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Cablegate: Hostage Recovery Mission On Hold After Goc Says It

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P 022051Z JAN 08
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INFO RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN PRIORITY 1370
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7971
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9724
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RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6465
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RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEAWJC/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
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UNCLAS BOGOTA 000005

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREF PREL PTER VZ CO
SUBJECT: HOSTAGE RECOVERY MISSION ON HOLD AFTER GOC SAYS IT
MAY ALREADY HAVE YOUNG HOSTAGE EMMANUEL

REF: 07 BOGOTA 8723

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

1. The Venezuelan-led, international mission to recover
three FARC-held hostages was put on hold on December 31 after
President Uribe announced the GOC "hypothesis" -- backed by
extensive circumstantial evidence -- that the reason for the
FARC's delay in releasing the hostages was that the group did
not have Clara Rojas' son, Emmanuel, in their possession.
Uribe's comments followed Venezuelan President Chavez'
reading of a FARC statement blaming GOC military operations
for the delay. Uribe's bombshell led the international
observers accompanying the rescue mission to depart Colombia
and return home. The Colombian Prosecutor General's Office
(Fiscalia) is running DNA tests on the boy and the Rojas
family; the Fiscalia said the results should be ready in
10-15 days. In a January 1 speech, Chavez reiterated his
commitment to help achieve peace in Colombia. A local
Colombian columnist said the recent events confirm Colombia
is not a "serious country". End summary.


------------------------------------
FARC Accuses GOC of Blocking Mission
------------------------------------

2. On December 31, as representatives for the international
mission to recover FARC-held hostages Clara Rojas, her son
Emmanuel, and Consuelo Gonzales de Perdomo waited in
Villavicencio, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez read a
FARC-issued statement in Caracas blaming ongoing GOC military
operations for the delay in releasing the hostages. After
meeting with the international observers (informally led by
former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner accompanying the
rescue mission, President Alvaro Uribe publicly reiterated
GOC support for the mission and reviewed the GOC's guarantees
to allow it to move forward. Uribe called the FARC/Chavez
assertions lies, and confirmed that there had been no combat
in the area of likely release.

--------------------------------------------
Uribe "hypothesis": GOC already has Emmanuel
--------------------------------------------

3. Uribe also detailed a shocking GOC "hypothesis" that the
FARC had delayed the release because they did not have Rojas'
son, Emmanuel, in their possession; he said the boy may
already be in GOC custody. Uribe said a boy matching
Emmanuel's description, age, and other characteristics
detailed by escaped hostage Jhon Pinchao, was turned into
child welfare authorities in San Jose del Guaviare (near the
likely location of the hostages) on June 15, 2005. The boy,
identified as Juan David Gomez Tapiero, is in GOC-sponsored
foster care. He was treated for a broken arm, malnutrition,
and other ailments in 2005. The boy was turned in by a man
claiming to be an uncle.

4. The same "uncle" urgently attempted to re-claim the boy
from the GOC in late December, claiming to be the boy's
father--tipping off the GOC and leading to the investigation.
The man admitted that the boy was "a FARC child," was
cooperating with GOC authorities, and was moved to Bogota
under GOC protection. The GOC began DNA testing on the boy
and the Rojas family to confirm the hypothesis. Uribe said
he had informed Red Cross officials of the boy's possible
identity on December 29, but had intended to keep the
information private until after it had consulted with the
Rojas family. His public comments were prompted by the need
to respond to the FARC statement.

------------------------------
GOC Still Supports Mission,...
------------------------------

5. Despite Chavez statements blaming the GOC for the failure
of the mission, Uribe said the GOC would still support a
mission to recover the hostages, and he authorized Venezuelan
helicopters and International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC) officials to remain in Villavicencio on standby to
carry out the mission--if and when the FARC provides needed
coordinates. The GOC also publicly offered to establish a
"security corridor" to allow the FARC to move the hostages to
the recovery site. Chavez issued a statement from Caracas
wishing Uribe a happy new year, offering to forget about
previous tensions, and urging him to move forward for peace
in Colombia.

------------------------------
...But International Reps Gone
------------------------------

6. International representatives accompanying the ICRC
mission, including Kirchner, Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge
Taiana, Brazilian presidential advisor Marco Aurelio Garcia,
and filmmaker Oliver Stone, left Villavicencio on New Year's
eve after several frustrating days of waiting for coordinates
from the FARC. Kirchner and others issued statements saying
they would return if the mission proceeded, but the media
expressed skepticism that such a high-profile group would be
willing to reassemble and wait yet again for the FARC's
coordinates. A prominent local columnist in Bogota daily "El
Tiempo" lamented that the recent events confirm that Colombia
is not a "serious country."

Nichols

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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