US embassy cable - 89BOGOTA17718

DESERTERS REVEAL DETAILS OF THE FARC'S BLOOD PURGE OF SUSPECTED INFILTRATORS

Identifier: 89BOGOTA17718
Wikileaks: View 89BOGOTA17718 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Bogota
Created: 1989-11-14 23:55:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PTER PINS PHUM PGOV CO
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 142355Z NOV 89
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0558
INFO SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
USCINCSO QUARRY HEIGHTS PRIORITY
DEA WASHDC PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY CARACAS
AMEMBASSY LIMA
AMEMBASSY QUITO
DIA WASHDC
CIA WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 17718 
 
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR 
TAGS: PTER, PINS, PHUM, PGOV, CO 
SUBJECT: DESERTERS REVEAL DETAILS OF THE FARC'S BLOOD 
         PURGE OF SUSPECTED INFILTRATORS 
 
1.  (C)  SUMMARY:  SIX GUERRILLA DESERTERS UNFOLDED TO 
JOURNALISTS AN EYE-OPENING ACCOUNT OF ATROCITIES 
COMMITTED BY THE FARC LEADERSHIP AGAINST ITS TROOPS IN 
THE MIDDLE MAGDALENA RIVER VALLEY.  CARLOS ENRIQUE 
CARDONA (AKA BRAULIO HERRERA), A FARC LEADER IN THE 
MAGDALENA, STAGED A SERIES OF MASSACRES OF MANY OF HIS 
OWN MEN WHOM HE SUSPECTED OF BEING GOVERNMENT 
INFILTRATORS.  THE REAL MOTIVATION, HOWEVER, SEEMS TO 
HAVE BEEN THE CHAGRIN EXPERIENCED BY CARDONA AND OTHER 
REGIONAL FARC LEADERS AT INCREASING DISAFFECTION AND 
DESERTION WITHIN GUERRILLA RANKS.  THE INCIDENT 
UNDERSCORES THE FARC'S READINESS TO COMMIT ATROCITIES. 
IT ALSO SHOWS UP AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL AS ONE-SIDEDLY 
EMPHASIZING THE GOC'S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD, WHILE 
DOWNPLAYING GUERRILLA ATROCITIES.  END SUMMARY 
 
UP FOUNDER ORDERS PUNITIVE KILLINGS OF FARC TROOPS 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
2.  (U)  THE SIX DESERTERS SPOKE TO JOURNALISTS FROM 
THEIR RURAL HIDING PLACE IN NORTHERN COLOMBIA IN EARLY 
NOVEMBER.  THE BLOOD PURGE REPORTEDLY DECIMATED SEVERAL 
FARC FRONTS IN THE MIDDLE MAGDALENA RIVER VALLEY REGION: 
AT LEAST 200 AND AS MANY AS 500 FARC GUERRILLAS MAY HAVE 
BEEN EXECUTED IN LATE 1988 AND EARLY 1989, ACCORDING TO 
THE SIX DESERTERS.  CARLOS ENRIQUE CARDONA (AKA BRAULIO 
HERRERA), THE MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR MOST OF THE KILLINGS, 
IS A PROMINENT FARC LEADER AND A FOUNDER OF THE 
PATRIOTIC UNION (UP) PARTY (IN 1985).  HE ORDERED THE 
PUNITIVE KILLINGS AFTER HE FAILED IN LATE 1988 TO 
RECOVER THE MIDDLE MAGDALENA RIVER VALLEY, A FARC 
STRONGHOLD UNTIL THE LOCAL "SELF-DEFENSE GROUPS" DROVE 
THE GUERRILLAS OUT IN 1981-82.  THE EXECUTIONS WERE 
PRECEDED BY MOCK COURT MARTIALS TO GIVE A FORMAL 
APPEARANCE THAT JUSTICE HAD BEEN SERVED. 
 
FARC SENTENCES PURGER TO DEATH, BUT THE PC SAVES HIM 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
3.  (U)  THE DESERTERS SAID THAT IN MARCH 1989 THE FARC 
HIGH COMMAND SENT AN INVESTIGATOR ("AYUDANTIA") TO THE 
CARDONA'S ELEVENTH FRONT IN THE MAGDALENA.  THE ENVOY 
FROM THE HIGH COMMAND ENDED THE INDISCRIMINATE 
EXECUTIONS.  HE THEN ORDERED CARDONA TO RELINQUISH HIS 
COMMAND AND APPEAR BEFORE THE FARC'S TOP LEADERSHIP IN 
THE HILLS OF META DEPARTMENT.  IN APRIL, THE FARC'S 
SECRETARIAT TRIED AND SENTENCED CARDONA/HERRERA TO DEATH 
(IN ABSENTIA) FOR HAVING FAILED TO RETAKE THE MAGDALENA 
REGION.  ONE OF THE SIX DESERTERS, A FORMER ASSISTANT TO 
FARC LEADERS MANUEL MARULANDA AND JACOBO ARENAS, ACCUSED 
THE FARC'S LEADERSHIP OF TRYING TO HUSH UP CARDONA'S 
ATROCITIES TO PREVENT FURTHER DEMORALIZATION AMONG FARC 
TROOPS.  THE DESERTERS RELATED THAT THE LEADERSHIP OF 
THE COLOMBIAN COMMUNIST PARTY (PCC) WAS ABLE TO 
INTERCEDE IN CARDONA'S BEHALF AND MITIGATE HIS SENTENCE 
TO ONE OF EXPULSION FROM THE FARC.  LATER THIS YEAR, THE 
PCC SENT CARDONA TO MOSCOW, WHERE HE NOW RESIDES ON A 
"STUDENT SCHOLARSHIP." 
 
COMMENT: 
-------- 
4.  (C)  THE REVELATIONS BY THE FARC DESERTERS ARE YET 
ANOTHER INDICATION OF THE READINESS OF THE GUERRILLAS TO 
COMMIT ATROCITIES.  THEY ALSO SUGGEST THAT SOME FARC 
LEADERS ARE INSECURE AND WILLING TO RESORT TO DESPERATE 
MEASURES TO MAINTAIN CONTROL OF THEIR TROOPS. 
IRONICALLY, THE INDIVIDUAL ACCUSED OF COMMITTING THIS 
ATROCITY WAS A LEADING FOUNDER OF THE UP, ONE OF THE 
MORE VOCAL CRITICS OF THE GOC HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD.  EVEN 
MORE IRONICALLY IT WAS THE PCC, THE MAJOR COMPONENT OF 
THE UP, WHICH INTERCEDED ON CARDONA'S BEHALF AND 
ASSISTED HIM TO OBTAIN SHELTER IN THE SOVIET UNION. 
THIS INCIDENT ALSO UNDERSCORES THE WRONGHEADEDNESS OF 
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, WHOSE ONE-SIDED REPORT ON HUMAN 
RIGHTS IN COLOMBIA EMPHASIZES THE GOVERNMENT'S RECORD 
AND DOWNPLAYS GUERRILLA ATROCITIES SUCH AS THIS ONE. 
 
 
MCLEAN 

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