Cablegate: Das Shapiro and Pdas Farrar Meet with President

Published: Tue 2 Nov 2004 06:31 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BOGOTA 012846
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/15/2014
Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood for reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (U) December 15, 2004, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Presidential
Palace, Bogota.
2. (U) Participants:
WHA DAS Charles Shapiro
INL PDAS Jonathan Farrar
Ambassador William B. Wood
David Henifin, WHA/AND Deputy Director
Al Matano, INL/LP Deputy Director
Craig Conway, POL (notetaker)
President Alvaro Uribe
Jaime Bermudez, Presidential Communications Director
Francisco Gonzalez, MFA Americas Division (notetaker)
3. (C) WHA DAS Shapiro, INL PDAS Farrar, and Ambassador Wood
called on President Uribe on December 15. Uribe expressed
gratitude for U.S. counternarcotics and counterterrorism
assistance, but shared his concern that record levels of
seizures and eradications have not had an effect on prices in
Europe and the U.S. Uribe noted that Colombia's illegal
armed groups have been seriously weakened by GOC military
pressure and, like the paramilitaries, both the FARC and the
ELN will opt for peaceful negotiations within the next five
years. Uribe stressed the importance of human rights in GOC
policies and pledged to continue dialogue with NGOs. He also
promised to review key human rights cases, including
Guaitarilla, Cajamarca, and Mapiripan, with the MOD. Uribe
agreed to clarify the GOC's positions and implementation
plans for demobilization by presenting a series of key points
to the international community. Uribe commented on his
difficult position with regard to Venezuela and Brazil and
promised to look into Colombia's voting position on human
rights in the UN. Despite the Supreme Court's wait-and-see
attitude on extraditions, Uribe affirmed his full support for
continued extraditions. End Summary.
4. (C) President Uribe expressed appreciation for U.S.
assistance, noting that without U.S. support Colombia would
not have the ability to fight guerrilla or paramilitary
groups, both of which are financed by narcotics trafficking.
Farrar thanked Uribe for his Government's efforts against
illegal armed groups and pledged continued support for
counternarcotics efforts. Uribe asked Farrar for the USG's
assessment of counternarcotics programs in Colombia and
expressed concern that, although seizures and crop
eradication figures are at record high levels, the price of
cocaine has not increased. Uribe noted that a failure to
show results would lead to greater pressure for legalization
or funding cuts. Wood observed that there is not enough data
on actual narcotics supply in the U.S. or quantities of
narcotics in the "pipeline," which limits our ability to
explain the lack of tangible results on the streets of the
Prospects for Success
5. (C) In response to a question, Uribe said Colombia's
illegal armed groups cannot resist an additional five years
of military pressure. Refusing to promise concrete dates and
noting the importance of being a realist, Uribe pledged to
continue to pressure illegal armed groups. Paramilitaries
are not negotiating simply because they want peace, but
because of the military pressure the Government has applied
and their fear of extradition to the U.S. Uribe speculated
that splinter groups of narcotrafficking organizations will
follow in the wake of the paramilitaries and observed that
destroying those groups will require a military solution.
Uribe said that the ELN has been significantly weakened and
is seeking a political solution. Uribe estimated the FARC
have lost about 40 percent of their military capacity and had
only a limited capacity to recruit new members. Uribe
speculated that the FARC might begin to negotiate if he wins
re-election, but added he would continue to caution the
public to not expect quick results. DAS Shapiro told Uribe
the U.S. would continue to support the GOC's efforts. Uribe
agreed on the importance of sustaining efforts to improve
security and increase public confidence in Government
Coordination and Advances
6. (C) Uribe noted that cooperation with the U.S. has been
extraordinary, citing several recent captures of guerrilla
leaders, including the FARC's "Foreign Minister," Rodrigo
Granda Escobar (septel). Shapiro said he had been impressed
with USG-GOC coordination during his visit to San Jose de
Guaviare and congratulated Uribe on his efforts to increase
the state's presence throughout the country. Uribe said he
had observed a greater commitment from the armed forces to
address corruption and collusion with paramilitaries. He
also noted that the number of allegations of collusion
continues to drop.
Human Rights
7. (C) Shapiro stressed the importance of continued work on
human rights. Uribe reaffirmed his commitment to human
rights, noting the central role they play in his efforts.
Shapiro noted the importance of continued dialogue with NGOs.
