Whether the FARC or ELN have infiltrated most police stations, army bases, and Attorney General's Offices, including the GAULA (2000 to October 2002) [COL39098.E]

While specific reports of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) and the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) infiltrating of police stations, army bases, and the offices of the Attorney General, including the GAULA, are scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate, there are reports of some infiltration; examples follow.

A report prepared by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Washington Office on Latin America to review Colombia's human rights record with respect to the commitments it made in exchange for US military assistance stated that members of the Colombian Armed Forces alleged that civilian institutions had been infiltrated by guerrilla groups (28 August 2000). In particular, General Néstor Ramírez, the Army Chief of Staff, stated that the Attorney General's Office (Fiscalía General de la Nación), the Office of the Procurator General (Procuraduría General de la Nación) and the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office had been infiltrated by such groups with the backing of national and international organizations (ibid.). Ramírez, however, had not presented evidence to back his claims (ibid.). Then-president Pastrana, while regretting the comments made by the Army Chief of Staff, asked the Fiscalía and the Procuraduría to launch an investigation into the allegations (ibid.).

While not specifying the guerrilla group, Caracol Television reported on 16 March 2001 that rebels had infiltrated the Infant Marines and facilitated an attack on the Villahermosa prison in Tokio Hill, Valle department. Guards of the National Institute of Prisons and Penitentiaries were to carry out surprise searches on inmates of the prison (Caracol Television 16 Mar. 2001).

In November 2001, a FARC spy and his accomplice were arrested at a flying school in Cali for spying on the school, according to Gen. Hector Fabio Velasco, a Colombian Air Force commander (EFE 23 Nov. 2001). José Eusberto Castro Raigoza, an alleged FARC cell leader, and Erasmo Zapata Gaitan, an employee of the flying school, were handed over to prosecutors and indicted (ibid.). Castro Raigoza had told the flying school authorities that he could provide intelligence, but he and Zapata Gaitan "stole an M-16 rifle" from the school (ibid.).

Two reports stated that the FARC had infiltrated the electoral campaign team of current Colombian president Alvaro Uribe Velez (EFE 9 Sept. 2001; The Scotsman 16 Apr. 2002). The plot to kill Uribe was revealed by Diego Serna, the FARC guerrilla who infiltrated his campaign team but subsequently broke ranks with the conspirators (ibid.).

Two 2002 sources report that the FARC may have infiltrated the highest levels of government (EFE 31 July 2002; Xinhua 1 Aug. 2002). Luis Osorio, Colombia's Attorney General, stated that the authorities were investigating claims that FARC sympathizers were using their government positions to destabilize state institutions by providing information to the FARC (ibid.; EFE 21 July 2002). Cambio magazine had alleged that there were links between FARC Front 42 and Col. Edgar Bejarano, who was forced to retire from the armed forces by the United States (Xinhua 1 Aug. 2002). Bejarano was allegedly involving in diverting funds from money contributed by the US to support the war on drugs (EFE 31 July 2001). The EFE report also adds that Bejarano had served for 13 years as the private secretary to Gen. Luis Ernesto Gilibert, the head of the National Police (ibid.).

No reports of guerrilla groups infiltrating the GAULA could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References


Caracol Television [Bogotá, in Spanish]. 16 Mar. 2001. "Bogota TV Highlights 161200: BOG-01--1039. Paragraph 26." (FBIS-LAT-2001-0316 16 Mar. 2001/WNC)

EFE. 31 July 2002. "Colombia-Rebels: Colombia Probes Possible Rebel Fifth Column." (NEXIS)

_____. 23 November 2001. "Colombia-Espionage: Colombian Air Force Confirms Arrest of FARC Infiltrator." (NEXIS)

_____. 9 Sept. 2001. "Colombia-Bomb: Explosives Meant for Colombian Candidate Found in Books." (NEXIS)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) et al. 28 August 2000. Colombia Certification. http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/colombia/certification.htm [Accessed 16 Oct. 2002]

The Scotsman [Glasgow]. 16 April 2002. Jeremy McDermott. "Colombia's Front-Runner Survives Assassination Attempt." (NEXIS)

Xinhua. 1 August 2002. "Colombian Investigate FARC's Infiltration into Gov't." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted


Country Report on Human Rights Practices. 2000-2001

IRB Databases

Internet sites, including:

Actualidad Colombiana [Bogotá]

Amnesty International

BBC

Colombia Analítica [Bogotá]

Colombia Human Rights Network

Colombia Office for the UNCHR

Derechos Human Rights

Equipo Nizkor

El Espectador [Bogotá]

International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2001. March 2002

Terra

El Tiempo [Bogotá]

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