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Cablegate: As Colombia Mourns, Farc Offers to Return Hostage

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DE RUEHBO #4741 1802147
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P 292147Z JUN 07
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RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9127
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UNCLAS BOGOTA 004741

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREF PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: AS COLOMBIA MOURNS, FARC OFFERS TO RETURN HOSTAGE
REMAINS

REF: BOGOTA 4716

1. On June 29, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(FARC) spokesman Raul Reyes issued a communique addressed to
Fabiola Perdomo, widow of one of the murdered legislators,
and to Alvaro Leyva, a long-term advocate of a humanitarian
exchange, confirming the June 18 deaths of the eleven state
assemblymen from Valle de Cauca taken hostage in 2002
(reftel). Reyes said the FARC would attempt to return the
remains of the hostages when security conditions permit. He
did not specify the location of the cadavers citing security
concerns. The communique did not provide additional details
of the circumstances surrounding the killings. The
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) issued a
statement offering to help with the recovery of the bodies,
but a local ICRC official told us the FARC has not asked for
their help to date.

2. President Alvaro Uribe traveled to Cali the evening of
June 28 to meet with the families of the assassinated
hostages. Uribe arrived at the home of Fabiola Perdomo,
widow of one of the hostages, to applause and cheers of
support from Perdomo's south Cali neighbors. Presidential
advisor Jose Obdulio Gavaria told us the meeting was
emotional, but effective in addressing the families'
concerns.

3. Colombians from across the political spectrum condemned
the FARC assassinations and voiced outrage at the FARC excuse
the hostages were killed in a crossfire. "El Tiempo" called
the massacre, "one of the worst tragedies in the history of
kidnapping." Carlos Gaviria, leader of the leftist Polo
Democratico Party, said the FARC's crossfire claim was
"unbelievable and shameful."

4. In recent months the FARC has been engaged in sporadic
combat with narcotraffickers, the National Liberation Army
(ELN), and other illegal armed groups (including some
ex-paramilitaries) in southwest Colombia over control of
lucrative drug trafficking routes toward the Pacific and
Colombia's main port of Buenaventura. Some observers
speculate the hostages may have been assassinated during a
FARC confrontation with an illegal armed group.
Drucker

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