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Viewing cable 08BOGOTA1391, ARMED FORCES COMMANDER PADILLA ON FARC, HOSTAGES,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08BOGOTA1391 2008-04-14 22:10 2010-12-08 21:09 SECRET Embassy Bogota
VZCZCXYZ0002
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #1391/01 1052258
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 142258Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2376
INFO RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN PRIORITY 1442
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0247
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ APR 9372
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 6100
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 0207
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 1495
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1283
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6752
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4370
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNDTA/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1910
S E C R E T BOGOTA 001391

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/14/2018
TAGS: PGOV PINR CO
SUBJECT: ARMED FORCES COMMANDER PADILLA ON FARC, HOSTAGES,
PALANQUERO, REGIONAL RELATIONS, AND HUMAN RIGHTS

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

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

1. (S) Colombian Armed Forces Commander Padilla stressed to
the Ambassador on April 4 that the GOC would do all it could
to support the French humanitarian operation seeking Ingrid
Betancourt's release, though he doubted its prospects for
success. Padilla said GOC continued its efforts to locate
all of the hostages, including the three Americans. He also
asked for continued USG assistance and intelligence sharing
on U.S. hostages, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Padilla reiterated
President Uribe's request for an agreement on a Cooperative
Security Location (CSL) in Palanquero this year. The Armed
Forces Commander said he remains committed to removing
military personnel believed to be involved in criminal
activity or human rights violations. END SUMMARY,

-----------------------------
FRENCH HUMANITARIAN OPERATION
-----------------------------

2. (C) General Padilla told the Ambassador on April 4 that
earlier that day he had met with the French, Spanish and
Swiss ambassadors to discuss the French humanitarian
initiative on Ingrid Betancourt. (Note: The French
Government dispatched an air ambulance to Colombia earlier
that week to provide emergency medical attention to
Betancourt. It remained parked at Bogota's air base since
arrival.) Padilla saw almost no chance that the French would
gain access to Betancourt, but said that the GOC was doing
everything it could to assist the GOF to ensure it could not
be blamed for the operation's failure. The GOC agreed to let
the GOF base planes in Colombia, fly wherever they wanted,
suspend military operations in areas to which the GOF wanted
to travel, and to assist in any other way necessary to
facilitate a Betancourt release by the Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia (FARC). He said the GOC would oppose the
use of Venezuelan helicopters or involvement of Venezuelan
President Chavez in the operation, and would offer the French
the use of GOC helicopters if needed. Padilla said "the best
thing about this operation to date is that the FARC is the
one being blamed for intransigence."

-----------------------
U.S. HOSTAGE OPERATIONS
-----------------------

3. (S) Padilla underscored to the Ambassador that the GOC
continues to work toward the freedom of all of the FARC held
hostages. The Colombian military is still working to locate
the U.S. hostages with special operations forces deployed in
the south. If located the COLMIL stands ready to assist in
negotiating the release or cooperating on the rescue of the
three U.S. hostages held by the FARC in close coordination
with the USG. The Ambassador assured Padilla that the USG
will give the highest priority possible to providing
intelligence assets for ongoing efforts to locate the
hostages. Padilla agreed a USG-GOC "lessons learned"
exercise on hostage issues would be useful and could be done
at the end of April at the SOUTHCOM-Defense Minister level.

--------------------------------
ESTABLISHING A CSL IN PALANQUERO
--------------------------------

4. (C) Padilla reminded the Ambassador that on April 1
President Uribe had stressed his desire to conclude an
agreement for a CSL at Palanquero in 2008. Padilla said the
GOC understood that announcing a CSL at Palanquero would
provoke a reaction from the Venezuelans and Ecuadorians. The
GOC would never say so publicly, but that was what the GOC
was looking for. Padilla said Uribe's support meant the GOC
would rapidly respond to a USG request on Palanquero. The
GOC did not expect Palanquero to be operational in 2008, but
wanted an agreement concluded. Padilla told the Ambassador

he would call the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as
well as the U.S. SOUTHCOM Commander on the issue.

---------------------
VENEZUELA AND ECUADOR
---------------------

5. (C) Padilla said that from a military perspective, he was
satisfied with the way the recent border dust up with
Venezuela and Ecuador played out. The Colombian military saw
that the Venezuelan Armed Forces were considerably weaker
than they had believed. In contrast, the Ecuadorian military
showed it was a much more professional, if smaller, force
than its Venezuelan counterparts. Padilla acknowledged that
the Colombian military needed to reestablish its bilateral
relations with the Ecuadorians, but said this would take
time. He again asked for continued intelligence exchange on
Venezuela, and also sought any additional intelligence the
USG could provide on Ecuador. The Ambassador committed to
looking into the matter, but reminded Padilla both countries
benefited by keeping the intelligence relationship quiet.
Padilla agreed.

--------------------------------------------- -------
HUMAN RIGHTS AND CORRUPTION PROBLEMS IN THE MILITARY
--------------------------------------------- -------

6. (C) Padilla said he remains committed to removing military
personnel believed to be involved in improper criminal
activity or human rights violations, even if there is
insufficient evidence to bring legal action against them. He
asked if the USG could help the GOC identify such
individuals. The Ambassador said we shared Padilla's
concern, but did not want to substitute ourselves for the
Colombian legal process or to undercut Colombian
institutions' capacity-- and responsibility--to police
themselves. He promised to get back to Padilla on the human
rights issue.
BROWNFIELD