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Viewing cable 07BOGOTA8384, PRESIDENT URIBE SPEAKS TO REID DELEGATION ON TPA,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07BOGOTA8384 2007-12-06 20:08 2010-12-10 21:09 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Bogota
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #8384/01 3402014
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 062014Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0403
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7927
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9629
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC 9096
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5685
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 0950
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1152
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6373
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJC/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
UNCLAS BOGOTA 008384

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PREF PTER PHUM PGOV KJUS VE CO
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT URIBE SPEAKS TO REID DELEGATION ON TPA,
LABOR, AND CHAVEZ

REF: BOGOTA 008224

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) During a November 28 meeting with the U.S.
Congressional Delegation led by Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid, President Alvaro Uribe outlined Plan Colombia's
accomplishments and stressed the importance of continued U.S.
support. Uribe said passage of the U.S.- Colombia Trade
Promotion Agreement (TPA) would attract vital investment to
Colombia and show U.S. political support for its best ally in
the region. Uribe said his recent dispute with Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez occurred because Chavez violated
Colombia's institutional hierarchy by directly contacting
Colombian Army Commander Mario Montoya. Uribe claimed that
Chavez had expansionist plans for his model of "new
socialism," and likened the threat Chavez poses to Latin
America to that posed by Hitler in Europe. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Participants:

UNITED STATES

Ambassador William R. Brownfield
Senator Harry Reid, Majority Leader, D-NV
Senator Thad Cochran, R-MS
Senator Jeff Bingaman, D-NM
Senator Byron Dorgan, D-ND
Senator Mike Crapo, R-ID
Senator Robert Menendez, D-NJ
Senator Kent Conrad, D-ND
Mike Castellano
Anna Gallagher
Marcel Lettre
Federico De Jesus
Serena Hoy
Col. Mike Barbero
Deputy Political Counselor, Julie Chung
Adam Lenert, POL (note-taker)

COLOMBIA

President Alvaro Uribe
Vice Minister of Foreign Relations, Adriana Mejia
Vice Minister of Defense, Juan Carlos Pinzon
Minister of Trade, Luis Guillermo Plata
Ambassador to the U.S., Carolina Barco
Director of National Planning, Carolina Renteria
Vice Minister of Labor, Andres Palacios
High Commissioner for Reintegration, Frank Pearl
High Commissioner for Accion Social, Luis Alfonso Hoyos
Ministry of Foreign Affairs North Americas Desk, Patricia
Cortes


-------------------------------------
CONTINUED PLAN COLOMBIA SUPPORT VITAL
-------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Asked by Senator Menendez if the time had arrived to
shift U.S. assistance from traditional Plan Colombia programs
towards alternative development and justice-sector projects,
Uribe said that Colombia had done much under Plan Colombia,
but more remains to accomplish. The GOC controlled only fifty
percent of its territory in 2000, but now maintains a
presence in every municipality. Spraying and manual
eradication programs supported by the U.S. would destroy over
200,000 hectares of coca in 2007. Uribe said to maintain
security and continue the fight against narco-trafficking,
the U.S. must continue its vital support.

--------------------------------------------- -------
GOC INVESTING IN JUSTICE AND ALTERNATIVE DEVELOPMENT
--------------------------------------------- -------

4. (U) Uribe said his government had committed to justice
programs and alternative development. He explained how the
GOC had passed important judicial reforms and almost doubled

the budget for the justice system over the past four years.
He noted that Colombia began producing biofuel, and expanded
coffee production by over one million bags over the last five
years. Uribe reminded the Senators of the difficulty of
alternative development in a country with over 50 percent
jungle terrain (578,000 square kilometers). He explained that
the GOC's Forest Families program works to secure the jungle
by employing rural families to patrol and report illicit
activity.

-------------------------------
EXTRADITIONS ARE NON-NEGOTIABLE
-------------------------------

5. (SBU) Uribe explained that after he met with families of
hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(FARC) and spoke with French officials about the release of
French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt, he dropped his
original position that he would not discuss a humanitarian
exchange with the FARC unless it coincided with a broader
peace process. Despite pressure from Chavez and others, he
had insisted that any humanitarian exchange include the three
American hostages. In contrast, the GOC would not support the
inclusion of extradited FARC members in the U.S. He
explained that Colombia had extradited over 650 criminals to
the U.S. to date, a level of cooperation with U.S. justice
unprecedented anywhere else in the world. "For us,
extradition is a policy that is non-negotiable," he stated.

