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Cable 1027: Colombia Captures Rebel Commander in US-Supported Operation

Cable 1027: Colombia Captures Rebel Commander in US-Supported Operation

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Published by Andres
This is a 2008 US embassy report describing the capture of ELN commander Carlos "Pablito" Guarin by Colombian security forces using information provided by the embassy's Intelligence Fusion Cell.
This is a 2008 US embassy report describing the capture of ELN commander Carlos "Pablito" Guarin by Colombian security forces using information provided by the embassy's Intelligence Fusion Cell.

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Published by: Andres on Apr 14, 2013
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P 112117Z JAN 08FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0906S E C R E T BOGOTA 000164SUBJECT: GOC CAPTURES ELN COMMANDER "PABLITO"
Classified By: Political Counselor John Creamer -Reasons 1.4 (b and d)
-------Summary-------
¶1. (C) Colombian authorities captured Carlos MarinGuarin (aka "Pablito") a commander of the country'ssecond largest terrorist group, the NationalLiberation Army (ELN), on January 7. DefenseMinister Santos said Pablito was the key figure inthe ELN's military structure, adding that hiscapture removed an important obstacle to the GOC-ELN peace talks. Still, sources close to the ELNand the peace talks told us Pablito's capture wouldnot have a major impact on the stalled GOC-ELNtalks. Many hard-liners remain, and the ELN'snarcotrafficking, leadership weaknesses, and recentrapprochement with the FARC would continue tocomplicate efforts to move ahead. End Summary.
--------------------------GOC Captures ELN Hard-liner--------------------------
 
 ¶2. (U) Pablito, commander of three of the ELN'sseven fronts, was captured in Bogota on January 7,while reorganizing the group's militarycapabilities. He was wanted by authorities onnumerous charges, including: the murder of aprominent Catholic bishop, kidnappings, and morethan 200 bombings of Occidental Petroleum's Cano-Limon oil pipeline. Though not on the GOC's most-wanted terrorist list, Army Commander General MarioMontoya said Pablito's arrest was the result ofmonths of intelligence work tracking the terroristleader.¶3. (S) The Embassy's Intelligence Fusion Cell(EIFC) worked with the GOC to track Pablito priorto his arrival in Bogota. Legatt confirms that asealed U.S. indictment against Pablito is pendingfor the 2003 kidnapping of two U.S. citizens.
-------------------- An Obstacle to Peace--------------------
¶4. (U) The GOC made a media show of the capture,claiming it had removed a key terrorist leader andone of the ELN's staunchest opponents to peacetalks with the GOC. Defense Minister Juan ManuelSantos told the media Pablito was, "the ELN's mostbelligerent opponent of the peace process... andthe most important ELN ringleader captured inhistory." He claimed that Pablito had on numerousoccasions "prevented the ELN's central command
 
(COCE) from signing a peace treaty with thegovernment." Analyst Pablo Casas of the Securityand Democracy Foundation added, "The ELN was havinga lot of trouble internally, in terms of gettingeveryone on board with the peace process. Marin'scapture removes one of those roadblocks."
---------------------------------------------Others Downplay Pablito's Importance to Talks---------------------------------------------
¶5. (C) ELN peace process guarantor Mortz Akerman-- who met the ELN commander -- told us Pablito wasan important military player and a "negativeinfluence" in the peace talks, but said the GOC'sclaims were overblown. Pablito was an obstacle topeace talks, but there were many others like him inthe ELN. His capture, Akerman concluded, wouldnot likely have a noticeable impact on the stalledELN peace process.¶6. (C) Catholic Priest Dario Echeverri agreedPablito's capture would not have much impact onGOC-ELN peace talks. Echeverri, who discussed thepeace process with Pablito after ELN-GOC peacetalks last August, said Pablito questioned thetalks' purpose and appeared committed to continuingthe fight. Still, Echeverri said the main obstacleto the peace process was not Pablito, but the ELN'sgrowing dependence on narcotrafficking, lack ofCOCE control over key ELN Fronts, and the ELNleaders' unwillingness to pursue talks opposed bythe FARC. Echeverri added that the ELN, like theFARC, owes a substantial debt to Venezuelan

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