INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Xxxxxxxxxxxx to Ambassador: Goc Angry at Usg Silence On Venezuela; Problems Within Mod; No New Prosecutor General

Published: Wed 25 Nov 2009 08:08 PM
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DE RUEHBO #3441/01 3292006
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R 252006Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1230
INFO RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0258
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
S E C R E T BOGOTA 003441
NOFORN
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/25
TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC MOPS PHUM KJUS PINR VE CO
SUBJECT: XXXXXXXXXXXX TO AMBASSADOR: GOC ANGRY AT USG SILENCE ON VENEZUELA; PROBLEMS WITHIN MOD; NO NEW PROSECUTOR GENERAL
REF: A. BOGOTA 3421; B. BOGOTA 3375; C. BOGOTA 3271
CLASSIFIED BY: William R. Brownfield, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)
SUMMARY
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1. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX told the Ambassador on November 24 that President Uribe was angry with the USG for its lack of response to Venezuela's aggressions towards Colombia.
XXXXXXXXXXXX also said the GOC was interpreting the
cancelation of Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg's December
1-3 visit to Colombia as a political signal. The Ambassador explained
that the visit was only canceled due to a scheduling conflict.
XXXXXXXXXXXX understood, but said this was further
indication of how bad the worrisome anti-USG reaction now was i
Colombia. Even the private sector and former presidents and ministers
were lashing out. The Ambassador said he would seek to address this
perception with the media, and urged the GOC not to fall into
Venezuelan President Chavez' rhetorical trap. XXXXXXXXXXXX
said that Uribe would discuss Venezuela with Brazilian President
Lula in Manaus on November 26.
2. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX also told the Ambassador that Minister
of Defense Gabriel Silva and Armed Forces Commander Freddy
Padilla do not get along; that the Uribe-Supreme Court standoff
would continue well into next year, with the Supreme Court likely
refusing to select a Prosecutor General unless Minister of Interior and
Justice (MOIJ) Fabio Valencia Cossio resigned; that the CNP had asked
prosecutors to begin arrests and prosecutions in the Administrative
Department of Security (DAS) wiretap cases; and that extradited narcotics
traffickers and paramilitaries were preparing a smear campaign
against XXXXXXXXXXXX. End Summary.
URIBE ANGRY AT USG SILENCE ON VENEZUELA
---------------------------------------
3. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX invited the Ambassador and ORA
Chief to lunch November 24 to share his worries about the growing
anti-United States reaction in Colombia. At a security meeting on
November 23, President Uribe, for the first time in
XXXXXXXXXXXX memory, expressed open anger with the USG's
fence-sitting on Venezuela's aggressive threats and posture (ref A).
The Colombian private sector and the Presidential Advisory Board
(former presidents and ministers) were also ventilating against the USG
in private and public. XXXXXXXXXXXX said he was very concerned.
The Ambassador said he would try to address some of these perceptions
with the press on November 25, but stressed the importance of not
falling into President Chavez' rhetorical trap. Chavez was
currently winning the public relations struggle in Colombia, which
is neither in the USG or GOC's interest. Chavez hopes to isolate
Colombia from the region; he is now accomplishing that and dividing
Colombia from the United States. XXXXXXXXXXXX shared that
Uribe had just decided to attend the Summit of Amazon Nations in Manaus,
Brazil, on November 26, where he would work with President Lula on
Venezuela.
DEFENSE MINISTRY DISARRAY
-------------------------
4. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX said there were serious, growing
problems in the MOD (which oversees both the military and the police)
Minister Silva did not trust Armed Forces Chief Gen. Padilla; they now
rarely spoke to one another. XXXXXXXXXXXX also feels that Silva
allows his personal secretary (from the private sector) too much access to
his meetings, which is a growing security concern. Padilla does
not allow Army Commander Gonzalez to run the Army, and Silva does
not support Padilla, so the Army is adrift and senior officers are
playing one off against the other. Compounding things, the Navy
was feeling under assault due to the Rear Admiral Gabriel Arango
Bacci narcotics trafficking case (ref B). Only the Air Force and
CNP seemed to be operating on all cylinders. XXXXXXXXXXXX
himself has comfortable access to both Silva and Uribe.
