US embassy cable - 00BOGOTA3734

FARC INAUGURATES CLANDESTINE POLITICAL PARTY

Identifier: 00BOGOTA3734
Wikileaks: View 00BOGOTA3734 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Bogota
Created: 2000-05-03 21:26:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PINS PTER MASS PINR PHUM CO
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 032126Z MAY 00
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4799
INFO NSC WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
JCS WASHDC
DIA WASHDC
CIA WASHDC
DIRONDCP WASHDC
AMEMBASSY PANAMA 
AMEMBASSY CARACAS 
AMEMBASSY QUITO 
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 
AMEMBASSY LIMA 
USINT HAVANA 
USCINCSO MIAMI FL//SCJ2/SCJ5/POLAD//
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 003734 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 4/26/10 
TAGS:  PINS, PTER, MASS, PINR, PHUM, CO 
SUBJECT: FARC INAUGURATES CLANDESTINE POLITICAL PARTY 
 
REFS: A) BOGOTA 3560  B) BOGOTA 3610 
 
CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR CURTIS W. KAMMAN, REASON 1.5(B). 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
1. (C) AMIDST GREAT FANFARE AND TENS OF THOUSANDS OF 
ONLOOKERS, THE FARC ANNOUNCED APRIL 29 ITS "CLANDESTINE 
POLITICAL PARTY," THE "BOLIVARIAN MOVEMENT."  FARC CHIEF 
MARULANDA SAID THE CLANDESTINE CHARACTER OF THE PARTY WAS 
INTENDED TO PROTECT ITS MEMBERS FROM A SYSTEMATIC MURDER 
CAMPAIGN SUCH AS THAT WHICH BEFELL THE U.P. IN THE 
1980'S.  ALL WHO SHARE THE FARC'S THINKING, WHETHER OR 
NOT THEY APPROVE OF ITS ARMED STRUGGLE, ARE WELCOME TO 
JOIN, SAID PARTY DIRECTOR AND FARC SECRETARIAT MEMBER 
ALFONSO CANO.  THE PARTY'S PLATFORM IS RURAL 
POPULIST/COMMUNIST.  THE INAUGURATION OF THE PARTY MAY BE 
INTENDED TO GATHER POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR THE UNPOPULAR 
GUERRILLA MOVEMENT; COULD BE PART OF AN EFFORT TO 
INSTITUTIONALIZE FARC CONTROL OF AREAS UNDER ITS 
INFLUENCE; OR MAY BE A DIVERSION TO UNDERMINE SUPPORT FOR 
THE MILITARY COMPONENT OF PLAN COLOMBIA.  AT ABOUT THE 
SAME TIME CANO INAUGURATED THE PARTY, FARC MILITARY 
COMMANDER BRICENO REPORTEDLY ORDERED HIS TROOPS TO STEP 
UP WAR ACTIONS.  END SUMMARY. 
 
 
MARULANDA ANNOUNCES COMMUNIST, CLANDESTINE PARTY 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
2.  (U) ACCORDING TO PRESS REPORTS, THE FARC TRUCKED IN 
TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE FROM AROUND PUTUMAYO, 
CAQUETA, AND HUILA DEPARTMENTS TO WITNESS THE APRIL 29 
INAUGURATION OF ITS POLITICAL PARTY, THE BOLIVARIAN 
MOVEMENT ("MOVIMIENTO BOLIVARIANO"), AT SAN VICENTE DEL 
CAGUAN, IN ITS DESPEJE (DEMILITARIZED ZONE).  A PARADE OF 
FARC COMBATANTS, THE LAUNCHING OF 50,000 BALLOONS, A 
BARBECUE OF 400 HEAD OF CATTLE, AND A "VALLENATO" MUSIC 
CONCERT ROUNDED OUT THE DAY'S ACTIVITIES.  BEFORE AN 
ENTHUSIASTIC, ASSAULT RIFLE-TOTING CROWD OF THOUSANDS, 
FARC LEADER MANUEL MARULANDA ("TIROFIJO") ANNOUNCED THAT 
THE PARTY WOULD, FOR THE TIME BEING, REMAIN CLANDESTINE. 
SPEAKING BEFORE A LARGE, PUBLIC CROWD, MARULANDA SAID THE 
ANONYMITY OF THE MOVEMENT'S MEMBERS WAS NECESSARY TO 
AVOID THE FATE OF THE "UNION PATRIOTICA."  (NOTE: 2,000 - 
3,000 MEMBERS OF THE PATRIOTIC UNION, A LEGAL, LEFTIST 
POLITICAL PARTY PRINCIPALLY CONSTITUTED BY THE FARC AND 
THE COLOMBIAN COMMUNIST PARTY, WERE MURDERED IN THE MID- 
AND LATE-1980'S.  AS A SURVIVAL TACTIC, THE UP FORMALLY 
SEVERED ITS LINKS TO THE FARC IN THE LATE 1980'S.  MUCH 
DEBILITATED, IT STILL EXISTS TODAY.  END NOTE.) 
 
