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Viewing cable 07BOGOTA8306, GOC PEACE COMMISSIONER EXPLAINS SUSPENSION OF

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07BOGOTA8306 2007-11-30 23:11 2010-12-08 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #8306/01 3342356
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 302356Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0337
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA IMMEDIATE 7923
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES IMMEDIATE 2105
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS IMMEDIATE 9594
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC 9085
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA IMMEDIATE 5670
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO IMMEDIATE 2924
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS IMMEDIATE 1147
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO IMMEDIATE 6361
RUEHSJ/AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE IMMEDIATE 4665
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL IMMEDIATE 4189
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0338
C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 008306

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/30/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL PTER MARR AR BR CS EC FR UY
VE, CO
SUBJECT: GOC PEACE COMMISSIONER EXPLAINS SUSPENSION OF
CHAVEZ FACILITATION EFFORT, REVIEWS OUTREACH TO FRENCH

Classified By: Ambassador William R. Brownfield
Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

---------
SUMMARY
-------
1. (C) GOC Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo told the
Ambassador that Venezuelan President Chavez' repeated
violation of the rules set by President Uribe for Hugo
Chavez' effort to promote a humanitarian accord with the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) had forced
Uribe to suspend Chavez' involvement. He conceded the GOC has
paid a political cost for its decision, but said delay would
have resulted in an even higher political price. Uribe has
reached out to key Latin American presidents who have shown
no desire to become involved in the issue. Restrepo said the
GOC recognizes that France remains &obsessed8 with
obtaining proof of life for Ingrid Betancourt and prefers to
keep the French engaged with the GOC on ways to obtain the
hostages' release. He spoke with French National Security
Advisor Levitte on November 28, and the two agreed to work
together to achieve the hostages' release. Restrepo noted
that the GOC has already said it would welcome a unilateral
FARC hostage release and would also provide legal benefits to
any FARC member who freed some of the group's kidnap victims.
END SUMMARY.

2. (C) GOC Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo told the
Ambassador November 29 that the GOC did not seek the problems
with Chavez over a humanitarian accord, but that Chavez had
forced the GOC to act by repeatedly violating the rules set
by President Uribe for Chavez, facilitation effort. Chavez
had revealed confidential presidential conversations to the
press, violated Colombia's "institutional hierarchy" by
speaking directly to Colombian Army Commander Mario Montoya,
and tried to marginalize the GOC by planning a meeting with a
range of Colombian political figures, such as former
President Ernesto Samper, in Caracas.

3. (C) Restrepo said that the Caracas meeting formed part of
a plan by Senator Piedad Cordoba and Chavez to create a type
of "alternative" or transitional Colombian government. He
acknowledged that the GOC has paid a political cost for
suspending Chavez, facilitation role, but said such a
development was inevitable. Restrepo compared Chavez to the
FARC and other illegal armed group negotiators who constantly
test the GOC limits. If the GOC had not pushed back, Chavez
would have continued to assume a larger and large role. The
GOC ended Chavez' role now to avoid paying a higher political
cost later.

-------------------------------------
SHAPING DOMESTIC AND REGIONAL OPINION
-------------------------------------

4. (C) Restrepo said that the GOC is trying to shape domestic
and regional opinion to support its decision to suspend
Chavez' facilitation effort. The GOC has explained that
Chavez and Cordoba had made little concrete progress, noting
that other countries had taken steps to advance the process
but that the FARC had done nothing. Moreover, the breakdown
of the process reflected the debate in Latin America over two
different models of democracy. Chavez favors an
authoritarian, statist model while Uribe advocates a
representational democracy rooted in civil liberties, open
markets, and independent institutions.

5. (C) He said Uribe had reached out to other Latin
leaders*including Brazilian President Lula da Silva, Costa
Rican President Oscar Arias, Peruvian President Alan Garcia,
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, Uruguayan President
Tabare Vazquez, and Argentine president-elect Cristina
Kirchner*to explain his stance. At Correa's urging, he will
attend the ceremony inaugurating Ecuador's constituent
assembly. None of the leaders had voiced a desire to become
involved in the issue.

