Cablegate: Country Clearance Granted for Demining Pav

Published: Tue 29 Mar 2005 02:35 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. Country clearance is granted for Allan Schnabel, John
Jordan, Stephen Meyer, and Harry McCloy to travel to Bogota
April 4-8 2005. Purpose of the visit is to assess the
humanitarian demining situation in Colombia. Travelers are
requested to advise control officer ASAP if visit is canceled
or changed.
2. Travelers to the capital city of Bogota may require some
time to adjust to the altitude (8,600 feet), which can
adversely affect blood pressure, digestion, sleep and energy
level. Inability to sleep through the night is especially
common. Most people, even those who are healthy and fit,
feel some symptoms of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) upon arrival
in Bogota. Persons with medical conditions related to the
circulatory or respiratory systems (high blood pressure,
history of coronary heart disease, emphysema, for example),
and anyone with sickle cell anemia, should ask their
physician if travel to Bogota or other high-altitude
locations is advisable. U.S. government employees who do not
have a Class I medical clearance are requested to check with
M/MED before planning travel to Bogota. Diamox, a medication
commonly prescribed to aid with acclimatization, is not
generally required for travel to Bogota. However, it is
advisable to limit physical activity and drink plenty of
non-alcoholic beverages for the first two to three days after
arriving in Bogota.
3. Control officer for this visit is Pol Officer Dana Brown,
(h)571-621-7981, (cell) 57-310-584-8576, POL direct line is
011-571-315-2129 (from US, no need of prefix once in Bogota),
office extension is -2563. POL fax number is (571) 315-2163.
The embassy is located at Calle 22D-BIS, No. 47-51. Embassy
after-hours telephone (direct to MSG Post One) is (571)
4. Reporting Requirement: Embassy Bogota is in an area with
at least three operating foreign terrorist organizations.
Security is the concern of all employees. Therefore, all TDY
personnel are required to report any suspicious activity or
actual incidents to the Regional Security Office or the
agency/office sponsoring their visit as soon as possible. In
all cases this will be done prior to the departure from
Colombia of the TDY person or group.
5. Airport Arrivals/Transportation Services: Do not use
local taxis or buses when arriving at the airport. The
following transportation arrangements have been made for your
arrival: Dana Brown and an expediter will meet the travelers
at airport and arrange all transportation.
6. Hotel reservations have been made at the Andino Royal on
Calle 85, 12-28 in Bogota, phone number 571-651-3100. Room
rate is within per diem and includes breakfast. Confirmation
numbers are Schnabel 108367, Jordan 100369, Meyer 100370, and
McCloy (vice Harris) 100368.
7. Passports and visas: All official visitors traveling on a
diplomatic or official passport must have a diplomatic or
official visa, respectively. All U.S. Government employees
or military personnel traveling on official business must use
official or diplomatic passports with appropriate visas. All
contract employees using a tourist passport must have a work
visa. Departure tax from Bogota is USD 51.00 for holders of
tourist passports who stay less than 60 days and USD 30.00
for holders of diplomatic and official passports regardless
of length of stay.
8. Current security assessment:
A. Terrorism: Colombia is considered a high-threat
environment. U.S. Government personnel can be considered
targets by terrorist organizations. Personal and official
travel outside Bogota to other locales in Colombia is
strictly regulated by the embassy (see para 8). Visitors
must exercise prudence and good judgment to minimize risks
and vulnerabilities. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia (FARC) consider Plan Colombia a "Declaration of War"
and have declared certain categories of USG personnel as
legitimate targets. Threats may also derive from
paramilitaries and narcotics traffickers.
B. Crime: Crime can be a serious problem for visiting
personnel. Street crimes such as purse-snatching,
pick-pocketing, and fraud schemes are the most prevalent type
of incident in which TDY personnel are involved, although
violent crime and attempted carjackings also affect USG
personnel sporadically. In hotels, it is recommended that
room safes or the hotel safe be used to store valuables.
High-value items (jewelry, cameras, unnecessary credit cards,
etc.) should be left at home. Luggage and attache cases
(including laptop computers) should never be left unattended,
even briefly, at the airport or in public areas. When
traveling in a vehicle, ensure the doors are locked and the
windows rolled up.