 
CANO PRESENTS PARTY PLATFORM 
---------------------------- 
3.  (C) MARULANDA INTRODUCED FARC SECRETARIAT MEMBER 
ALFONSO CANO AS THE PARTY'S DIRECTOR.  (NOTE: CANO IS THE 
FARC'S PREMIER POLITICO, AND RECENTLY HAS HAD LITTLE 
INVOLVEMENT IN EITHER THE PEACE PROCESS OR THE FARC'S 
MILITARY OFFENSIVES.  HE WAS THE FARC'S CHIEF NEGOTIATOR 
FOR THE UNSUCCESSFUL PEACE TALKS WITH THE GAVIRIA 
GOVERNMENT, 1990-1993.  END NOTE.)  CANO SAID THE PARTY 
ASPIRED TO NATIONAL POLITICAL POWER, AND THAT SOME OF ITS 
MEMBERS WOULD COMPETE CLANDESTINELY IN THE OCTOBER 
MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS.  THE PARTY WOULD PROVIDE "AN 
ALTERNATIVE TO COLOMBIA'S CORRUPT, TRADITIONAL POLITICAL 
ELITES, AND WOULD BE OPEN TO ALL PERSONS WHO IDENTIFY 
WITH THE FARC'S THINKING, IF NOT WITH ITS ARMED STRUGGLE 
. . .  AND WHO ARE NOT ENEMIES OF THE STATE (I.E., 
PARAMILITARIES, CORRUPT POLITICIANS)." 
 
4.  (U) CANO OUTLINED A RURAL POPULIST/COMMUNIST 
PLATFORM, WHICH FOCUSSED ON EXTENDING BASIC SERVICES TO 
RURAL AREAS.  HE PROPOSED STRONG STATE INTERVENTION IN 
THE ECONOMY, AGRARIAN REFORM, AND AN AUTARKIC ECONOMY 
WHICH WOULD REMAIN CLOSED TO "THE EMPIRE" (I.E., THE 
UNITED STATES).  CANO CALLED FOR SPECIAL RECOGNITION AND 
TREATMENT OF BLACK AND INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES.  HE 
CHARACTERIZED THE PARTY AS THE MANIFESTATION OF THE 
FARC'S PREFERENCE FOR POLITICAL, RATHER THAN ARMED, 
STRUGGLE.  HOWEVER, SHOULD THE USG AND THE GOC CONTINUE 
CURRENT POLICIES, CANO SAID THE FARC WOULD BE LEFT NO 
CHOICE BUT TO GIVE PRIORITY TO ARMED STRUGGLE. 
 
 
NOT A NEW INITIATIVE 
-------------------- 
5.  (U) CANO SAID THE FARC FOUNDED THE BOLIVARIAN 
MOVEMENT IN 1996, WHEN IT BEGAN FORMING CELLS IN HIGH 
SCHOOLS, UNIVERSITIES, FACTORIES AND ELSEWHERE.  THE 
ELECTION OF THE PARTY'S GOVERNING BOARD, THE "BOLIVARIAN 
PATRIOTIC COUNCIL, COMPOSED OF 100 WELL-KNOWN 
COLOMBIANS," WOULD SOON FOLLOW.  (NOTE: THE FARC HAS 
PUBLICLY ANNOUNCED THE EXISTENCE OF THE BOLIVARIAN 
MOVEMENT ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS, BUT NEVER WITH SO MUCH 
FANFARE.  THE MOVEMENT HAS ALTERNATIVELY BEEN DESCRIBED 
AS AN "INTELLECTUAL CADRE" FOR THE FARC.  ITS FORMATION 
WAS FIRST CALLED FOR AT THE FARC'S EIGHTH PLENARY 
CONGRESS IN 1993.  COLOMBIAN LAW PROSCRIBES MEMBERSHIP IN 
THE FARC AND SEVERAL OTHER ORGANIZATIONS; THE LEGALITY OF 
MEMBERSHIP IN THE BOLIVARIAN MOVEMENT IS SO FAR UNCLEAR. 
END NOTE.) 
 
 
(C) DID THE NINTH PLENARY OCCUR? 
-------------------------------- 
6.  (C) THE LAUNCHING OF THE BOLIVARIAN MOVEMENT MAY NOT 
HAVE BEEN THE ONLY BIG FARC GATHERING IN THE DESPEJE IN 
RECENT WEEKS: THE FARC'S NINTH PLENARY MEETING WAS 
SCHEDULED FOR MARCH OR APRIL 2000.  AT THESE RARE, MAJOR 
GATHERINGS OF FARC FRONT COMMANDERS, PLANS AND POLICIES 
FOR THE NEXT SEVERAL YEARS ARE SET.  HOWEVER, EMBASSY HAS 
BEEN UNABLE TO CONFIRM WHETHER THE NINTH PLENARY 
MEETING IN FACT OCCURRED. 
 
