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Cablegate: Uruguayan Reactions to Farc Commander's Death

VZCZCXYZ0002
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMN #0134/01 0701627
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 101627Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8021
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 2654
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 4937
RUEHMU/AMEMBASSY MANAGUA PRIORITY 0130
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1948
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 3103

id: 145113
date: 3/10/2008 16:27
refid: 08MONTEVIDEO134
origin: Embassy Montevideo
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination:
header:
VZCZCXYZ0002
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMN #0134/01 0701627
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 101627Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8021
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 2654
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 4937
RUEHMU/AMEMBASSY MANAGUA PRIORITY 0130
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1948
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 3103


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C O N F I D E N T I A L MONTEVIDEO 000134

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

WHA/BSC FOR KBEAMER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/10/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER CO VE EC UY
SUBJECT: URUGUAYAN REACTIONS TO FARC COMMANDER'S DEATH


Classified By: Ambassador Frank E. Baxter
for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)

1. (C) SUMMARY: The GOU's balanced response to the killing
of FARC secretariat member Raul Reyes by Colombian forces
inside Ecuadorian territory was remarkable given the internal
and external pressures to side with Ecuador and Venezuela.
On March 3, the GOU issued a measured statement calling for
dialog among Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela to "resolve and
overcome their existing differences" and to return their
relations to normalcy, a comment that the Colombian
ambassador to Uruguay characterized to us as among the
region's most "balanced and civilized." Meanwhile, the
political arm of the ruling Frente Amplio (FA) party issued a
six-point declaration that included a "total rejection and
condemnation of the military incursion by the Colombian
government into Ecuador." Foreign Minister Fernandez told
the Ambassador last Thursday that he wanted Uruguay to become
more involved in a solution than in the conflict, in part to
restore Uruguay's international image after it had been
tarnished by his anti-U.S. predecessor. We do not know what
role Uruguay can play in the process since the Rio Group has
defused the crisis. Nevertheless, FM Fernandez's intention
to once again make Uruguayan diplomacy a force for good in
the world is a good development. The views of the resident
Ecuadorian and Colombian ambassadors are also useful for the
record. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On March 6, the Ambassador and DCM paid a courtesy
call on newly-appointed Foreign Minister Gonzalo Fernandez.
He told them that he had hoped for a few days of calm to put
the MFA's house in order. Instead, he was immediately
challenged by the Ecuador-Colombia-Venezuela conflict that
began with the March 1 cross-border incident in which 17 FARC
guerillas were killed inside Ecuadorian territory by
Colombian forces. Fernandez said one of his main aims was to
recover Uruguay,s international prestige on matters of
diplomacy, contributions to international law and the pacific
settlement of disputes -- an image that had degraded under
his predecessor. He reminded that Uruguay has a long
tradition of expertise in international law and a reputation
for being both balanced and prudent. Fernandez will attend
the March 17 OAS meeting of Foreign Ministers in Washington.
He said he wanted Uruguay to meaningfully contribute to the
solution of the Colombia-Ecuador conflict and appealed for
U.S. support for Uruguay to be part of the process.

3. (C) When queried about prospects for more constructive
engagement with Uruguay,s OAS Perm Rep Lujan Flores, he
obliquely answered, "I must strike a delicate balance among
what I, the President, the opposition, and my party want. We
must walk very carefully over the rocks." (Note: This was in
reference to former Foreign Minister Reinaldo Gargano who is
now back in the Senate, where he recently tried hard to push
through a harsh anti-Colombia resolution. End Note.)

4. (C) Regarding the Colombia-Ecuador conflict, Fernandez
said he tried to construct a "progressive" strategy based on
international law, the promotion of peace and consultations
with Mercosur. He claimed to have received little help from
Argentina and asserted that Argentine FM Taiana declared that
the FARC are not labeled as terrorists in South America, but
only by the EU and the UN. He maintained that Argentina
plays closely with Venezuela; that Nicaragua contends that
the U.S. is using Colombia to conduct a proxy war; and that
Mercosur is much more difficult with Chavez inside it.

5. (SBU) Ecuadorian Ambassador Edmundo Vera Manzo told the
DCM during a courtesy call that Ecuador wanted to hear what
the "independent voices of the international organizations"
such as ALADI, MERCOSUR and the OAS had to say in the matter.
Ecuador also wants a formal apology from Colombia with the
firm promise that its "unacceptable" incursion would never
again be repeated, he said. He added that the apology should
be backed by "confidence building measures" guaranteed by
other countries. Vera complained about the GOC's announcement
that it would not send any troops to its borders with
Venezuela or Ecuador. He asserted it was Colombia's duty to
guard the border and prevent further incursions from the FARC.

6. (SBU) The DCM also paid a courtesy call on Colombian
Ambassador Claudia Turbay, who said that despite difficulties
surrounding the conflict, there were important opportunities
as well, "because lots of previously hidden truths are now on
the table." She lauded the constructive efforts of Uruguay's
new Foreign Minister and believed that the GOU's statements
on the conflict were among the region's most "balanced and
civilized." She noted that the positions of Former FM
Gargano and other "hard core Communists" contrasted with the
more moderate elements in the FA administration.

COMMENT:
--------
7. (C) While Uruguay is not readily apparent as a player in
the resolution of the Colombia-Ecuador-Venezuela conflict, FM
Fernandez, desire to further engage Uruguay at the OAS is a
possibility worth considering. New at the MFA's helm, FM
Fernandez is much more pro-U.S. than his predecessor and is
already taking a statesman-like approach to Uruguay's foreign
policy, as evidenced by his replacement of political
appointees at the MFA with career diplomats, regardless of
party affiliation. We note that the headquarters of both
MERCOSUR and ALADI are located in Montevideo, so that the
GOU's moderate voice can sometimes carry additional weight in
those fora. END COMMENT.
Baxter

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

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