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Cablegate: Colombian Ambassador On Cuban Role In

VZCZCXYZ0020
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUB #0316/01 1071440
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 161440Z APR 08
FM USINT HAVANA
TO RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3126
INFO RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN IMMEDIATE 0188

C O N F I D E N T I A L HAVANA 000316

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
///////////////////////////////////////////// ///////
DO NOT, REPEAT DO NOT PROCESS MESSAGE IS WAITING FOR
EAO GUDIANCE.
///////////////////////////////////////////// //////

DEPT FOR WHA, WHA/CCA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/17/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV CU CO EC VN
SUBJECT: COLOMBIAN AMBASSADOR ON CUBAN ROLE IN
COLOMBIA/ECUADOR DISPUTE

REF: HAVANA 0229 (EXDIS)

Classified By: COM MICHAEL E. PARMLY FOR REASONS 1.4 B AND D

SUMMARY
--------
1. (C) COLOMBIAN AMBASSADOR LONDONO TOLD US 15 APRIL THAT
CUBA CONTINUES TO PLAY AN UNUSUALLY DISCREET ROLE IN
COLOMBIA'S DISPUTE WITH ECUADOR. THE CUBANS HAVE STUCK TO
THEIR ALMOST COMPLETE SILENCE ON THE ISSUE. FM PEREZ ROQUE,
IN LONDONO'S VIEW ON DIRECT INSTRUCTIONS FROM RAUL CASTRO,
TOLD GRULAC AMBASSADORS TO HAVANA LAST WEEK THAT THE GOC
VALUES AS MUCH ITS TIES TO THE ONE AS TO THE OTHER. LONDONO
REJECTED ANY NOTION THAT HAVANA SOUGHT TO KEEP DISPUTE
RESOLUTION OUT OF VENUES WHERE THERE IS A U.S. PRESENCE. HE
POSITED THAT IN RECENT WEEKS, HE HAD SEEN SMALL BUT IMPORTANT
SIGNS THAT THE GOC WANTS TO LOWER THE TEMPERATURE WITH
WASHINGTON. END SUMMARY.

CUBA ON COLOMBIA-ECUADOR: STRICT IMPARTIALITY
--------------------------------------------- -
2. (C) COLOMBIAN AMBASSADOR TO HAVANA JULIO LONDONO, DEAN OF
THE DIP CORPS HERE WITH TEN YEARS ON THE GROUND, BRIEFED COM
ON THE CUBAN ROLE IN THE COLOMBIA-ECUADOR BORDER DISPUTE.
"STRICT HANDS-OFF" AND "TOTAL IMPARTIALITY" WERE TWO TERMS
LONDONO USED IN DESCRIBING THE GOC ATTITUDE. BUILDING ON
EARLIER COMMENTS TO US ON THE CUBAN ROLE, LONDONO SAID CUBAN
OFFICIALS, STARTING WITH PRESIDENT RAUL CASTRO, WENT OUT OF
THEIR WAY NOT/NOT TO COMMENT, EITHER PUBLICLY OR PRIVATELY,
ABOUT WHO WAS RIGHT AND WHO WAS WRONG IN THE DISPUTE.
HOWEVER, LONDONO SAID HE WAS CONVINCED -- THOUGH HE DECLINED
TO SAY ON WHAT BASIS -- THAT HAVANA, EITHER THROUGH DISCREET
EMISSARIES OR EVEN IN DIRECT PHONE CALLS, HAD TOLD VENEZUELAN
LEADER CHAVEZ TO BACK OFF ON HIS INFLAMED RHETORIC. LONDONO
HIMSELF HAD CONFINED HIS CONTACTS TO PCC INTERNATIONAL
SECRETARY FERNANDO REMIREZ DE ESTENOZ. IN SEVERAL MEETINGS,

SIPDIS
REMIREZ HAD SOUGHT INFORMATION FROM LONDONO ON WHERE THINGS
STOOD. LONDONO HAD OFFERED THE COLOMBIAN PERSPECTIVE, WHICH
REMIREZ HAD LARGELY TAKEN ON BOARD WITHOUT COMMENT. AT NO
POINT HAD REMIREZ OFFERED A PREFERRED OUTCOME FROM CUBA'S
PERSPECTIVE, LONDONO OBSERVED.

3. (C) LONDONO SAID THE CUBAN FOREIGN MINISTRY'S
EXCEPTIONALLY LOW PROFILE WAS ONLY ALTERED SOMEWHAT THE WEEK
OF 7 APRIL. THE GRULAC AMBASSADORS TO HAVANA HAD HOSTED FM
FELIPE PEREZ ROQUE TO DINNER AT THE HOTEL NACIONAL. IN HIS
REMARKS ON DEVELOPMENTS IN THE HEMISPHERE, THE ONLY SPECIFIC
PROBLEM PEREZ ROQUE REFERRED TO WAS THE COLOMBIA-ECUADOR
DISPUTE. THE FM LAUDED THE STATE OF CUBA'S RELATIONS WITH
ECUADOR, BUT POINTEDLY ADDED THAT HAVANA VALUES ITS CLOSE
TIES TO BOGOTA EQUALLY. PEREZ ROQUE CONCLUDED WITH A BLAND
EXPRESSION OF CUBA'S DESIRE TO SEE THE TWO SOUTH AMERICAN
NEIGHBORS SETTLE THEIR DIFFERENCE AMICABLY.

