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Viewing cable 06BOGOTA1145, GUARANTORS ASK ELN FOR CEASE-FIRE, HOSTAGE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BOGOTA1145 2006-02-07 21:09 2011-02-23 06:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #1145/01 0382101
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 072101Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2019
INFO RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN PRIORITY 1005
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 6542
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 7145
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ FEB 7671
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 3222
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 8808
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 0293
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 3828

RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA PRIORITY 0060
C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 001145 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/03/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PTER CO
SUBJECT: GUARANTORS ASK ELN FOR CEASE-FIRE, HOSTAGE 
RELEASE; PLAN TO EXPAND GUARANTOR GROUP, WANT U.S. CONTACT 

REF: BOGOTA 860 

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

------- 
Summary 

------- 

1.  (C) GOC-ELN civil society guarantor Moritz Akerman said 
the guarantors sent the ELN a proposal February 2 that would 
require the guerrillas to "suspend definitively" all 
kidnappings and release all hostages within 90 days.  In 
return, the proposal provides that the GOC would allow an ELN 
negotiating team freedom of movement in Colombia and perhaps 
overseas.  Akerman said he had planned to visit Caracas to 
present the proposal to ELN military commander Antonio 
Garcia, but Garcia asked him not to do so because Venezuelan 
President Chavez had asked Garcia to maintain a low profile 
in Caracas and an Akerman visit would have attracted media 
attention.  According to Akerman, the ELN wants to move the 
talks from Cuba for propaganda and financial reasons, as well 
as to avoid pressure from the Cuban intelligence services. 
The Cubans told the ELN that it should not conclude a deal 
with the GOC without FARC approval, Akerman reported.  The 
agenda for the February 17-28 session in Havana remains 
unclear, although the ELN might ask to travel to Norway, 
Switzerland, and Spain during this period.  Akerman said the 
Norwegians are considering financial support for the process 
but want to be sure the ELN is "irreversibly" committed to 
peace.  Akerman said the guarantor group would add at least 
four prominent Colombians to counter concerns it was too 
leftist.  He said the ELN wants to open a direct channel to 
the U.S.  End summary. 

--------------------------------------------- ------- 
GUARANTORS MAKE CEASE-FIRE AND HOSTAGE PROPOSAL TO ELN 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 

2.  (C) GOC-ELN civil society guarantor Moritz Akerman told 
D/Polcouns February 2 that the guarantors had delivered a 
cease-fire and hostage proposal to the ELN and would discuss 
it with ELN military commander Antonio Garcia beginning 
February 9 in Havana.  According to Akerman, the proposal 
would require the ELN to announce a "definitive suspension" 
of kidnappings and a commitment to release all ELN hostages 
within 90 days.  In return, the guarantors propose that the 
GOC allow the ELN to form a "negotiating commission" of about 
5 people, who would have the freedom to travel within
Colombia (and perhaps overseas) on peace process-related 
issues.  (Akerman was vague about whether the guarantors also 
gave the proposal to the GOC.)  Akerman said the ELN's 
reaction to the proposal would be a test of its sincerity. 
Akerman would not be concerned if the ELN countered with its 
own proposal, but would be disappointed if it rejected the 
proposal out of hand.  Akerman said his initial plan was to 
travel to Caracas on February 2 and present the proposal to 
Garcia personally, but Garcia told him not to do so because 
Hugo Chavez wants Garcia to maintain a low profile in 
Venezuela. 

--------------------------------------------- -- 
ELN ANXIOUS TO MOVE TALKS FROM CUBA, WANT MONEY 
--------------------------------------------- -- 

3.  (C) Akerman said the ELN wants to move the talks out of 
Cuba, in part for propaganda and financial reasons and in 
part because the Cuban intelligence services are putting 
pressure on the ELN not to conclude a deal with the GOC 
without FARC approval.  In Akerman's view, the ELN is 
interested in the publicity and money-raising possibilities 
that being in a European country might offer.  They want to 
explore the possibility of altering the ELN's EU designation 
as a terrorist organization.  Akerman said the ELN would be 
satisfied with an EU statement at the appropriate time -- 
following a cease-fire and hostage release -- that alluded to 
"beginning the process of reexamining" the terrorist 
designation rather than an outright reversal of the decision. 
Akerman confided that Garcia had expelled Ramiro Vargas from 
the ELN's negotiating team because Garcia learned that Vargas 
was informing the Cubans and the FARC of developments.  The 
Cubans told the ELN on more than one occasion it should not 
reach an agreement with the GOC without FARC approval. 