---------------------------------------
TPA WILL BRING INVESTMENT, SHOW SUPPORT
---------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Senator Crapo asked for Uribe's views on the TPA and
labor unionists' concerns. The President said the TPA was
economically important for his country, because it would help
Colombia attract foreign investment. He said the TPA would
probably not have a large immediate impact in increasing
Colombian exports to the U.S., but with increased foreign
investment, their export sectors could develop to be more
competitive in U.S. markets. Uribe said the TPA was also
important for political reasons, since it would show U.S.
support for its best ally in the region. "I don't know how I
could explain to my nation and the international community
why the best friend of the U.S. was not granted a TPA," he
said.

7. (SBU) Uribe said his government had made great efforts at
improving the situation of labor unionists. In the past, 256
unionists were killed in a single year. In 2007, 30
unionists had been killed to date, and investigations and
prosecutions were underway. Since 2002, the Prosecutor
General's Office has prosecuted 56 cases of labor violence,
sending 118 people to prison. In the majority of cases,
Uribe said, the killer was not linked to the unionists'
employers, but rather to terrorist groups that suspected the
union members were helping rival gangs. The GOC has
protected over 6,000 people in 2007, at a cost of nearly USD
40 million, including over 1200 unionists. Uribe said there

were many private sector unions that disagreed with the large
labor confederations' criticism of the TPA. He held regular
lunches with the large labor confederations to discuss labor
issues, but noted that they would never accept the TPA due to
their ideological opposition to free trade and the United
States.

------------------------------------
URIBE: CHAVEZ POSES THREAT TO REGION
------------------------------------

8. (SBU) Asked by Senator Conrad to comment on President
Chavez, Uribe said he prefers to be prudent in statements
about the leader of this significant trading partner. He had
authorized opposition Senator Piedad Cordoba and Chavez to
facilitate talks with the FARC on a humanitarian accord after
the families of the hostages implored him to do so. He
recognized this was taking a great political risk, but saw
Chavez as perhaps the only person respected enough by the
FARC's leaders to reach an agreement to release the hostages.


9. (SBU) Uribe then reviewed the events that led him to
suspend Cordoba's and Chavez' roles as facilitators. He said
that in an October 12 meeting, Chavez told him that he wanted
to meet with FARC leader Marulanda in Colombia. Uribe told
him this could only be done if the FARC released an initial
group of hostages, with a commitment to release the rest
later. The meeting would also have to be conducted at a
specific demilitarized point, not a general zone as proposed
by Chavez. To Uribe's surprise, Chavez publicly announced
in Paris that Uribe had given him approval to meet with
Marulanda in Colombia without mentioning any of the
conditions set in their prior meeting. Uribe saw this as a
violation of trust which put in question Chavez' reliability
as a facilitator.

10. (SBU) Uribe said the final factor that caused him to
terminate Chavez' mandate as a negotiator was Chavez' call to
Colombian Army Commander Montoya, despite Uribe's earlier
specific instructions not to contact his military officials.
Uribe stressed several times that this was "a violation of
our institutional hierarchy," explaining he had a duty to
defend democratic values. Uribe said Chavez was trying to
create a "personal empire," and had expansionist plans in the
region for his model of "new socialism." Chavez' model
violated democratic values such as freedom of the press,
local elections, and independence of the Central Bank. He
likened the threat Chavez poses to Latin America to that
posed by Hitler in Europe.

-----------------------------------------
URIBE SEEKS SUPPORT FROM OTHER PRESIDENTS
-----------------------------------------

11. (SBU) Uribe mentioned he would see Chavez in Ecuador on
November 29 at President Rafael Correa's inauguration
ceremony of the new constitutional assembly. He said it
would be a difficult trip, but a necessary one and he would
not leave the stage exclusively to Chavez. In recent weeks,
Uribe saw positive movements by Correa away from Chavez-type
radicalism, and he was not sure which way the Ecuadorian
leader would lean. Uribe said he also called several other
Latin American presidents to seek their support. Uribe said:
"I do not want to leave political space for Chavez alone."

12. (U) This cable has been cleared by Senator Reid.


Nichols