FAILED ECUADORIAN PRESSURE TO GET CUBA TO SPEAK OUT
--------------------------------------------- ------
4. (C) THE COLOMBIAN AMBASSADOR TOLD US THE ECUADORIANS HAD
BEEN QUITE EXERCISED AT HAVANA'S CAREFUL ATTITUDE IN THE
CRISIS. HIS ECUADORIAN COUNTERPART, UNIVERSEI ZAMBRANO, TOLD
LONDONO HE HAD RECEIVED INSTRUCTIONS TO CALL THE CUBANS ON
THE POINT AND TO SEEK AN EXPLANATION. LONDONO SAID HE KNOWS
THAT ZAMBRANO WAS RECEIVED AT A HIGH LEVEL OF MINREX TO
DELIVER QUITO'S MESSAGE OF IMPATIENCE, BUT THE ECUADORIANS
HAVE NOT TOLD HIM WHAT MINREX'S RESPONSE WAS.

CUBANS NOT SEEKING TO FREEZE OUT THE U.S., IN LONDONO'S VIEW
--------------------------------------------- ---------------
5. (C) LONDONO ADVISED US NOT TO PLACE TOO MUCH STOCK IN THE
VENUE -- SANTO DOMINGO -- WHERE A NUMBER OF THE REGIONAL
ACTORS, INCLUDING COLOMBIA AND ECUADOR, VENEZUELA AND
NICARAGUA, BUT NOT THE UNITED STATES WERE PRESENT. IN ANY
CASE, LONDONO SAID THAT AT NO POINT DID CUBAN OFFICIALS TELL
HIM THEY WANTED TO EXCLUDE THE USG FROM DISCUSSION OF AN
OUTCOME. LONDONO ACKNOWLEDGED THAT FIDEL, IN HIS REGULAR
"REFLECTIONS" IN THE CUBAN PRESS, HAD CROWED THAT THE SANTO
DOMINGO OUTCOME HAD BEEN POSSIBLE PRECISELY BECAUSE THE USG
HAD BEEN ABSENT, BUT HE DID NOT BELIEVE THAT POINT OF VIEW
REPRESENTED RAUL'S VIEWS.
RAUL TRYING TO LOWER THE TEMPERATURE
------------------------------------
6. (C) LONDONO'S INTERPRETATION IS THAT RAUL ACCEPTS HIS
BROTHER'S RANTS NOT BECAUSE HE AGREES WITH THEM, BUT RATHER
BECAUSE 1) IT IS NOT WORTH THE EFFORT TO TRY TO STOP THE
IRREPRESSIBLE FIDEL; AND 2) LETTING FIDEL RATTLE ON GIVES
RAUL COVER WITH THE HARD LINERS IN THE REGIME. THE COLOMBIAN
AMBASSADOR, CURRENT DEAN OF THE DIP CORPS HERE AND A TEN-YEAR
VETERAN IN HAVANA WHO HAS MET MANY TIMES WITH BOTH FIDEL AND
RAUL, SAID RAUL IS NOW FIRMLY IN CHARGE OF EVENTS ON THE
ISLAND, AT LEAST INSOFAR AS THE REGIME IS CONCERNED. HE

POINTED TO THE REMOVAL OF HATEFUL ANTI-U.S. BILLBOARDS AROUND
TOWN AS ANOTHER SIGN OF THE MORE PRAGMATIC, LESS IDEOLOGICAL
CHARACTER NOW AT THE HEAD OF THE REGIME. WHEN COM PRESSED,
LONDONO SAID HE HAD NO INSIGHTS AS TO WHEN THE REGIME WOULD
RELEASE POLITICAL PRISONERS, AND HE AGREED THAT SUCH AN ACT
WOULD BE THE MOST CONCRETE SIGN OF THE REGIME WANTING TO GO
IN A TRULY NEW DIRECTION. LONDONO EXPRESSED SURPRISE THAT
THE REGIME HAD NOT TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF THE VISITS OF VATICAN
STATE SECRETARY BERTONE OR EU COMMISSIONER MICHEL TO RELEASE
POL PRISONERS, BUT HE AGREED THAT THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
SHOULD KEEP PRESSING THE POINT. "QUIETLY," HE ADDED.

COMMENT
-------
7. (C) LONDONO TOLD US PRESIDENT URIBE HAS ASKED HIM TO TAKE
THE LEAD FOR COLOMBIA IN REACHING A FINAL SETTLEMENT WITH
ECUADOR IN THE DISPUTE. FOR NOW HE INTENDS TO DO THAT JOB
WHILE RETAINING HIS HAVANA POSTING. LONDONO HAS GOOD
PROFESSIONAL TIES WITH SENIOR REGIME OFFICIALS HERE, BUT IS
NOT AS SYCOPHANTIC AS MANY OF HIS COUNTERPARTS. FROM THAT
PERSPECTIVE, HIS ANALYSIS OF RAUL'S EFFORTS TO LOWER THE
IDEOLOGICAL CONTENT OF CUBAN BEHAVIOR IS WORTH CONSIDERATION.

PARMLY

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