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Viewing cable 06BOGOTA5603, POSSIBLE GOC-FARC TALKS: VIEW FROM THE COLOMBIAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BOGOTA5603 2006-06-21 22:10 2011-03-02 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
Appears in these articles:
http://www.elespectador.com/wikileaks
VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #5603/01 1722205
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 212205Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6223
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 7858
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN LIMA 3930
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 9277
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 4578
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC//USDP ADMIN/CHAIRS//
CO N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 005603 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/07/2016 
TAGS: PTER PGOV MARR CO
SUBJECT: POSSIBLE GOC-FARC TALKS: VIEW FROM THE COLOMBIAN 
LEFT 

REF: BOGOTA 4662 

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


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

1. (C)  Reftel outlined reasons why some mainly leftist 
interlocutors considered GOC-FARC peace talks possible in 
President Uribe's second term.  According to these contacts, 
the FARC's top demands are land reform, political 
reconstruction, and social welfare programs, along with a 
need for personal security and "respect" for the FARC's 
"struggle."  They said the GOC should continue military 
pressure and consider creative proposals to draw the FARC 
leadership into talks.  They also asserted U.S. engagement 
would be vital to a successful process.  End Summary. 

------------------- 
What the FARC Wants 
------------------- 

2. (C)  Former peace commissioner Daniel Garcia Pena said the 
FARC's priority is land reform.  Academic Fernando Cubides
added the FARC wanted to reverse appropriations by 
paramilitaries.  Demobilized FARC commander alias 'Nicolas' 
concurred, saying, "This is not about confiscation but about 
redistribution."  The guerillas' economic agenda has mellowed 
over time, according to President Pastrana's peace 
commissionerCamilo Gonzalez, from "a Stalinist to a Social 
Democratic platform."  Garcia Pena stressed that, "The FARC 
define themselves as Marxists but their agenda is not." 

3. (C)  The FARC's agenda would include social issues.  In a 
2006 communique, FARC leader Manuel Marulanda referred to 
FARC proposals at Caguan which the GOC did not address: 
unemployment subsidies, money for social work projects, and 
pilot programs for alternative crops to coca.  Cubides
emphasized welfare programs to alleviate underlying problems 
driving coca cultivation.  Ex-FARC commander 'Nicolas' spoke 
of the restructuring of wealth and social reinvestment, 
applying the FARC adage "social justice is the name of peace" 
to food, health, and jobs.  Policy analyst Ana Teresa Bernal 
recounted that at Caguan, "Marulanda said the most important 
thing was employment.... a jump-start plan not profound 
reforms.  Mostly the FARC wanted to show the population that 
their plans were of benefit." 

4. (C)  Politically the FARC wants "a reordering of the 
political-administrative map" (said Cubides) and "a 
government of national reconstruction" (said Garcia Pena). 
The consensus view was that a constitutional assembly would 
be essential to write any accord into law.  Gonzalez noted 
the FARC had no popular base and would demand a guaranteed 
bloc in such a forum (on the order of 10-15 percent).  Form 
is as important as substance, he said: "It would be a fiction 
but an important one."  Reparations Commission chair Eduardo 
Pizarro pragmatically agreed that an assembly is not a reform 
per se, only a framework for future changes.  It would 
satisfy what several speakers signaled as the FARC's vital 
need for recognition as political actors.  In Pizarro's more 
pointed phrasing, "The FARC will negotiate to save face. 
They need to justify forty years of war." 

------------------------- 
Policy: 'Push' and 'Pull' 
------------------------- 

5. (C)  Interlocutors recommended a combination of military 
pressure and policy incentives to both push and pull the FARC 
to the table.  Despite the overall leftward leaning of the 
group, none favored leniency; all agreed it was critical for 
the GOC to sustain military operations against the FARC until 
they agreed to negotiate.  Ironically it was ex-FARC 
commander 'Nicolas' who was most emphatic on this point: 
"Continued military pressure is essential...to show the FARC 
there is absolutely no possibility they can take power with 
military action." 

6. (C)  All said military pressure must go hand in hand with 
political, economic, and social incentives.  (Embassy 

MILGROUP says even COLMIL commanders echo the same 
sentiment.)  Gonzalez spoke at length on this theme, 
stressing the need to break out of conventional molds and 
explore "audacious ideas."  With respect to agrarian reform, 
for example, he commented positively on Marulanda'sCaguan
proposal that the GOC give the FARC lands to showcase 
agrarian reforms, however unrealistic it might sound.  For a 
political agenda, he urged a dedicated planning task force, 
on the same lines as MOD strategy teams. 

--------------------------------------------- -------- 
U.S. Role: Prestige, Mediation, and (Non-)Extradition
--------------------------------------------- -------- 

7. (C)  Marulanda'scommunique of January 2006 said, "The 
gringos play a part in the conflict, and any solution must 
pass through them."  Several commentators stressed the 
critical role of the U.S. in any peace process with the FARC. 
 A large part of this is related to prestige; according to 
Gonzalez, "The FARC would only negotiate with those they
consider powerful, such as the U.S.  Because they have a 
simplistic conception of the U.S. as their enemy, they would 
also respect it as an interlocutor.  This would be the FARC's 
biggest triumph." 

