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Cablegate: March 13 Update: Colombia Dispute with Ecuador

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id: 145758
date: 3/13/2008 22:20
refid: 08BOGOTA996
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: SECRET
destination: 08BOGOTA996
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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 000996

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/13/2018
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREF PREL PTER OAS VZ SP FR SZ EC
CO
SUBJECT: MARCH 13 UPDATE: COLOMBIA DISPUTE WITH ECUADOR
VENEZUELA--AND NICARAGUA

Classified By: Political Counselor John S. Creamer
Reasons 1.4 (b) and d)

SUMMARY
-------

1. (C) The GOC used a March 10-12 visit to Colombia by OAS
SYG Insulza and the OAS Commission examining the March 1 GOC
attack against the FARC in Ecuador to provide a "frank and
detailed" briefing on the attack. Presidential advisor Jorge
Eastman told us Insulza seemed impressed by the GOC's
briefings, and voiced understanding of the GOC position. FM
Araujo told the Ambassador the OAS team had not been
"political or polemical." Still, Eastman expects Ecuador to
maintain a hard line against Colombia due to the positive
response President Correa's tough stance has generated in
Ecuador. The GOC wants to obtain Interpol verification of
the information on the Reyes computers before releasing any
new information on GOV/GOE connections to the FARC. (See
Septel for the GOC's plans for the March 17 OAS ministerial.)
END SUMMARY.


OAS SYG LOOKS FORWARD IN VISIT TO COLOMBIA
------------------------------------------

2. (U) OAS SYG Jose Miguel Insulza and a special OAS
Commission visited Colombia on March 10-12 to review details
of the March 1 GOC attack against FARC Secretariat member
Raul Reyes in Ecuador. Insulza told the media that the
Commission had a productive visit to Colombia, and intends to
use the March 17 ministerial meeting to propose solutions to
resolve the Ecuador-Colombia dispute.


OAS IMPRESSED BY FRANK GOC BRIEFING
-----------------------------------

3. (C) Presidential Communication Director Jorge Mario
Eastman accompanied Insulza and the OAS Commission to the
Colombia-Ecuador border on March 11 to review details of the
March 1 attack against the FARC. Eastman told us that strike
mission commander General Tito Pinilla provided the OAS team
a detailed briefing, including maps and a review of two
"Tucano" attack aircraft. Pinilla briefed GOC intelligence
reports indicating Reyes would enter Colombia; the GOC
originally planned to attack him in Colombian territory.
When the GOC later learned Reyes would remain in Ecuador,
President Uribe decided to attack him there. Pinilla
reviewed the range of the Tucano aircraft, showing how the
planes fired from Colombian airspace. He also explained that
Colombian military and police entered Ecuador to verify the
operation's results.

4. (S) Eastman said the OAS group--previously briefed by the
Ecuadorians--probed hard on whether there was USG involvement
in the attack. Some of the OAS members appeared influenced
by some Ecuadorians' claims that USG aircraft operating out
of the U.S. Cooperative Security Location (CSL) in Manta
carried out the operation. Eastman noted that after the OAS
group raised Ecuadorian claims that the GOC used
precision-guided bombs in the attack, the GOC conceded that
it had used GPS-guided bombs and A-37s in addition to the
Tucanos.

5. (C) Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo confirmed to the
Ambassador that the OAS mission was neither political nor
polemical. (Note: See Septel for details on the GOC approach
to the March 17 OAS ministerial.) Eastman said the OAS group
left Colombia impressed by the frank and open way in which
the GOC briefed them on the Reyes operation, and Insulza left
the impression that he personally understood and sympathized
with the GOC position. The GOC is confident Insulza will
look for a balanced formula.


IMPRESSIONS OF COMMISSION POSITIONS
-----------------------------------

6. (C) Eastman said the Brazilian ambassador voiced
understanding for Colombia's stance, but stressed that
respect for sovereignty and national borders are essential.
Peru's ambassador was not a strong voice, but the GOC expects

BOGOTA 00000996 002 OF 002


Peru to back the GOC. The Bahamas ambassador was impressed
by the physical distances and difficult terrain on the
border, but made only cautious comments. He speculated that
the Argentine ambassador would be the most critical of
Colombia's position.


ECUADOR MAINTAINS HARD-LINE
---------------------------

7. (C) Eastman conceded that Uribe's initial description of
events to President Rafael Correa was misleading, since Uribe
suggested that the operation started in Colombia and spilled
over into Ecuador. Still, the GOC thinks Correa subsequently
hardened his stance due to pressure from Venezuelan President
Chavez. The GOC fears Correa will continue his hard-line
stance, since Ecuadorian public opinion and media appears to
support his tough line. In contrast, Eastman said the GOC
paid for a poll in Venezuela in mid-January that showed
Venezuelans do not support Chavez' aggressive posture against
Colombia; this finding has not changed as a result of the
latest crisis.


GOC STRATEGY ON RELEASE OF REYES COMPUTER INFO
--------------------------------------------- -

8. (C) After the Rio Group meeting, Eastman said the GOC
decided not to publicly release further information from the
Reyes computers showing Ecuadorian and Venezuelan links to
the FARC. The GOC wants to get Interpol verification of the
computers before releasing any new information to the public.


Brownfield

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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