 
WHILE CANO TALKS POLITICS, JOJOY TALKS WAR 
------------------------------------------ 
7.  (U) BOGOTA PRESS PUBLISHED APRIL 29 A RADIO ADDRESS 
BY FARC MILITARY LEADER JORGE BRICENO (AKA, "MONO JOJOY") 
TO HIS TROOPS.  THE ADDRESS WAS REPORTEDLY INTERCEPTED BY 
ARMY INTELLIGENCE.  BRICENO SAID, "THIS IS OUR BASIC 
TENET: WE MUST ATTACK, KIDNAP, FLAY; THAT IS, STRIP THE 
ENEMIES OF THE REVOLUTION OF THEIR MONEY."  HE CALLED FOR 
USING THE RESPITE PROVIDED BY THE PEACE TALKS TO DOUBLE 
THE NUMBER OF FARC COMBATANTS, "FROM 16,000 TO 32,000." 
HE CALLED ON FARC MEMBERS TO CONTINUE THE FIGHT: "SOME OF 
OUR PEOPLE WILL DO SO IN KEEPING WITH THE CONSTITUTION BY 
ACTING IN AN OPEN FASHION AND OTHERS WILL WORK ON THE 
FRINGES OF THE LAW BY USING WEAPONS."  REGARDING THE 
BOLIVARIAN MOVEMENT, BRICENO REPORTEDLY SAID IT WOULD BE 
WELCOMED "SO LONG AS THEY CONSTRUCT A PARTY FOR WAR." 
REGARDING THE OCTOBER ELECTIONS, BRICENO SAID, "BALLOT 
BOXES MUST BE BURNED AND EVERYTHING DESTROYED . . .  AND 
WHEN THE GOVERNMENT POLITICIANS COME, WHETHER LIBERAL OR 
CONSERVATIVE, WE WILL TAKE THEM PRISONER."  WHEN 
CONFRONTED BY A JOURNALIST WITH BRICENO'S UNTIMELY 
REMARKS, CANO SAID HE WAS UNFAMILIAR WITH THEM, AND 
ATTRIBUTED THEM TO ARMY DISINFORMATION. 
 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
8.  (C) BY FORMALLY LAUNCHING THE BOLIVARIAN MOVEMENT, 
THE FARC IS MAKING ITS FIRST FORAY INTO PARTY POLITICS IN 
15 YEARS.  THE CLANDESTINE CHARACTER OF THE PARTY IS, AS 
MARULANDA SAID, A REACTION TO THE 1980'S MURDERS OF UP 
MEMBERS.  SO WHY THIS, AND WHY NOW?  DOUBTLESS, THE FARC 
IS TRYING TO STEAL BACK THE SPOTLIGHT FROM THE ELN, WHICH 
HAS BEEN THE FOCUS OF MUCH ATTENTION LATELY (REF A). 
GIVEN THE CONGRESSIONAL CRISIS AND WIDESPREAD 
DISENCHANTMENT WITH TRADITIONAL PARTIES, THE TIME SEEMS 
RIPE TO LAUNCH (OR RE-LAUNCH) A POLITICAL PARTY -- FORMER 
BOGOTA MAYOR ANTANAS MOCKUS JUST DID IT, AND SO DID THE 
LABOR UNIONS.  THE FARC KNOWS LACK OF REAL POLITICAL 
SUPPORT IS ITS ACHILLES' HEEL, AND IS TRYING TO RECRUIT 
SOME.  ALSO, SEVERAL DEVELOPMENTS -- THE FARC'S RECENT 
ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEW "TAXES" NATIONWIDE AND A SEPARATE, 
REVOLUTIONARY JUSTICE SYSTEM FOR THE DESPEJE, AS WELL AS 
THE INAUGURATION OF THE BOLIVARIAN MOVEMENT -- LEAD US TO 
BELIEVE THE FARC IS TRYING TO INSTITUTIONALIZE CONTROL 
OVER THE MUNICIPALITIES UNDER ITS SWAY.  FINALLY, THE 
FARC FEARS USG MILITARY ASSISTANCE TO THE GOC.  BY 
ENGAGING IN CEASE-FIRE TALKS (BEGUN APRIL 27, REF B) AND 
SUPPOSEDLY PURSUING POWER VIA ITS NEW POLITICAL PARTY, 
THE FARC MAY BE TRYING TO UNDERMINE POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR 
THE MILITARY COMPONENT OF PLAN COLOMBIA. 
 
KAMMAN 
 
 
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