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Cable 924: Renegade Paramilitaries Return to Power in Northern Colombia

Cable 924: Renegade Paramilitaries Return to Power in Northern Colombia

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Published by Andres
This is a 2004 US embassy report describing the rise of illegal right wing paramilitary groups and the continuing weakness of state institutions in the department of Sucre in northern Colombia.
This is a 2004 US embassy report describing the rise of illegal right wing paramilitary groups and the continuing weakness of state institutions in the department of Sucre in northern Colombia.

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Published by: Andres on Mar 11, 2012
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03/11/2012

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Wikileaks Note: The full text of this cable is notavailable.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 010484SUBJECT: SUCRE DEPARTMENT: STRUGGLING WITH SECURITY AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS
Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood forreasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
-------Summary-------
¶1. (C) During a visit to Sincelejo, capital ofSucre Department, Embassy officials observed thatsecurity is improving only slowly in thistraditionally violent area, where the Uribeadministration briefly gave the police and militarystate-of-emergency powers in 2002. The notoriousMontes de Maria region has a permanent policepresence, seizures of illegal drug shipments andcivilian road travel are increasing, and certainacts of terrorism have decreased. However, murdersand attacks on rural estates are on the rise, andthe region is increasingly dominated by aparamilitary strongman, who has completelydisregarded the AUC cease-fire. The FARC and ELNhave maintained a presence in central Sucre.Socially and economically, the department facesdaunting challenges, including a large internally
 
displaced population, high unemployment, andilliteracy. End Summary.
--------------------------------------------------Former Rehabilitation Zone Struggling for Security--------------------------------------------------
¶2. (C) Sucre Department is notorious for guerrillaand paramilitary violence, especially in thecentral region of Montes de Maria, where theRevolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) havea strong presence and the United Self-DefenseForces of Colombia (AUC) have been vying fordominance since about 2000. In 2001, the AUCmassacred 21 civilians in Chengue, a small villagein the Montes de Maria region. Violence andinstability in the Montes de Maria area led theUribe administration to designate central Sucre oneof two "rehabilitation and consolidation zones" in2002, which gave the police and military state-of-emergency powers. These expanded powers wereshort-lived, however, as the Constitutional Courtabolished the zones several months after they wereestablished. Since that time, the government hasmade slow progress in combating violence andillicit activity in the department. There arealmost 1,500 members of the Colombian NationalPolice (CNP) in Sucre, and the departmentalcommander told us his goal is to work withdepartment's Marine and Army units to reduce crimeand increase operations by ten percent each.-- Last year, all six municipalities in theMontes de Maria received squadrons of ruralmounted police ("carabineros"). Several of these
 
municipalities had never had a police presenceand had become accustomed to FARC influence.The department has one EMCAR (mobile policesquadron) of 150 police.-- The two principle highways leading toCartagena and Barranquilla, which illegal armedgroups use for drug trafficking and illegalroadblocks, are closed after 6:00 p.m. Highwaypolice patrol the roads and the police commandertold us that travel, especially by touristsdriving to the coast, has increased. During thetrip, Embassy officials drove several hours fromMonteria, Cordoba Department, to Sincelejo.-- Drug seizures in the department areincreasing. Earlier this year, the policeseized a 700 kilogram shipment of cocaine -- thelargest seizure ever in Sucre -- on its way toCartagena.-- So far in 2004, there have been no reportedillegal roadblocks and only five kidnappings.In 2003, by comparison, there were fiveroadblocks and 43 kidnappings, and 11 roadblocksand 51 kidnappings in 2002.¶3. (C) Nevertheless, the department's securitysituation remains tenuous, and paramilitary andFARC presence is a serious problem. Murdersincreased by three percent between January andSeptember of 2004, and guerrilla attacks on ruralestates are a growing problem. As of September 1,nine ranches had been burned.

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