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Cablegate: Codel Meeks Meets with Opposition Leaders

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DE RUEHBO #4615/01 1771735
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261735Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6590
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7605
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RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN LIMA 5185
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 0401
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5784
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3996
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEAWJC/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHOND/DIRONDCP WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
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UNCLAS BOGOTA 004615

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KJUS PGOV PINR PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: CODEL MEEKS MEETS WITH OPPOSITION LEADERS

1. (U) June 4, 2007; 300PM, U.S. Embassy

2. (U) Participants:

U.S.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY)
Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA)
Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH)
Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA)
Polcouns John Creamer
Pol officer (notetaker)

COLOMBIA

Former President and Liberal Party leader Cesar Gaviria
Polo Democratico leader Gustavo Petro
Polo Democratico Secretary General Daniel Garcia Pena
Polo Democratico Representative River Franklin Legro

-------
Summary
-------

3. (SBU) A bipartisan Congressional delegation led by
Representative Gregory Meeks meeting with opposition leaders
on June 4 led to a fruitful exchange of opinions on the
U.S.-Colombian Trade Promotion Act (CTPA), Plan Colombia, the
Justice and Peace Law, and the need for greater social
investment. End summary.

----
CTPA
----

4. (SBU) Former Colombian President and Liberal Party leader
Cesar Gaviria said the U.S. Congress should not
"discriminate" against Colombia by failing to pass the
U.S.-Colombian Trade Promotion Act (CTPA). Gaviria said the
United States has free trade agreements with Mexico, Central
America, and Chile and is soon to approve agreements with
Panama and Peru; it must not punish its strongest ally in the
region. Rep. Meeks agreed with Gaviria and said he supported
a free trade agreement with Colombia. Rep. Sanchez
disagreed, stating it was not about discrimination, it was
about making a stronger agreement that addressed gaps in the
current accord. Polo Democratico Senator Gustavo Petro said
the Agreement needed greater emphasis on protecting
Colombia's agricultural sector. He contended
narcotraffickers would be the biggest beneficiaries of the
agreement, because they would be able to buy or steal
productive land to the detriment of vulnerable populations.

-------------
Plan Colombia
-------------

5. (SBU) Petro said the U.S. anti-drug policy needed to be
more effective, asserting that Plan Colombia needed to
de-emphasize its military component and instead focus more on
underlying social causes of the drug trade and narco
corruption. He said more U.S. aid should be directed to the
Prosecutor General's Office, arguing that the key to ending
narcotrafficking in Colombia was to break the ties between
some politicians and narcotraffickers. Codel members agreed
Plan Colombia should have a greater "soft-side" emphasis.

---------------------
Justice and Peace Law
---------------------

6. (SBU) Gaviria criticized the Justice and Peace Law (JPL)
process and the GoC handling of the para-political scandal,
but said Colombian institutions would have to work with it.
Petro said the Justice and Peace Law provided an adequate
framework for dismantling paramilitary ties with politicians,
but reiterated that the Prosecutor General's Office and the
judiciary needed more resources to do their jobs. Polo
Secretary General Daniel Garcia Pena noted the Uribe

SIPDIS
administration takes credit for the truth emerging from the
JPL process, but said that without opposition pressure and
court-mandated changes the GOC's originally proposed JPL bill
would have maintained impunity. Rep. Schmidt agreed that the
solution to the problem was to increase resources for the
Prosecutor General's Office so it could do a more effective
job investigating and convicting suspected paramilitaries and
their supporters.

-----------------
Social Investment
-----------------

7. (SBU) Codel members also discussed the need for more
support for the Afro-Colombian community, land issues, and
social investment. Opposition leaders recognized the need
for greater attention to the Afro-Colombian and other
marginalized communities which suffer high rates of poverty.
Polo Democratico Representative River Franklin Legro praised
the recent appointment of an Afro-Colombian Minister, but
said discrimination against Afro-Colombians remains a serious
obstacle to progress. He said all Colombians needed to
become more aware of this humanitarian situation.

8. (U) House Western Hemisphere Subcommittee Staff cleared
this cable.
Drucker

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