US embassy cable - 02BOGOTA3281 (original version)

DETAILS ON FARC CAMPS IN VENEZUELA (original version)

Identifier: 02BOGOTA3281
Wikileaks: View 02BOGOTA3281 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Bogota
Created: 2002-04-11 20:44:00
Classification: SECRET
Tags: PREL PTER MOPS VE CO
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
P 112044Z APR 02
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8035
INFO NSC WASHDC
JOINT STAFF WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
DIRONDCP WASHDC
AMEMBASSY CARACAS 
AMEMBASSY PANAMA 
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 
AMEMBASSY QUITO 
AMEMBASSY LIMA 
USCINCSO MIAMI FL
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 003281 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 4/4/2012 
TAGS: PREL, PTER, MOPS, VE, CO 
SUBJECT: DETAILS ON FARC CAMPS IN VENEZUELA 
 
NOFORN 
 
REF: BOGOTA 3101 
 
CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR ANNE W. PATTERSON.  REASON: 1.5 
(B) AND (D) 
 
1. (S/NF) SUMMARY: COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT, MILITARY AND 
CIVILIAN INTERLOCUTORS UNEQUIVOCALLY CONFIRM THE 
EXISTENCE OF FARC CAMPS IN VENEZUELA (REFTEL). EMBASSY 
INTERLOCUTORS IN THE GOC FEEL THE VENEZUELAN MILITARY HAS 
BEEN ACTIVELY ORDERED AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS TO TURN A 
BLIND EYE TO FARC AND ELN CAMPS.  A RELIABLE SOURCE GAVE 
POLOFF DESCRIPTIONS AND COORDINATES FOR CAMPS IN 
VENEZUELA. THE GOC, FOR THE TIME BEING, IS PROBABLY 
CONTENT TO LET THE ISSUE PLAY OUT IN THE PRESS AND WAIT 
TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS TO CHAVEZ.  THE COLMIL, HOWEVER, WILL 
MOST LIKELY CONTINUE TO SPEAK OUT. END SUMMARY 
 
2. (C) SEVERAL SOURCES, INCLUDING A COLMIL HELICOPTER 
PILOT (REFTEL), THE ACTING FOREIGN MINISTER, AND A 
REPORTER FOR EL TIEMPO, COLOMBIA'S LEADING DAILY, HAVE 
GIVEN REPORTS ON HOW TO ARRIVE AT FARC CAMPS IN 
VENEZUELA.  THE ACTING FOREIGN MINISTER GAVE POLCOUNS A 
MAP WITH THE SITE OF ONE FARC CAMP APPROXIMATELY 1.2 
MILES INTO VENEZUELAN TERRITORY HIGHLIGHTED (8-45-10N,72- 
40-15W). NOTE: POST WILL PROVIDE A COPY TO WHA/AND. END 
NOTE. 
 
3. (C) DIRECTIONS WERE GIVEN TO EMBOFF BY A REPORTER FROM 
EL TIEMPO INDICATING THAT SHE DROVE FOR 35 MINUTES AFTER 
ENTERING VENEZUELA TO GET TO ONE OF THE CAMPS AND FOR 20 
MINUTES TO GET TO THE OTHER.  THE CAMPS SHE VISITED WERE 
ACROSS THE BORDER FROM TIBU, NORTE DE SANTANDER. 
 
4. (S/NF) SEPARATELY, A VERY RELIABLE COLOMBIAN SOURCE 
GAVE EMBOFF THE COORDINATES AND DESCRIPTIONS OF SEVERAL 
FARC CAMPS IN VENEZUELA.  THE SOURCE SAID THESE CAMPS 
REPRESENTED "THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG," BUT WERE INDICATIVE 
OF THE LEVEL TO WHICH THE FARC HAS SET UP OPERATIONS IN 
VENEZUELA.  HE ELABORATED THAT IT IS AN OPEN SECRET FOR 
THE VENEZUELANS THAT THESE CAMPS EXIST.  A CAMP IN THE 
AREA FROM WHICH THE ATTACK ON CARRENO'S TROOPS PROBABLY 
CAME IS LOCATED IN VENEZUELA DIRECTLY OPPOSITE FROM A 
COLOMBIAN AIRSTRIP.  THE LOCATION OF THE CAMP IS 09-08- 
18N, 072-50-54W.  THE CAMP IS REPORTEDLY CAPABLE OF 
HOUSING BETWEEN 100-120 FARC GUERRILLAS.  ANOTHER CAMP 
ABOUT ONE KILOMETER INTO VENEZUELAN TERRITORY IS LOCATED 
ON THE SOCUAVO DEL SUR RIVER (0859N, 07233W). 
 
