Colombia y las FARC

Cable sobre la reunión de Uribe y el vicesecretario de Estado de EE UU

Uribe lamenta que el apoyo de Venezuela y los cuantiosos recursos del narcotráfico frustran las disposición al diálogo de las FARC

Date:2010-02-09 19:10:00
Source:Embassy Bogota

DE RUEHBO #0201/01 0401910
O R 091910Z FEB 10

S E C R E T BOGOTA 000201


E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/09

REF: 09 BOGOTA 2714

CLASSIFIED BY: William R. Brownfield, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (U) January 12, 2010; 10:00 AM; Monteria, Colombia.

2. (U) Participants:


Deputy Secretary Steinberg

Ambassador William Brownfield

DAS Christopher McMullen, WHA

DCM Brian Nichols

USAID Mission Director Ken Yamashita

Political Counselor Mark Wells (notetaker)

NAS Director Dan Foote

Economic Counselor Tim Stater

D(S) Special Assistant Lourdes Cue

Control Officer Marcos Mandojana


President Alvaro Uribe

Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez

Minister of Defense Gabriel Silva

Minister of Commerce, Industry & Tourism Luis Guillermo Plata

Ambassador to the United States Carolina Barco

Accion Social (GOC development agency) Director Diego Molano

High Commissioner for Peace and Reintegration Frank Pearl

Vice Minister of Defense Jorge Mario Eastman

MFA North America Desk Adriana Maldonado (notetaker)

3. (C) SUMMARY: Deputy Secretary Steinberg met with President
Uribe and his key ministers for nearly three hours, discussing a
range of bilateral and regional issues. Uribe detailed the
advances in security, education, economic and social indicators,
and trade during his administration but said that Colombia could
not finish the job without continued strong U.S. support. He hoped
to bring an end to the armed conflict in Colombia through
demobilization and social programs, but judged that the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) would never negotiate
as long as it enjoyed a safe haven in Venezuela coupled with a
steady income from drug trafficking. Deputy Steinberg reassured
Uribe that U.S. counter-narcotics efforts would remain a core
element of assistance, noting that it was essential to address
Colombia's broader problems. Uribe agreed on the need for prudence
in dealing with the bellicose statements of President Hugo Chavez
but asked for intelligence-sharing on Colombian terrorist groups
hiding-out in Venezuela. Uribe said that coca cultivation results
in the destruction of Colombian rainforests and thus climate
change, and sought support for his Forest Ranger Family program to
protect rainforests. The Deputy noted concerns about impunity and

human rights. He reiterated U.S. support for moving forward with
the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) at an appropriate
time, and urged continued work on sensitive labor issues for when
the U.S. Congress is ready to vote. END SUMMARY.


Ending the Conflict


4. (C) After a 20-minute one-on-one meeting with President Uribe,
the Deputy Secretary opened the larger meeting by praising the
"great partnership" between the United States and Colombia. He
cited Plan Colombia's "positive but incomplete" results, calling
for more effort to consolidate Colombia's security gains through
reduced poverty and more equitable income distribution. The Deputy
asked Uribe his views for ending the 45-year-old conflict with the
FARC and National Liberation Army (ELN).

5. (C) Uribe recounted his and his predecessors' attempts to
initiate peace processes with both terrorist organizations. He
cited the GOC's success in facilitating the demobilization of more
than 52,000 guerrillas and paramilitaries during his presidency.
He outlined the GOC's poverty-reduction and land restitution
programs aimed at increasing social cohesion and thereby
undermining the terrorists' appeal. Uribe lamented that the
Constitution of 1991 prohibited amnesty for perpetrators of crimes
against humanity, which he claimed greatly restricted the GOC's
ability to negotiate a peace agreement like that reached with M-19
in the late 1980s. He also lamented that the GOC had failed to
prevent the assassination of the Governor of Caqueta by the FARC in

6. (C) Uribe concluded that the FARC and ELN's willingness to talk
were hampered by the fountain of wealth from narco-trafficking
(which makes them self-sufficient, unlike the past conflict in El
Salvador) and the prospect of safe haven in Venezuela. Uribe said
Chavez' support of the guerrillas had frustrated further GOC
military progress against them. The President accepted that U.S.
security assistance had decreased in recent years, but urged the
United States not to back down in what was a "winnable battle."
Deputy Steinberg reassured Uribe that U.S. counter-narcotics
efforts would remain a core element of assistance, noting that it
was essential to address Colombia's broader problems.


Paramilitaries & Reparations


7. (C) Deputy Steinberg asked how the GOC was addressing the
growing threat of criminal groups whose membership includes former
paramilitaries. Uribe said the state had successfully recovered
the monopolies on justice and security once held by the
paramilitary and guerrilla groups, noting significant reductions in
terrorist attacks, murders and kidnappings. Commissioner Pearl
downplayed the role of paramilitaries in emerging criminal groups,
citing a Colombian National Police (CNP) estimate that former
paramilitaries comprised just 12% of the new groups' memberships.
Pearl explained that this means there is a recidivism rate of only
7.4% among the demobilized paramilitaries.