C. Public Transportation: Post policy prohibits the use of
commercial buses. If taxis are utilized, ensure the
hotel/restaurant calls a taxi. Avoid hailing one on the
street. Never share a cab with an unknown person (including
the driver's "brother/son/cousin, etc."). Ensure the meter
is working or agree upon the fare prior to entering the
D. As a general matter TDY personnel are not/not authorized
to bring firearms into the country. Those employees who
believe they have a need for firearms should contact the
Regional Security Office well before the visit.
9. Approval for country clearance is limited to those deemed
mission essential. Those granted clearances are required to
abide by the same restrictions placed on all U.S. personnel
at the embassy. This includes prior clearance by the RSO and
DCM for any RPT any personal or official travel outside of
Bogota or any other TDY site.
10. Security briefings for Temporary Duty (TDY) Personnel
are held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 0930 to 1030
in the Public Affairs Conference Room on the 2nd floor on the
North side of the Embassy. After the briefing, TDY employees
will be issued an Embassy identification card valid for the
length of their assignment. If an Embassy identification
badge expires based on an initial TDY country clearance for
Colombia, a new Embassy badge may be reissued upon
presentation of an updated country clearance for Colombia.
TDY employees who will be in country for 14 calendar days or
less will not be issued an Embassy identification card.
11. Laptop Computers, PDAs, Cameras
A) All personnel must declare all cameras, personal
computers, including laptop and palm pilots, on the Colombian
Immigration Form. List these items in the "Traveler's Cash,
Bonds and Luggage Declaration - Entry" area of the form. The
airline flight attendant provides this form to you prior to
your arrival in Colombia. You must submit the original copy
to the Colombian customs authorities before leaving the
airport. Please keep the carbon copy of this form, as you
will be asked for it when you leave.
B) USG laptops/palm pilots/cameras may not be brought into
the Embassy without the prior approval of the Regional
Security Office. Personally owned laptops/palm pilots may
not/not be utilized inside the Embassy. USG-owned laptops
may only be used in controlled access areas (CAA - i.e.,
areas where classified information is discussed, processed or
stored) if the user certifies that the computer has been
under the personal control of a cleared American throughout
transit. If this requirement is not met, the laptop can only
be utilized outside of the CAA. USG-owned palm pilots are
under the same restrictions as cellular phones, and may not
be utilized within a controlled access area. USG laptops/PDAs
may not be connected in any way to a Department of State
computer system.
12. Health and Medical: No special inoculations or medical
precautions are necessary for temporary travel to Bogota.
Water and food are safe in the city's better restaurants, but
avoid eating at small roadside stands as food preparation
standards may be questionable. The embassy recommends
drinking bottled water (although tap water in Bogota proper
is considered safe) and avoiding raw fish or seafood. Yellow
fever vaccine is not required but the embassy and the CDC
recommend that travelers receive vaccine if going to the
middle valley of the Magdalena River, eastern and western
foothills of the Cordillera Oriental from the border with
Ecuador to that with Venezuela, Uraba, the foothills of the
Sierra Nevada, eastern plains, and Amazonia. They should
carry their inoculation record and have the date of a current
yellow fever vaccine recorded in it. While there is no
malaria risk in Bogota, there is risk in all rural areas at
altitudes less than 800 meters. Use of prophylactic drugs is
13. Climate: Due to the altitude, Bogota's weather is
generally cool and temperatures range from 50 degrees
Fahrenheit at night to 70 degrees during the day. Rain
showers occur frequently. Sweaters and light jackets are
recommended. Dark suit and tie for men and comparable dress
for women are appropriate. Contact the sponsoring office for
local climate conditions should the TDY be performed outside
of Bogota.
14. Exchange Facilities: Banking and ATM services are
located in the Embassy. Personal checks are accepted and
receive a 5 percent higher exchange rate than currency. The
current exchange rate for checks is approximately 2,300 pesos
for one dollar although the rate varies daily. Visa and
Mastercard are accepted at most restaurants and stores.
However, credit card fraud is common and the Embassy
recommends not using them unless necessary.
15. Additional information may be obtained at the Embassy
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