5. (S/NF) THE SOURCE ALSO GAVE INFORMATION ABOUT A CAMP 
LOCATED ON THE CATATUMBO RIVER ACROSS FROM NORTE DE 
SANTANDER DEPARTMENT NORTH OF THE CITY OF CUCUTA (9-21N, 
072-44W) IN WHICH ABOUT 120 FARC GUERRILLAS WERE COUNTED 
IN LATE FEBRUARY.  ANOTHER CAMP HAS ALSO BEEN IDENTIFIED 
ACROSS THE BORDER FROM RIO DE ORO (08-37N, 072-39W). 
ANOTHER CAMP LOCATED NEAR SAN SIMON DE CUCUY (01168N, 
066509W) HAS A GRASS AIRSTRIP.  YET ANOTHER CAMP WHICH 
APPEARS TO BE A TRAINING FACILITY IS LOCATED IN THE AREA 
OF GUASDUALITO, APURE DEPARTMENT, VENEZUELA (07-15N, 70- 
44W).  UNIDENTIFIED FOREIGN ADVISORS HAVE REPORTEDLY BEEN 
SEEN IN THIS CAMP. 
 
6. (C) SINCE CHAVEZ CAME TO POWER, THE GOV HAS BROKEN OFF 
SEVERAL LONGSTANDING GOVERNMENT TO GOVERNMENT CONTACTS, 
INCLUDING MILITARY TO MILITARY CONTACTS IN SEPTEMBER, 
2000. THE GOC HAS REITERATED ITS DESIRE TO REINSTATE THE 
COLOMBIA-VENEZUELA BORDER COMMISSION AS IT TRIES TO 
MANAGE THE LATEST BORDER CRISIS IN A DIPLOMATIC WAY THAT 
WILL NOT PLACE FURTHER STRAIN ON THE ALREADY DELICATE 
DIPLOMATIC RELATIONSHIP.  AFTER HAVING A UNIT AMBUSHED 
AND LOSING TROOPS TO FARC UNITS OPERATING OUT OF 
VENEZUELA ON MARCH 19, COLOMBIAN ARMY SECOND DIVISION 
COMMANDER GENERAL MARTIN CARRENO FELT THE NEED TO 
PUBLICLY ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS HIS TROOPS WERE FACING 
(REFTEL). 
 
7. (C) COMMENT:  THERE IS A MOUNTING BODY OF HARD 
EVIDENCE THAT THERE ARE FARC GUERRILLA CAMPS IN 
VENEZUELA. THE GOC, FOR THE TIME BEING, IS PROBABLY 
CONTENT TO LET THE ISSUE PLAY OUT IN THE PRESS AND WAIT 
TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS TO CHAVEZ.  THE COLMIL, HOWEVER, WILL 
MOST LIKELY CONTINUE TO SPEAK OUT, ESPECIALLY, IF THE 
ATTACKS FROM VENEZUELA LEAD TO MORE DEATHS AMONG 
COLOMBIAN UNITS, THE SPARK THAT LED GENERAL CARRENO TO GO 
PUBLIC IN THE MOST RECENT EVENT. POLOFFS WILL VISIT 
BUCARAMANGA, THE SITE OF SECOND DIVISION HEADQUARTERS, 
THE WEEK OF APRIL 15 TO DISCUSS THIS ISSUE WITH GENERAL 
CARRENO AND HIS STAFF. 
 
 
PATTERSON 

 
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