Akerman said Vargas' removal had elevated Francisco Galan to 
the second most important figure in the ELN team, a 
development that Akerman regarded as positive. 

4.  (C) According to Akerman, the Norwegians recently told 
the ELN they would consider financial support for the process 
only if they were convinced the ELN was "irreversibly" 
committed to peace, and the Norwegian Foreign Ministry's 
Acting Director General for Latin America, Herbeth Linder, 
recently visited Colombia and met with the ELN.  Linder and 
Peace Commissioner Restrepo's deputy Eduardo Herrera told 
polcouns the same thing a few days earlier (reftel).  Akerman
expects Norwegian officials to visit again in the near future 
to further discuss ELN financial requests.  Akerman said the 
ELN has three principal financial needs: monthly payments for 
up to 5,000 guerrillas (GOC estimates of ELN strength are 
well below this figure); a fund for ELN political activities; 
and subsidies for the ELN negotiating team's travel and other 
incidental expenses.  In Akerman's view, at some point the 
ELN's financial requirements have to be addressed.  He noted 
that demobilized paramilitaries have been assisted with 
government stipends, but only in the context of their 
demobilizations. 

---------------------------------------- 
TALKS RESUME FEBRUARY 17, AGENDA UNCLEAR 
---------------------------------------- 

5.  (C) Akerman said the talks resume in Havana February 17 
and are scheduled to last until February 28.  The ELN has 
been making some substantive proposals (e.g., on the roles of 
the accompanying countries) but the GOC has not responded. 
Akerman understands the GOC wants to secure a cease-fire 
before moving forward on a substantive agenda.  Akerman said 
he expects the ELN to request permission to travel during the 
February 17-28 session, to Norway to discuss financial 
issues, to Switzerland to address humanitarian and hostages 
concerns, and to Spain to address political matters. 

--------------------------------------- 
COMPOSITION OF GUARANTOR GROUP CHANGING 
--------------------------------------- 

6.  (C) Akerman said only four of the five guarantors would 
travel to Havana February 9; guarantor Daniel Garcia-Pena has 
dropped out of the group because he is running for political 
office in the March congressional elections.  (If Garcia-Pena 
loses, Akerman said, he might return as a guarantor.)  The 
guarantors are expanding from the original five to at least 
eight.  Akerman reported that four prominent Colombians have 
agreed to serve as guarantors but will not be incorporated 
immediately: former foreign minister Maria Emma Mejia; 
Director of El Colombiano newspaper Ana Mercedes Gomez; 
Father HoracioOrango; and industrialist Ricardo Correa.  All 
have accepted the guarantors' offer to join them (Father 
Orango is awaiting approval from Church authorities, while 
Maria Emma Mejia will travel to Havana February 9 as a 
"friend" of the process).  Akerman explained that there was a 
sense the guarantor group was too leftist, hence the effort 
to include other sectors of society.  He said the ELN's 
Francisco Galan is pleased to see the expansion, despite a 
private letter from guarantor Alejo Vargas to Antonio Garcia 
warning against the "bourgeois" and "elitist" nature of the 
newcomers.  According to Akerman, the ELN would like to see 
human rights activist Gloria Flores join the guarantors. 
Akerman said Flores is known to be very close to the ELN. 
For their part, the guarantors will not ask her to 
participate unless one of the four newcomers backs out, 
Akerman said. 

----------------------------------------- 
ELN INTERESTED IN OPENING CHANNEL TO U.S. 
----------------------------------------- 

7.  (C) Akerman reported that the ELN wants to open a direct 
channel to the U.S., perhaps by sending a letter to 
Ambassador Wood.  Antonio Garcia asked Akerman to help draft 
the letter, he said.  Akerman understands that the ELN would 
suggest in the letter areas of possible cooperation with the 
U.S. in the fight against narcotics trafficking.  (Gabriel 
Garcia Marquez, who has contact with the ELN, has sought a 
meeting with the Ambassador.) 
WOOD