Search

 

Cablegate: Representative Mcgovern Meets with Defense

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #1810/01 0791959
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201959Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3457
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 8794
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR LIMA 4873
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5514
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3908

UNCLAS BOGOTA 001810

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR H, PLEASE PASS TO CONGRESSMAN MCGOVERN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KJUS PMIL PHUM PTER PREL ELAB VE CO
SUBJECT: REPRESENTATIVE MCGOVERN MEETS WITH DEFENSE
MINISTER SANTOS

Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for Internet Distribution.

SUMMARY
=======

1. (SBU) Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos told
Representative James McGovern (D-MA) on March 4 that the
Justice and Peace Law was an example of security advances
under Uribe, but voiced concerns that revelations of
para-political ties would be viewed negatively by the U.S.
Congress. Santos explained security concerns on Venezuela
and Ecuador, but said Colombia would not be drawn into a
regional arms race. Santos also highlighted advances by the
military in human rights; McGovern stressed the need for U.S.
aid to be more focused on socio-economic initiatives and
institution-building. End Summary.


2. (SBU) On March 4, McGovern met with Minister of Defense
Juan Manuel Santos, Vice Minister of Defense Sergio
Jaramillo, and Vice Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzon.
Also attending the meeting were McGovern's Legislative
Director Cindy Buhl, Program Director for the Center for
International Policy Adam Issacon, Political Counselor John
Creamer, and Political Officer Kevin Murakami (notetaker).

MOD SANTOS PRAISES JUSTICE AND PEACE LAW
========================================

3. (SBU) Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos said the
Justice and Peace (J&P) Law process was an example of the
success of President Uribe's democratic security policy. As
recently as three years ago, public debate over whether or
not to televise the voluntary confessions (version libre) of
58 paramilitary leaders would have been "unthinkable."
Santos conceded the J&P Law was a controversial issue -
heavily discussed and criticized in Colombia's Congress. He
rejected criticism that the law was too lenient, stressing
that paramilitary chiefs entered the process voluntarily. He
added that ELN members had rejected the J&P demobilization
terms as too harsh.

PARA-POLITICO SCANDAL
=====================

4. (SBU) Santos said recent revelations of politicians' and
legislators' ties to paramilitaries were proof that
democratic institutions were working. He said the magnitude
of these revelations was due to Uribe's policies, not in
spite of them. Santos pointed out that although most of the
politicians currently accused of paramilitary ties were Uribe
supporters, the President consistently called for the
harshest application of the law against them. Santos said
para-political ties must continue to be revealed, regardless
of who is implicated, but worried the U.S. Congress would
negatively perceive what the Colombian government considered
a "traumatic, but necessary" step in the demobilization
process.

MOD COMMITTED TO FIGHTING NEWLY EMERGING CRIMINAL GROUPS
============================================= ===========

5. (SBU) Santos expressed concern over ex-paramilitaries'
participation in emerging criminal groups, estimating there
were 26 such bands. He said fighting them was a top
priority. Military and police forces had captured 970
members of these criminal groups and killed 130. Santos
receives OAS reports on paramilitary recidivism and ties
between the military, police, and ex-paramilitaries. He
stressed his commitment to break such links, explaining he
had dismissed 15 police and military officers suspected of
collaborating with emerging criminal groups.

OTHER MOD ADVANCES ON HUMAN RIGHTS
==================================

6. (SBU) Santos said one of his key objectives as minister
was for human rights to become a "non-issue" with the
military. He had made significant progress toward this goal
by appointing a civilian to head the Military Penal Justice
System and assigning a legal adviser to review every combat
flight by the Colombian Air Force. He also emphasized that
any allegation of a human rights violation by military
personnel is investigated and prosecuted in civilian courts.

