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Cablegate: Betancourt "Insider" Hints at Future Presidential

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OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHFR #1331/01 1931924
ZNY CCCCC ZZH ZDK
O 111924Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3738
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 0497
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0549
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RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 0005
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2931
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 001331

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/10/2017
TAGS: PREL PHUM FR EUN PGOV PTER PREF CO SP
SUBJECT: BETANCOURT "INSIDER" HINTS AT FUTURE PRESIDENTIAL
CAMPAIGN WHILE REFOCUSING ON LIBERATING REMAINING HOSTAGES

PARIS 00001331 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: Deputy Political Counselor Andrew R. Young for reasons 1
.4 (b/d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: A Board Member of the Committee in Support of
Ingrid Betancourt told Poloff on July 11 that former
hostage/presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt will focus
her energy on securing the release of all remaining FARC and
ELN hostages in Colombia and he strongly hinted Betancourt
would run again for the Colombian presidency in the
indeterminate future. Thankful for USG efforts to help win
the release of the 15 hostages on July 2, Hugo de Coulomme
singled out Ambassador Brownfield, WHA/AND and even latecomer
Embassy Paris for their assistance to the families of the
American hostages. Betancourt is scheduled to receive the
Legion of Honor Award in Paris on French National Day on July
14, and will host a concert/rally also in Paris on July 20.
END SUMMARY.


Background

2. (C) On July 11 Poloff met in Paris with Hugo de Coulomme,
member of the board of directors for the newly renamed
Committee With Ingrid Betancourt in Support of the Colombian
Hostages (formerly known as the Committee in Support of
Ingrid Betancourt). Coulomme is a dual UK/French national
who joined the Committee in January 2008. Not part of the
broader international coalition of FARC and ELN hostage
support committees, Coulomme said the Committee will remain
independent and enjoy its status as "the key group" with
direct access to Ingrid and the Betancourt family.


Continuing fight for those left behind

3. (C) Coulomme said he was flattered to have been the main
point of contact when Jo Rosano, mother of Marc Gonzalves,
received the news while visiting Paris that her son was freed
with 14 other hostages on July 2. He thanked Embassy Paris
and WHA/AND for their responsiveness and assistance to help
reunifyRosano with her son in the U.S. Coulomme said the
Committee will continue its work, in lockstep with Ingrid
Betancourt, to secure the release of the remaining FARC and
ELN hostages still in captivity in Colombia. The Committee
is currently in a state of flux but is working on a strategy
to redirect its efforts on the hostage issue, he said. More
importantly, the Committee is in regular contact with
Betancourt, her children Melanie and Lorenzo
Delloye-Betancourt, and her ex-husband, FabriceDelloye, who
all remain active in the re-focused movement.


Sarkozy, France, and the USG: Praise all around

4. (C) Coulomme believed French President Sarkozy played an
important role in securing Betancourt's release. Political
posturing aside, Coulomme claimed Sarkozy "really pushed" the
hostage issue to the forefront of French foreign policy. He
contrastedSarkozy,s activism which he believed was even
more effective than his predecessor Jacques Chirac. As far
as the Colombian military operation on July 2 went, Coulomme
said he and other Committee members were "not convinced" the
operation was purely Colombian; he said the Committee
believed "it was obvious" there was substantial USG support,
and he wanted to know more about the USG role in the rescue.
That aside, he said the families of the American hostages --
who the Committee claims to have been in touch with all along
-- were very thankful for USG efforts on their sons' behalf.
Of particular note was Ambassador Brownfield, whom Coulomme
said really made an effort to reach out to the families. The
Committee also praised Arizona Governor Bill Richardson's
work on the issue this past year.


Upcoming Events: Concert and Honors


PARIS 00001331 002 OF 002


5. (C) Ingrid Betancourt was planning to return to Colombia
to take part in a demonstration to be held on July 20 in
Bogot. But after consulting with her family -- who are
against her immediate return to Colombia -- Betancourt
decided to stay in Paris for the time being. "Ingrid is
extremely tired," said Coulomme. "She wants to relax and
regroup," he claimed. Coulomme cautioned that although
Betancourt has wavered on announcing any aspirations for the
Colombian presidency, she confided to him that her future
plans will "definitely involve Colombia." The Committee, in
coordination with several unnamed Colombian non-profit
organizations also working to bring attention to the
hostages, will instead host a concert and rally for
Betancourt also on July 20 in Paris, which will be broadcast
simultaneously via satellite with the Bogot event.
Colombian singer Juanes has tentatively agreed to perform.
Coulomme said Betancourt will make an appearance and give a
speech at the event. On July 14, she will be a guest of
honor during French National Day celebrations, and is to
receive the Legion of Honor award later that day at the
Elyse.


Request for Meeting with Embassy Paris

6. (C) Coulomme said that in the next few weeks Betancourt
has expressed interest in meeting with Embassy Paris
officials. He said she would like to discuss USG efforts to
secure the release of all remaining hostages still in
captivity in Colombia.


Comment

7. (C) Although Coulomme is untested and a relative newcomer
to this effort, he strongly indicated that Betancourt will at
some point seek the Colombian presidency. He noted that like
many politicians, Betancourt has been unwilling to show her
hand, especially so soon after being released. That aside,
he believed she is mostly concerned with timing and whether
President Uribe will be able to successfully change the
constitution to run for a third term. And if she does choose
to run, she already enjoys an established international
support network that could morph into a campaign structure.
End Comment.

Please visit Paris' Classified Website at:
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Fran ce

STAPLETON

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

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