messages to or from the
FARC.



3. (C) On July 19, Akerman and Jimenez also highlighted ELN
fear of the FARC, adding that Cuban pressure on the ELN to
move slowly was also having an effect. Akerman said former
Cuban Ambassador to Colombia Tony Lopez met with Galan at the
Casa de Paz about two weeks ago. Akerman attended a lunch
with Galan and Lopez on the same day, at which Lopez
criticized Akerman for trying to move the exploratory talks
from Havana. Akerman emphasized that the Cubans had always
regarded it as a mistake for the ELN to move forward in the
absence of a FARC seat at the table.



4. (C) Akerman claimed Peace Commissioner Restrepo told
Galan the GOC remained unwilling to move from exploratory
talks with the ELN to addressing a substantive agenda,
"because we want to wait on the FARC." Akerman said the
guarantors were surprised at Restrepo's comments, which he
claimed persuaded some of the more forward-leaning ELN
Central Command (COCE) members to back off and accept a
slower pace. (The guarantors have previously said the COCE
favored early substantive talks with the goal of running ELN
candidates in the 2007 municipal elections.) Rather than
start the fourth round of talks on August 12 as planned,
Akerman said the slower pace and Cuban administrative
problems suggested the talks might not get underway until
late September, after the NAM Summit in Cuba.



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Concern that COCE Losing Control of Troops


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





5. (C) Echeverri (echoed by Akerman, and National
Conciliation Commission member Ernesto Borda) said the COCE
was losing control of its fighters in the field. Echeverri
argued that ELN fronts in Narino and Choco Departments worked
closely with the FARC on narcotics trafficking. In south
eastern Choco, he said, the ELN "takes orders from the FARC."
By contrast, the ELN and FARC "are at each other's throats"
in Arauca, largely because they failed to come to an
agreement on dividing drug spoils. Echeverri noted he had
recently visited ELN fronts in Norte de Santander Department

and was "shocked at their material and spiritual poverty."
The ELN rank and file had scruffy boots and wore stolen
Colombian army uniforms that still contained the Colombian
flag emblem and the name of the original owner. Echeverri
asked some ELN members why they did not show more pride in
their appearance and one replied, "ask the leaders about
spiritual or ideological views, we don't have any." In
Echeverri's view, the miserable conditions in which ELN
members live make them ripe recruits for the drug trade.



6. (C) Echeverri characterized an aggressive recent
statement by ELN leader Nicolas Rodriguez (aka Gabino) as
"not surprising" and said it reflected a strand of ELN
opinion opposed to talks with the GOC. Rodriguez said the
ELN had never uttered the word demobilization, far less had
considered laying down its arms. In Echeverri's view, the
fact that the statement was signed by Rodriguez and not by
the COCE signaled divisions within the ELN.



7. (C) Akerman highlighted a July 6 statement by the ELN
"comuneros del sur" front in Narino, which said drugs were
poison and should not be allowed to infect communities. He
suggested the statement was a response to COCE pressure on
the front to stop drug trafficking. Still, Akerman conceded
he had no evidence the ELN in Narino had stopped drug
trafficking. Akerman also passed on Galan's concern that
recently arrested ELN members had been interviewed by the FBI
regarding kidnapping cases. Akerman said Galan denied the
ELN had kidnapped Americans. Galan is worried that the U.S.
will seek to extradite leading ELN figures.



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Norwegians Said to be Interested


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





8. (C) Akerman reported the trip he took to Oslo in June
with Jimenez was successful and the Norwegians were mulling
over additional involvement. He said the Norwegian MFA's
Johan Vibe was skeptical of the ELN financial proposal
(reftel) but regarded Norwegian in-kind contributions (such
as boots and food) as possible, as long as the GOC agreed.
Akerman understood that Vibe would address further Norwegian
engagement with the ELN and GOC in the coming weeks.



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Comment


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9. (C) We are continuing to support the process with the
ELN. We are also hearing increased support for a go-slow
approach while the process with the paramilitaries,
especially the judicial part, remains a subject of debate, so
the ELN process does not weaken the government's approach to
the paras. Finally, we hear that the ELN would like to
accelerate the process so that it can play some role in the
fall 2007 local elections, something that would not be
possible if it received the same treatment as the
paramilitaries.
WOOD