The cable, dated October 6, 2006, relays how Uribe’s Director of Communications Jorge Mario Eastman told the then-U.S. Ambassador William B. Wood that Leyva was difficult to work with as it was not possible to determine whether he was transmitting a message from the FARC or operating on his own account.
Due to this lack of “reliable, discreet interlocutors,” the government was forced into a position whereby they had to carry out talks with the guerrilla group through the media, Eastman stated.
He added that this greatly diminished the chance of successful negotiations.
Leyva was a presidential candidate in 2006 though he withdrew his candidacy 20 days prior to the elections. He campaigned on the back of a promise that he could end Colombia’s conflict within a six month period.
According to the cable, Leyva met with Uribe three times from August until October 2006 to discuss ways to begin negotiations with the FARC and advocated the creation of a demilitarized “encounter zone,” not dissimilar to the one created under the presidency of Andres Pastrana in December 1998.
However, Leyva’s success was limited and his role as an intermediary never reached a level of prominence. In light Eastman’s comments, this unsurprising.
In May 2008 investigations began into Leyva for alleged ties to the FARC although the charges were dropped a year later.
Leyva’s experience highlights the vulnerability of a person in the position of interlocutor, which can expose them to accusations of collaborating with the FARC, or “FARC politics.”
Piedad Cordoba, who acted as mediator for the FARC hostage release in February, was barred from holding public office for 18 years last September for her alleged ties to the FARC.
Earlier this year, she announced her ambition to act as an intermediary between the government and the FARC in any possible future peace talks.