8. (C) Asked about the backlog of reparations for victims, Uribe
declared that the most effective reparation was ending violence.
Molano offered that the GOC budget for administrative reparations
was increasing to $150 million in 2010 and would benefit 15,000 of
the 275,000 victims currently registered under the Justice and
Peace Law (JPL). Uribe reported that the GOC had just made a
decision to confiscate more assets from former paramilitaries for
use in reparations.


Reducing Impunity


9. (C) Deputy Steinberg expressed concern over the persistently
high rates of impunity, noting especially the release just days
earlier of several soldiers accused of extrajudicial executions
(EJEs, presenting murders by state security forces as deaths in
combat). He also asked about a backlog of human rights cases
waiting to be transferred from military to civilian courts. Uribe
said the GOC had made the decision in 2005 to transfer
automatically all human rights cases involving the military to the
civilian justice system, where prosecutors decide whether to
investigate the case further or refer it back to the military
justice system. Minister of Defense Silva asserted that due to
military reforms, EJE complaints had declined from 143 in 2006 to 2
in 2009, according to a leading Colombian NGO. While Uribe assured
the Deputy Secretary of his commitment to eliminate EJEs, he also
vowed to defend the military against "false allegations" of
wrongdoing. The Deputy Secretary urged Colombia to follow through
on the Universal Performance Review initiated in 2008 at the UN
Human Rights Council as a means of developing international and
domestic confidence in its commitment to human rights.


Working with Neighbors


10. (S/NF) Turning to Ecuador, the Deputy solicited ideas for how
the United States could support further rapprochement between the
two countries. Uribe raised the sensitivities caused by Ecuadorian
legal indictments of former Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos
and Colombian military commanders over the March 1, 2008, bombing
of a FARC camp in Ecuador. Foreign Minister Bermudez said the GOC
was trying to build confidence with Ecuador through social projects
along the border. On Venezuela, Uribe advised "verbal prudence,"
publicly ignoring Chavez to minimize the justification for his
attacks. Uribe cautioned, however, that Chavez was "dangerous" in
that he might seek to distract attention from Venezuela's growing
social and economic problems by fighting with Colombia. Uribe
thanked the United States for sharing intelligence on the
activities of terrorist groups in Venezuela and urged continued

11. (C) The Deputy Secretary commended Colombia for building
security partnerships with Mexico and others in the region
(reftel). He viewed this type of cooperation as an alternative to
Venezuela's ALBA agreement and called for more positive
opportunities for working with other like-minded countries in the
region. He cited the Pathways to Prosperity initiative as a more
hopeful model for cooperation.


Coca Cultivation & Climate Change


12. (SBU) Echoing his statements at the UN General Assembly and the
Copenhagen climate change summit, President Uribe linked cocaine
production and drug trafficking with deforestation. Replacing
rainforest with coca crops harms the environment, and
narco-trafficking is not only a problem for Colombia but for its
neighbors as well. Uribe highlighted Colombia's "Family Forest
Warden" program, which pays approximately 90,000 families not to
cultivate coca and to supervise the recuperation of destroyed
forest. The President suggested that a variation of the program
could be launched with U.S. cooperation and become an essential
tool for protecting Colombia's jungles and forests.


Free Trade Agreement


13. (C) Trade Minister Plata pressed the Deputy Secretary on
passage of the FTA. He noted that several of Colombia's neighbors
that produce the same types of products now enjoy FTAs (NAFTA,
Chile, Peru) with the United States, placing Colombia at a
disadvantage. Furthermore, he said non-passage of the
U.S.-Colombia FTA had blocked completion of FTAs with Canada and
the European Union because others were waiting to see how the
sensitive labor and human rights issues would be resolved. Plata
argued that the embargo imposed by Venezuela had already caused a
30% drop in Colombian exports in 2009 and would probably deepen to
50% in 2010. He concluded that Colombia cannot win with soldiers
alone; Colombia needs economic opportunities to advance. Uribe
added that many investors are awaiting FTA approval before
committing to Colombia. He said in past years Colombia could
afford to wait on the additional economic activity that the FTA
would generate given the GOC budget surplus. He lamented that
Colombia would have "much narrower fiscal room" in 2010.

14. (C) Deputy Steinberg responded that President Obama and the
Secretary were aware of the need to pass the FTA, and further
explained the problems posed by the U.S. Congress' legislative
calendar and elections cycle. He noted that health care reform has
taken longer than expected. He urged the GOC to continue working
with the USG on labor violence issues and working conditions to
"have everything lined up" when Congress is prepared to take up the
FTA. He acknowledged that the goal should not be unanimous
support, but that both governments must present the best case
possible to maximize the chance for success.

15. (U) Deputy Secretary Steinberg cleared this cable.
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