Poor personal and institutional relations within the Colombian government were detrimental to the demobilization process according to a WikiLeaks cable released via El Espectador.
In the cable dated June 5, 2006, then-U.S. Ambassador William Wood relays a May 26 meeting with then-Peace Commissioner Carlos Restrepo in which Restrepo voiced his concern over the speed with which the Justice and Peace Law (JPL) process was being carried out to fully demobilize former paramilitaries.
Restrepo places much of the onus on the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Justice and Interior Ministry by warning Wood that should they not accelerate the pace of processing under the JPL, or they risk would “a return to the mountains” of former paramilitaries.
The former peace commissioner highlighted the fact that it had taken him three months to persuade 2,284 paramilitaries to sign up to the JPL. Of these, only 200 to 250 cases were open at the point of the meeting due to the ministry and the Prosecutor’s Office “sitting on the lists,” that Restrepo had turned over.
Further complicating matters was the deterioration of Restrepo’s working relationship with the then Interior and Justice Minister Sabas Pretelt and the Prosecutor General, Mario Iguaran.
According to Restrepo, the two were continually sending messages back and forth to his office, in his view, to obstruct the movement of the lists he had provided. Furthermore, Pretelt would often speak badly of Restrepo when he met with paramilitary leaders, Restrepo said.
These attitudes Restrepo believed stemmed from the fear both Iguaran and Pretelt held that they would not be able to fulfil the promises they had made before carrying out the demobilization process. In a cabinet meeting, for example, Pretelt apparently stated how 70% of the demobilized were already in a form of employment. Restrepo put the figure closer to 7%.
These revelations of internal dysfunction contributing to the failure of the demobilization process come a week after a separate series of leaked cables highlighted deficiencies within the JPL itself that helped facilitate the breakdown of the process and subsequently the rise of neo-paramilitary organizations.
Overall, it has been a highly damaging week for prominent figures from that era.
Restrepo was implicated in two separate incidents of “false demobilizations,” one in which a FARC front was allegedly created out of homeless people solely for the purpose of demobilizing and the second in which Restrepo knowingly allowed combatants to claim demobilization for the benefits the government offered only to then return to illegal activities.
Then, on Sunday, Iguaran’s 2005 election to the position of prosecutor general was thrown into doubt as a 2008 cable seconded a claim made last year by a former AUC member that the paramilitary group had bribed in order to secure his election.