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Viewing cable 06BOGOTA2554, FARC DEMOBILIZATION OF 70: LANDMARK EVENT OR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BOGOTA2554 2006-03-22 19:07 2011-02-24 06:06 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Bogota
Appears in these articles:
http://www.elespectador.com/wikileaks
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #2554/01 0811948
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221948Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3387
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 6672
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 7419
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR 7847
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 3446
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 4096
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
id: 57696
date: 3/22/2006 19:48
refid: 06BOGOTA2554
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: UNCLASSIFIED
destination: 
header:
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #2554/01 0811948
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221948Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3387
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 6672
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 7419
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR 7847
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 3446
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 4096
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY

----------------- header ends ----------------

UNCLAS BOGOTA 002554 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PTER PGOV MOPS MARR CO
SUBJECT: FARC DEMOBILIZATION OF 70: LANDMARK EVENT OR 
TELENOVELA?


------- 
Summary 
------- 

1. On March 7 the GOC announced the demobilization of 70 FARC 
guerillas and an airplane. As the largest FARC defection in 
Colombia,s 40-year conflict, symbolically occurring in the 
insurgency's birthplace, the event was initially hailed as 
historic. However, within days questions emerged which remain 
unanswered about the veracity of the demobilization.  End 
Summary.

--------------------------------- 
GOC Announces FARC Demobilization 
--------------------------------- 

2. On March 7, Peace Commissioner Restrepo and Army Commander 
General Montoya presided over the demobilization of 70 FARC 
guerillas said to be of the Cacica la Gaitana company of the 
FARC,s Joint Central Command in Tolima. This was seen as a 
core FARC unit located near where the insurgency was founded 
and said to have regular contact with the ideological leader 
and Secretariat member Alfonso Cano. Early reports stated 
that, along with their weapons, the guerillas surrendered a 
plane which had been acquired for use in their erstwhile 
demilitarized zone (despeje). Later in the day, Polcouns
crossed paths with Restrepo at the Ministry of Defense. 
Restrepo was warmly congratulated by senior military 
officials passing by. 

---------------------- 
Repudiation and Regret 
---------------------- 

3. In a communique presented at the demobilization ceremony, 
the unit's political commander, alias "Biofilo," repudiated 
the conflict, which he said had exhausted his country and 
converted it into a vast cemetery. His unit was laying down 
its arms, he said, in regard for thousands of innocent 
victims of "doubtful interests and wretched practices." 
Biofilo stated that the unit renounced war but not its
Leninist and Bolivarian principles. The war, he said, had 
degraded those founding goals and diminished the rebels as 
human beings. Detailing cases of FARC atrocities against 
civilians, including some ostensibly attributed to the army, 
he rebuked the FARC for exercising only coercive power and no 
constructive influence over the territories it has dominated, 
alienating itself from the very population it had set out to 
defend. Biofilo closed by expressing his support for the 
peace negotiations recently entered into by the Marxist 
guerilla organization the ELN. 

--------------------- 
Questions Surface.... 
--------------------- 

4. Inaccurate statements made by the Army subsequently cast 
doubt on the event. First, it emerged that the unit,s
leader, alias Saldana, had been a prisoner in state custody 
for two years, and FARC sources pointed to another man, alias 
Marlon (still at large), as the unit,s true commander. The 
Army admitted these facts but stressed that Saldana was a 
leader who convinced the others to surrender. Second, it was 
revealed that the plane had been in government custody since 
2003. Saldana claimed, however, that the plane did belong to 
his company and had been intended for use on an assault on 
Bogota. President Uribe, who had highlighted the original 
plane story to the press, was obliged to issue a retraction. 

-------------------- 
.... and Doubt Grows 
-------------------- 

5. As journalists probed further into the story, further 
contradictions emerged. It was revealed that Saldana was a 
FARC deserter who was captured and imprisoned in 2004. To 
shorten his sentence, he contacted Restrepo offering to turn 
informer and bring in his comrades. His men claim to belong 
to a unit which they say was created (conveniently) near the 
time of Saldana's offer. The existence of the Gaitana unit 
not only has been denied by the FARC, but also is not 
recognized by the Colombian police, the Departmental 
government, or even the Army's own records of the FARC. A 
journalist visiting the demobilized in detention reported 
that some seemed to be genuine guerillas, others hangers-on. 
Conflicting versions of the unit's area of operation planted 

the notion that this could be a hodgepodge of deserters 
assembled into a unit for the purpose of demobilization. At 
the event, the men wore clean new uniforms and appeared 
fresh, while claiming to have hiked long distances to arrive 
at the site. 

------- 
Comment 
------- 

6. Despite all of the holes in the official story, discontent 
in FARC ranks could in truth be growing. Due to the confusion 
over details, however, the significance of the event remains 
unclear. 
WOOD