Uribe acknowledged the tense nature of many of his
discussions with NGOs, but agreed continued dialogue is
important. The Ambassador recognized improvements on human
rights, but stressed the importance of progress on several
key human rights cases that are followed carefully by
Congress and NGOs, including Guaitarilla, Cajamarca, and
Mapiripan. Wood stressed the importance of a transparent,
public judicial investigation with effective results, adding
that an internal disciplinary process was not sufficient.
Uribe agreed to review the cases with the MOD.
8. (C) On Mapiripan, Farrar said that Fiscalia pressure on
Orozco and the persistence of unresolved human rights cases
impede the Administration's efforts with Congress. Uribe
stressed he only has the ability to guarantee military
justice, noting that Colombia's judicial system is
independent of the executive branch. Uribe noted that the
latest generals' promotion list contained no individuals
accused of human rights abuses or collusion. Wood expressed
U.S. interest in General Avila's dismissal, stating that it
was not sufficient simply to remove him from command and
reassign him. Wood stressed the importance of thorough
investigations of all allegations. Uribe asked if there was
direct evidence implicating Avila. Uribe agreed that Avila
would have to be retired if there was sufficient evidence
against him, but cautioned that the Government cannot dismiss
an officer on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations.
Uribe promised to follow up with the MOD.
Paramilitary Demobilization
9. (C) Shapiro and Wood encouraged Uribe to be more active in
communicating the GOC's position on the Law for Justice and
Reparations, noting that the GOC's silence had allowed their
opponents to frame the debate and created confusion in
Washington and European capitals. Uribe stressed the
importance of balancing peace and justice, but added that the
GOC was slowly resolving differences with members of the
opposition in Congress. He also stressed that the
legislation would apply to paramilitaries and guerrillas
equally, noting that many guerrillas would not agree to the
lengthy prison sentences included in the opposition's draft
legislation. Uribe agreed that the GOC would draft a series
of key points, including criteria and an implementation
process, to present to the international community in order
to clarify the GOC's position.
Venezuela and Brazil
10. (C) Uribe said he had discussed Chavez with President
Bush in Cartagena. He discussed the difficulties of
maintaining a workable relationship with Chavez. The absence
of evidence proving that Chavez stole the elections and
Chavez's private assertion that he has no relationship with
the FARC or narcotraffickers makes it difficult to condemn
him publicly, despite Uribe's private distrust of Chavez and
his belief that Chavez may be helping the FARC and narcotics
traffickers. In bilateral meetings, Uribe's criticisms have
focused on Chavez's failure to take action against
narcotraffickers. Uribe also told Chavez in Cuzco that he is
not helping himself by taking a confrontational position with
the U.S. On Brazil, Uribe said his relationship with Lula is
complicated by Lula's effort to build an anti-U.S. alliance
in Latin America. Lula is more practical and intelligent
than Chavez, but is driven by his leftist background and
Brazilian "imperial spirit" to oppose the U.S. Uribe has
little influence with either Lula or Chavez because they see
him as a friend of the U.S. Uribe said he would continue to
press Chavez to take action against narcotraffickers and
noted that Lula has not followed through on promises to fight
narcotics trafficking.
OAS Secretary General
11. (C) Shapiro pressed Colombia to strengthen its support
for former President of El Salvador Flores for Secretary
General of the Organization of American States (OAS). Uribe
said the GOC supported his candidacy, but cautioned that
Flores would have to ratchet up his campaign. (Mexican
Foreign Minister Derbez, presumably visiting to advocate his
own candidacy, was the next visitor on Uribe's schedule.)
UN Human Rights Votes
12. (C) Shapiro said he did not understand the GOC's
abstentions on key human rights votes in the UN involving
Cuba, Zimbabwe and Sudan. In particular, he asked the
President to oppose possible upcoming no-action motions in
the UNGA plenary on Iran and Turkmenistan. Uribe promised to
review the matter with the MFA.
13. (C) In response to a question on extradition, Uribe
explained that the Supreme Court of Justice had taken a
wait-and-see position in the wake of a statement -- and
despite the later retraction of this statement -- by the U.S.
Attorney in Miami that Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela would be
tried for acts committed during the past 20 years, contrary
to USG assurances that he would not be tried for acts
committed before 1997 (reftel). Uribe affirmed his
commitment to extradition and expressed confidence that the
matter would be resolved in the near future.
14. (U) This cable has been cleared by DAS Shapiro.
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