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Cablegate: Santos Defends Reyes Operation in Congress

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR CO
SUBJECT: SANTOS DEFENDS REYES OPERATION IN CONGRESS

1. Summary: On April 2, Minister of Defense Juan Manuel
Santos testified to the House Plenary Commission in Congress
on the Raul Reyes' operation and relations with Ecuador
following the attack. Santos, along with Foreign Minister
Fernando Araujo, reviewed GOC efforts to work with the
Ecuadorians to combat the FARC prior to the operation,
documenting Ecuador's lack of response to repeated GOC
warnings of FARC activity in its neighbor's territory.
Opposition Polo Democratico and the Liberal party criticized
the GOC for allegedly deceiving the Colombian people about
the operations. Santos said the GOC would reward individuals
who provide intelligence on the location of FARC camps. End
Summary.

2. Defense Minister Santos testified at the Colombian
Congress on April 2 on the March 1 Colombian military
operation against FARC Secretariat member Raul Reyes in
Ecuadorian territory. Santos explained that the operation
complied with international law as well as with the Colombian
Constitution. He described a surgical operation planned by
Colombia's armed forces and undertaken with the knowledge
that there was little civilian presence in the area. Santos
said the GOC learned of Reyes' location via an informant and
not as previously reported through satellite imagery, cell
phone use or a satellite phone call from Venezuelan President
Chavez or the French government to Reyes. Opposition Polo
Democratico Representative Wilson Borja claimed the GOC had
lied about the operation's details and should be held
responsible. Santos defended the operation claiming, "we do
not counter illegal activity with more illegal activity."

3. Liberal Representative Guillermo Rivera raised concerns
over Colombia's bilateral ties with Ecuador and cautioned the
GOC to manage relations with a "cool head." Foreign Minister
Araujo said the blame for the diplomatic crisis lay with both
countries. Still, he explained that the GOC had repeatedly
requested GOE action--as well as political, military,
judicial, and intelligence cooperation--since mid-2007 to
combat the FARC presence in Ecuador, but to no avail. Araujo
added that following the resolution of the current crisis in
the OAS, GOC will continue to appeal to the GOE for help in
combating a common terrorist threat.

4. Santos reiterated on April 4 that information on the
whereabouts of Reyes camp was provided through human
intelligence. The GOC would reward the individuals involved.
On April 4, the key informant who provided the GOC details
on Reyes' whereabouts received 5 billion Colombian pesos
(approximately $2.7 million) in compensation. To date, this
is the largest amount paid to an individual who provided
information on the whereabouts of a FARC member. The
informant and his family are under protection of the GOC and
plan to leave the country in the near future.
BROWNFIELD

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