8. (C)  The U.S. role has practical ramifications, too, 
particularly regarding the FARC's desire for guarantees of 
personal security against the threat of extradition.  Pizarro 
advised that in coming months Washington's attitude should 
"move from stick to carrot, from tough to talking."  He 
(echoed by 'Nicolas') said the U.S. "big incentive" is 
extradition, and suggested U.S. mediation would be required 
before a deal was struck.  The presence of the international 
community at peace talks would lend to the proceedings the 
prestige the FARC leadership craves. 

--------------------------- 
How Might The FARC Respond? 
--------------------------- 

9. (C)  The FARC leadership is marked by a high degree of 
unity and unanimity, according to analysts, and would be 
unlikely to split into factions during talks.  Pizarro 
stressed its "enormous internal cohesion" and lack of 
infighting over decades.  Garcia seconded this, saying the 
Secretariat was "profoundly unified.... Decisions are by 

SIPDIS 
consensus."  Marulanda is said to have the last word; but his 
advanced age (around eighty) throws open the issue of 
succession.  Looking ahead, FARC behavior in peace talks is 
difficult to predict, because it would depend on the 
personalities in charge at the time. 

10. (C)  Garcia said FARC members of campesino origin (like 
Marulanda and military leader alias Mono Jojoy) tend to be 
most pragmatic, while those of urban origin and higher 
education (e.g., ideologue Alfonso Cano) are most radical and 
stubborn.  Unfortunately, Pizarro predicted leadership in a 
negotiation scenario would likely pass to the urban political 
types, while military chiefs would take a back seat. 
'Nicolas' summed up, "Mono was pragmatic only because he 
doesn't believe in negotiation; he's a man of action.  Cano 
would never negotiate, for the opposite reason, that he's too 
political.... Ivan Marquez would be disposed to peace.  He 
has said that after 40 years of fighting it's time to end it 
but without betraying Marxist principles.... The Army should 
get Cano and Mono, to allow Marquez to breathe and lead." 

------------------------------- 
Past Attempts: Lessons Learned? 
------------------------------- 

11.  (C)  Three sets of FARC talks have occurred in the last 
25 years, each failing for distinct reasons: 

- In 1983-6 at La Uribe, the FARC was more dogmatic than 
pragmatic, says former negotiator Camilo Gonzalez; its 
Marxist rhetoric has since mellowed. 

- In 1991 the FARC broke off brief talks at Caracas/Tlaxcala; 
Gonzalez cited excessive FARC demands for the failure, while 
ex-EPL leader Alvaro Villaraga added FARC "outrage" at 
parallel processes with other guerilla groups, heavy COLMIL 
strikes including on the FARC's high command, and post-Soviet 
communist disarray. 


- The last attempt, in 1999-2002 at Caguan, was merely a 
"pretense," said Gonzalez, with the FARC buying time to 
strengthen its forces and the GOC launching Plan Colombia. 
Analyst Alfredo Rangel said the GOC showed up with no plans: 
"The government did not make any proposals at Caguan; all 
proposals came from the FARC."  FARC leader Marulanda 
similarly attributed the 2002 collapse to GOC unpreparedness 
and its failure to offer anything concrete in return for 
demobilization. 

12. (C)  Historically the FARC has not negotiated in good 
faith.  Villaraga and ex-FARC commander alias 'Nicolas' 
insisted the FARC was serious about peace and political 
reform in 1983-1986, but academic Roman Ortiz said both were 
proven wrong by the FARC's 1982 Conference resolution to 
double its forces.  'Nicolas' confirmed that at the 2000 
plenum the FARC's leading ideologue Alfonso Cano proposed 
striking the oligarchy while its guard was down.  With regard 
to drugs, there is no evidence for the FARC's purported 
interest in eliminating trafficking (reftel).  The precedents 
suggest a wary attitude towards FARC intent, as well as an 
attitude of 'trust but verify' during any period of cease 
fire. 

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

13. (C)  The interlocutors cited above either honestly or 
dishonestly portray the FARC as serious about its political 
agenda and depict peace talks as a forum for setting national 
policies and programs.  Unquestionably the FARC is to some 
degree a captive of its political rhetoric, but we would 
expect FARC policy interests to take a back seat to the 
conditions and obligations of their demobilization in any 
eventual peace talks.  We also would expect the GOC to reject 
any discussions of national policy beyond the conditions of 
FARC re-insertion.  We do not believe that the FARC is so 
unified that no elements would seek a separate peace with the 
government, but we agree that if talks ever begin with the 
FARC as such, they will be able to maintain a consolidated 
negotiating position.  Finally, it was predictable that U.S. 
direct involvement would be sought.  We see no reason even to 
contemplate such a step. 
WOOD