------------------------
MANAGING FRENCH CONCERNS

------------------------

6. (C) Restrepo said the GOC recognizes that the French are
"obsessed" with obtaining the FARC's release of
French-Colombian dual national Ingrid Betancourt and that it
needs to manage French concerns in a constructive fashion.
French President Sarkozy had sent Uribe a letter on November
22-the day after the suspension announcement--urging him to
extend Chavez' role until December 31. Uribe had responded
immediately on November 23, publicly stating that the GOC
would welcome a unilateral FARC hand-over of proof of life or
of Ingrid to Chavez. Restrepo said the GOC wants to keep the
French engaged with the GOC on ways to obtain the hostages'
release. Through the French, the GOC would also control the
efforts of the Swiss and Spanish to achieve a humanitarian
accord. Excluding the French would only encourage them to
pursue unilateral options.

7. (C) Restrepo said he spoke with French National Security
Advisor Levitte, whom he considers to be a pragmatic,
credible interlocutor, on November 28 to discuss a possible
Uribe-Sarkozy phone call on November 29. Levitte said Uribe's
decision to suspend Chavez' facilitation effort had surprised
the French, creating a perception of failure. Sarkozy
considered himself a friend of Uribe and Colombia, but faced
substantial domestic pressure to produce results such as
proof of life for Ingrid. The GOC and GOF need to work
together to obtain the hostages' freedom.

8. (C) Restrepo told Levitte the GOC remains committed to
obtaining the hostages' release. The GOC has already stated
that it would not stand in the way of unilateral FARC actions
leading to the hostages' release and has also voiced its
willingness to extend legal benefits, such as suspended
sentences or reduced jail time under the Justice and Peace
Law, to any FARC front commanders or other leaders who free
some hostages. Such benefits would apply to the release of
any of the 45 hostages being considered under the
humanitarian accord, as well as the hundreds of "economic"
victims held by the group. Restrepo added that the GOC
remained interested in discussing a humanitarian accord with
the FARC, but that any future effort should be discreet with
limited international facilitation.

9. (C) Levitte agreed to defer a Sarkozy-Uribe call until the
week of December 3 to give the GOC time to develop possible
mechanisms to obtain the hostages' release. Restrepo said he
had also urged Levitte to serve as his contact on this issue,
observing that it is important to reduce the role of the
French Foreign Ministry. Restrepo said Inter-American
Development Bank President and former Colombian Ambassador to
Washington Luis Alberto Moreno is in Paris and would reach
out to Levitte to brief him in greater detail on the reasons
behind the GOC's decision to suspend Chavez' role.

10. (C) Asked by the Ambassador if a joint French-USG
demarche would be useful, Restrepo said such a message would
be harmful at this time. It would generate false expectations
and put additional pressure on the GOC. The GOC believes it
currently works well with the French. Restrepo said that if
he needs USG help in dealing with the French in the future,
he will not hesitate to ask.

--------------------------------------------- --------------
GOC WOULD EMBRACE FARC PROVISION OF PROOF OF LIFE TO CHAVEZ
--------------------------------------------- --------------

11. (C) Restrepo reiterated that if the FARC provides proof
of life to Chavez or Cordoba, the GOC will publicly embrace
such a move. (Note: On November 29, Colombian security forces
detained three FARC militia in Bogota who possessed five
video tapes, as well as letters, providing proof of life for
sixteen FARC hostages. These included Ingrid Betancourt and
the three U.S. citizens.) The Ambassador noted that if the
FARC gives Chavez proof of life, several U.S. Congressmen
might travel to Caracas to meet with the Venezuelan
President. Restrepo cautioned that this would not be useful
since it would inflate Chavez' importance and encourage him
to seek a renewed role in a humanitarian accord.

Brownfield