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Viewing cable 06BOGOTA11330, A LOOK INSIDE THE ITAGUI-MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BOGOTA11330 2006-12-19 18:06 2011-02-20 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
VZCZCXYZ0005
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #1330/01 3531854
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 191854Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1446
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7323
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 8530
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC LIMA 4592
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 9834
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5250
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3817
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHOND/DIRONDCP WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 011330 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT ALSO FOR P-HEIDE BRONKE 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/19/2016 
TAGS: KJUS PGOV PINR PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: A LOOK INSIDE THE ITAGUI-MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood. 
Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1.  (C) Sergio Caramagna, Director of the OAS Mission to 
Support the Peace Process in Colombia (MAPP/OAS), told the 
Ambassador on December 15 he never imagined seeing the 
ex-paramilitary leaders "behind bars."  Caramagna described 
Itagui maximum-security prison as dark, crowded, and dank. 
Now more than ever, he said, "the GOC had the upper-hand on 
the former paramilitaries, who were even more vulnerable than 
before."  Caramagna said that since the ex-paramilitary 
leaders called off the peace process on December 6, the OAS, 
with the help of the Church and Antioquia's Peace Facilitator 
Commission, had met with them in an effort to preserve the 
process.  Caramagna said several ex-paras told him they were 
ready to tell the truth through the Justice and Peace Law, 
but needed better security guarantees from the GOC.  End 
summary. 
 
---------------------- 
Dynamics Within Itagui 
---------------------- 
 
2.  (C) MAPP/OAS Director Sergio Caramagna told the 
Ambassador on December 15 he never imagined seeing the 
ex-paramilitary leaders "behind bars."  The ex-paras always 
expected to be in a low-or medium-security prison, such as La 
Ceja.  Caramagna said the ex-paras felt betrayed by the 
President's decision to transfer them to Itagui since it 
undermined GOC peace process commitments.  Caramagna 
described maximum security Itagui prison as dark, crowded, 
and dank.  Now more than ever, he said, "the GOC has the 
upper-hand on the former paramilitaries, who are even more 
vulnerable than before." 
 
3.  (C) Caramagna said that of the 59 ex-paramilitary members 
transferred from La Ceja to Itagui, only 14 were major 
paramilitary leaders.  The rest were assistants or mid-level 
members.  The ex-paras were divided into two groups, with a 
moderate group led by Ramon Isaza and Salvatore Mancuso 
trying to preserve the peace process, and a larger, more 
radical group led by Ivan Roberto Duque (AKA "Ernesto Baez") 
and Carlos Mario Jimenez, (AKA "Macaco"), emphasizing the 
process was over. 
 
4.  (C) Caramagna said a majority of the ex-paras in Itagui 
were former mid-level members who served under Macaco in the 
Central Bolivar Bloc (BCB).  Macaco, who has more followers 
with him than the other para leaders in Itagui, has been able 
to intimidate other ex-paras and expand his influence over 
other inmates.  Caramagna heard Macaco was giving out 
promissory notes ("vales") that carried monetary value 
outside of Itagui to "trustworthy" inmates.  Caramanga was 
concerned that if Macaco were to stay in Itagui for more than 
six months, he would end up controlling the maximum-security 
prison from within. 
 
5.  (C) Caramagna said Salvatore Mancuso was alone and feared 
for his life and that of his family.  He said Mancuso acted 
strong around the other ex-paras, but when he met with him 
alone, Mancuso turned into "a scared little boy."  Caramagna 
said Mancuso was close to having a nervous breakdown; he 
wanted to confess all of his crimes, but was afraid to do so. 
 Mancuso had compared himself to former paramilitary leader 
Carlos Castano, who was killed by his colleagues when they 
suspected he was going to tell the truth about the group to 
the U.S.  Mancuso was concerned other ex-paras thought he 
planned to do the same.  A month before Castano was killed, 
some of his family members were murdered.  Caramagna said 
Mancuso told him several of his family members, including his 
child, had recently received threats. 
 
6.  (C) Caramagna said former paramilitary leader Diego 
Murillo (AKA "Don Berna") was trying to bring the two 
ex-paramilitary sides together to maintain unity, and OAS 
regional observers told Caramagna Don Berna's people in 
Medellin had received a holiday card from him telling them 
how important it was to continue to support the peace 
process.  Don Berna was also mediating between the 
ex-paramilitaries and other illegal armed group members 
(IAGs) held in Itagui.  Caramagna described a three-hour long 
meeting he had with Don Berna in his jail cell.  Don Berna 
was accompanied by former EPL leader Francisco Caraballo and 
ELN negotiator Juan Carlos Cuellar.  Caramagna described the 
meeting as "surreal," with the two far-left guerrillas and a 
far-right paramilitary giving their individual analysis of 
why the violence in Colombia has lasted so long.  Caramagna 
said, "They were talking in such harmony, it was simply 
amazing."  He added, "This is what two years of companionship 
in prison does." 
 
---------------------------------------- 
Door Half Open for Continued Peace Talks 
---------------------------------------- 
 
7.  (C) Caramagna noted that since the ex-paramilitary 
leaders called off the peace process on December 6, the OAS, 
with the help of the Catholic Church and Antioquia's Peace 
Facilitator Commission, had continued to meet them to try to 
revive the process.  The ex-paras claimed the GOC had failed 
to meet its commitments including: (1) incarceration in a 
low-or medium-security prison; (2) compliance with the 
Justice and Peace Law; and (3) an offer of political status 
for the ex-paramilitary leaders.  Caramagna told them the GOC 
was not the only side to break the agreement.  He had cited 
four instances where the paras had failed to keep their part 
of the bargain: (1) the killing of Carlos Castano; (2) the 
kidnapping of a cattle rancher in Cesar; (3) the killing of a 
departmental legislator; and (4) repeated breaches of the 
cease-fire.  He said the MAPP/OAS had not highlighted these 
incidents to prevent the peace process from collapsing. 
Caramagna added that several ex-paras had told him privately 
they were ready to tell the truth under the Justice and Peace 
Law, but needed better GOC security guarantees. 
WOOD 

=======================CABLE ENDS============================