XXXXXXXXXXXX urged the USG to pay attention to MOD
dysfunctionality.
NO PROSECUTOR GENERAL FOR MONTHS, MINISTER OF
INTERIOR & JUTICE RESIGNATION MAY BE ONLY SOLUTION --------------------------------------------- -----
5. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX said that the standoff between the
Supreme Court and President Uribe on naming a new Prosecutor
General would continue well into 2010. The Supreme Court justices
were visiting Spain now and would go into recess upon their return.
In January, the justices' focus would be on electing a new Supreme
Court president. (Note: Last year, this took three months and 130
votes. End Note.) XXXXXXXXXXXX was convinced that the only
solution to the Executive-Judiciary standoff was to remove MOIJ
Minister Valencia from office. The Supreme Court had personalized
much of its dislike for the Uribe Administration in Valencia.
6. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX conceded that the Court had a point
when it claimed Uribe changed signals on the three-person list of
nominees for Prosecutor General. The Uribe Administration haD asked
Inspector General Alejandro Ordonez to find a solution with the
Court. Ordonez worked out a deal whereby the Court would accept
the list if Juan Angel Palacio's name was pulled and replaced by
former magistrate Gomez Gallego. When Ordonez presented this
solution to Uribe, the President said he would not abandon his
candidate Camilo Ospina and replaced Palacio with State Counselor
Marco Antonio Velilla Moreno instead (Note: Lawyer Virginia Uribe
is the third candidate on the list. End Note.). The Court
promptly rejected Velilla for his lack of penal experience. This
rejection of the compromise he had been asked to work out angered
Ordonez. XXXXXXXXXXXX thought a long term solution to
Colombia's judiciary woes might be to split the MOIJ into two
ministries -- Interior and Justice -- but that was unlikely before the
May 2010 presidential elections. XXXXXXXXXXXX planned to tell
Uribe that the only way he saw to resolve the Prosecutor General
issue in the near term was for Valencia to resign, with an understanding
that the Supreme Court would then select one of the three nominees on the list.
DAS WIRETAPS INVESTIGATIONS
---------------------------
7. (S/NF) The Ambassador inquired as to the state of the
investigations into the illegal wiretaps by the Administrative Department of Security (DAS). XXXXXXXXXXXX said CN investigators had developed cases that should allow prosecutors to arrest and prosecute the suspects (ref C). However, he feared that the prosecutors assigned to the Supreme Court were new and that the supervisory Court magistrate was determined to make a case against a senior official in the Presidential Palace. Lead prosecutor Maria Consuelo Rincon opposed any prosecution until the investigators had reached the intellectual author. The CNP had delivered its investigatory results to the prosecutors with formal recommendation to proceed with arrests and prosecutions, in an attempt to force a decision by the prosecutors. XXXXXXXXXXXX expected a positive response next week. He acknowledged that there are probably more senior people involved in the illegal wiretaps, but arrests and prosecutions had to begin in order to force the lower level suspects to talk.
SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST NARANJO
------------------------------
8. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX said Baruch Vega, a drug trafficker
who had served time in the United States and now resided in Miami,
was conspiring with Don Mario and other extradited United Self-
Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitaries to build a false
case against him. He said that a number of his officers had reported
being approached by these individuals seeking dirt on XXXXXXXXXXXX. He thought some smear was inevitable, and said he would share the information he had with U.S. law enforcement.
COMMENT
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9. (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX is now the second most popular person
in Colombia and perhaps the smartest, best informed member of the GOC. His views and observations are usually worth serious consideration. End Comment. BROWNFIELD
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