7. (SBU) Santos and Vice MOD Sergio Jaramillo highlighted
increased investment and a stronger climate of trust between
the military and local citizens in San Jose de Apartado peace
community. In one of the peace communities, Santos
explained, members were now allowing medical personnel to
enter to provide health services, whereas before they had
rejected all such services. McGovern recognized these
advances as positive steps. Santos said the GOC would boost
the police by 20,000 and the military by 18,000 over the next
four years to improve security in areas where human rights
violations by the FARC and ELN regularly occur.


CONCERNS OVER VENEZUELA AND ECUADOR
===================================

8. (SBU) Santos said he was concerned with developments in
Venezuela, but acknowledged the GOC would have to tread
carefully with President Chavez. He was worried about
drug-trafficking routes and cocaine processing labs in
Venezuela, as well as Chavez's arms build up. He said Chavez
was also financing "extremist" political movements in
Colombia. Vice MOD Sergio Jaramillo said Chavez was
encouraging strikes by trade unions and providing them
financial backing, especially in Tolima and Valle de Cauca
Departments. Jaramillo also said Chavez was financing the
radical arm of the CRIC, one of Colombia's largest Indigenous
umbrella groups. Still, Santos stressed the importance of
not confronting Chavez. Santos said, "We depend a lot on
trade with Venezuela," He also stressed that "Colombia would
not be drawn into a regional arms race." Santos said Ecuador
was portraying Colombia as its primary external threat. He
explained that President Correa, in casting Colombia as a
threat, was replicating Venezuela's approach to the United
States.


DEBATE ON PLAN COLOMBIA
=======================

9. (SBU) McGovern said Plan Colombia should include more
emphasis on socio-economic development and institution
building, and suggested there would be increased debate over
the merits of military assistance in the new U.S. Congress.
He had just visited a community of Internally Displaced
Persons (IDPs) and said little had changed since his last
visit there in 2003. He recounted hearing the same
complaints of chronic poverty, lack of basic services, and
presence of illegal armed actors. Left unattended, McGovern
asserted, the IDP problem could quickly become a security
one. The MOD and his vice ministers agreed on the importance
of providing social services and building institutions. This
was the goal of the military's "clear and hold" strategy of
first eliminating illegal armed groups and illicit crops, so
that democratic institutions could flourish safely.

FTA
===

10. (SBU) Santos stressed the importance of both Plan
Colombia and the FTA to ensure economic growth and strengthen
democracy. McGovern said the FTA would be subject to a
"rough" debate in the U.S. Congress, but said he did not
believe U.S.-Colombian relations hinged on ratification of
the FTA.

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

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN Rights Office On Syria: The “Monstrous Annihilation” Of Eastern Ghouta

Since the Syrian Government and their allies escalated their offensive against opposition-held Eastern Ghouta on 4 February, there have been more than 1,200 civilian casualties, including at least 346 killed and 878 injured, mostly in airstrikes hitting residential areas... Ninety-two of these civilian deaths allegedly occurred in just one 13-hour period on Monday. More>>

ALSO:

Cyclone Gita: 70% Of Tonga Population Affected

The full scale of destruction is beginning to emerge from Tonga in the aftermath of the severe tropical cyclone Gita. Around 50,000 people, or almost 70% of the country’s population, have been affected, a third of whom are children. More>>

ALSO:


Gita: Samoas Clean Up After Being Swamped By Cyclone

Apia in the wake of Gita Photo: Rudy Bartley The clean up is continuing in the two Samoas after Tropical Cyclone Gita hit on Saturday morning. More>>

ALSO:

Grand Coalition : Germany's two main political parties set to govern under Angela Merkel.

The liberal-conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) negotiated through the night in a marathon final push to nail down an agreement. More>>


80 Passengers: Kiribati Ferry Disaster

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are working with the Government of Kiribati to support children, families and communities affected by the recent Butiraoi ferry disaster. More>>

ALSO:

Campbell On: the US demonising of Iran

Satan may not exist, but the Evil One has always been a handy tool for priests and politicians alike. Currently, Iran is the latest bogey conjured up by Washington to (a) justify its foreign policy interventions and (b) distract attention from its foreign policy failures. More

ALSO: