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Cablegate: Representative Mcgovern Meets with President Uribe

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DE RUEHBO #1809/01 0791952
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201952Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3455
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 8792
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR LIMA 4871
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5512
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3906

UNCLAS BOGOTA 001809

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR H, PLEASE PASS TO CONGRESSMAN MCGOVERN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM ELAM PTER PREL CO
SUBJECT: REPRESENTATIVE MCGOVERN MEETS WITH PRESIDENT URIBE


Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for Internet Distribution

SUMMARY
=======

1. (SBU) In a March 2nd meeting with Representative James
McGovern, President Uribe reviewed progress in the
investigation into the high-profile killing of a victims
representative in January. Uribe highlighted the importance
of a transparent Justice and Peace Law Process, explaining it
was crucial in ensuring victims' access to truth, justice,
and reparations. He defended his strong reaction against
opposition critics, but said he would exercise more restraint
in the future. McGovern said he would prefer more social aid
in U.S. assistance for Colombia, but stressed he did not
intend to call for cuts in overall assistance levels. End
Summary.

2. (SU) On March 2nd, Representative James McGovern (D-MA),
Legislative Director Cindy Buhl, Program Director for the
Center for International Policy Adam Issacson, Charge
d'Affairs Milt Drucker, and Political Officer Kevin Murakami
(notetaker) met with President Alvaro Uribe for an hour.
Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Fernando Araujo, Minister
of Agriculture Andres Felipe Arias, Minister of Mines Hernan
Martinez, Presidential Communications Advisor Jorge Eastman,
International Relations Director for Accion Social Diego
Molano, MFA America Desk Officer Patricia Cortes, and Luis
Araujo of the Colombian Embassy to the United States also
attended.

PROGRESS IN YOLANDA IZQUIERDO'S MURDER CASE
===========================================

3. (SBU) Asked about protection of victims participating in
the Justice and Peace Law (JPL) process, Uribe telephoned
General Naranjo, chief of the Judicial Police (DIJIN), who
explained the police had captured the material author in the
murder of victims' representative Yolanda Izquierdo. Naranjo
said the investigation was 80 percent complete; he expected
to arrest soon the intellectual author and her intermediary.
Uribe said after the killing, he had announced a 100 million
peso reward and ordered the seizure of all paramilitary
assets. Uribe noted he had made the decision to seize these
assets two weeks before the Izquierdo murder, but Eduardo
Pizarro, head of the National Reparations Commission, had
advised him to postpone the action to give the
ex-paramilitary chiefs the chance to surrender their assets
voluntarily. Uribe reiterated his determination that the
paramilitaries hand over all their assets, "voluntarily or
through force."

URIBE DEFENDS DEMOBILIZATION, JUSTICE AND PEACE PROCESS
============================================= ==========

4. (SBU) Uribe said a transparent JPL process was crucial in
assuring victims' access to truth, justice, and reparations.
For example, Uribe wanted the voluntary confessions (version
libre) of ex-para chiefs to be broadcast. "We need to know
the truth," he said. Uribe said he was surprised that some
of his political supporters had paramilitary links, but
stressed the need for the JPL process to uncover all such
relationships, regardless of office or status.

5. (SBU) Uribe said his Democratic Security Policy led to the
demobilization process. GOC security forces had killed 1,700
paramilitaries since he took office; this pressure had led to
the voluntary paramilitary demobilization. McGovern
expressed his concern over ex-paramilitaries forming new
criminal groups. Uribe reiterated the GOC's commitment to
combat this problem. He estimated there were approximately
1,600 ex-paramilitaries trying to rearm, with about 50
mid-level leaders involved. In addition, Uribe said four
major paramilitary chiefs were still at large. He had
appointed a special task force to pursue the newly emerging
groups and the fugitive para chiefs. "The army and police
have their orders," Uribe said, "And that order is to arrest
or kill them."

URIBE ON OPPOSITION: "I'LL TRY TO RESTRAIN MYSELF"
============================================= =====

6. (SBU) McGovern raised complaints by human rights groups
over Uribe's public criticism of human rights groups and
political opposition leaders. Uribe defended his statements
against some members of the Polo Democratico Alternativo
(POLO), but said he would try to restrain himself in the
future. He explained his remark that certain politicians had
gone from being "terrorists wearing camouflage to wearing
business suits" was made only after POLO opposition leader
Senator Gustavo Petro had publicly accused Uribe's brother of
being a paramilitary. "My critics attack me as the fascist,
paramilitary president," Uribe stated, "but I cannot tolerate
such unfounded attacks against my family." Uribe also noted
that Petro was a member of the guerrilla group M-19, and that
neither Petro nor any other M-19 member had undergone a JPL
process-like confession. The JPL process was far tougher
than the process through which the M-19 and the EPL had
demobilized.

URIBE TOUTS ACHIEVEMENTS OF DEMOCRATIC SECURITY POLICY...
============================================= ============

7. (SBU) Uribe said his democratic security policy benefited
all Colombians. When he took office, there were 68 killings
for every 100,000 persons; today, the number is down to 38.
He had ordered the military and police to provide equal
protection to both his supporters and opponents. Uribe
emphasized his commitment to protect trade unionists,
mentioning he meets with the three heads of the trade
confederations on a monthly basis. He said the number of
trade unionists homicides had fallen by over half since he
took office. Still, Uribe lamented that the murder of a
single trade unionist was one too many.

...AND PLUGS SOCIO-ECONOMIC PROGRESS
====================================

8. (SBU) Uribe touched on socio-economic programs under his
government. He highlighted the recent 6.3 percent minimum
wage increase - the third to take place since he took office
- and noted that collective bargaining negotiations had
resulted in an average 8 percent salary increase. He
explained Colombia has one of the highest rates of vocational
training in Latin America, and that Colombians enjoy full
health coverage. He said 5 million families receive
micro-credits, and beginning in August, 1.5 million families
will receive a bi-monthly subsidy to assist in education
costs. Uribe emphasized the importance of the FTA in
ensuring continued economic growth.

ELN PEACE PROCESS
=================

9. (SBU) Uribe said High Commissioner for Peace Luis Carlos
Restrepo had just returned from peace talks with the ELN in
Cuba. He described Restrepo as "pessimistic" over the talks'
prospects for success. Uribe said ELN members should be
subject to the same standards paramilitaries were facing
under the JPL process, but stated the ELN had rejected these
terms as "too harsh." Uribe said Cuba had been "helpful" in
facilitating the talks.

MCGOVERN AND URIBE DISCUSS U.S. ASSISTANCE
==========================================

10. (SBU) McGovern expressed his preference to redistribute
U.S. assistance to Colombia, with less aid going to the
military and more towards social initiatives. Still, he
emphasized that Congressional Democrats had never discussed
cutting the amount of aid for Colombia. McGovern said he
opposed aerial fumigation, but doubted the Congress would end
the spray program. He said the State Department should
withhold human rights certification of military aid.

11. (U) Representative McGovern did not clear this message.
Drucker

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