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Cablegate: Farc Kidnaps President of Latin American Bishops

P 122035Z NOV 02
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2324
INFO AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
AMEMBASSY CARACAS
AMEMBASSY LIMA
AMEMBASSY PANAMA
AMEMBASSY QUITO
DIA WASHDC
DIRONDCP WASHDC
JOINT STAFF WASHDC
NSC WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
USCINCSO MIAMI FL

UNCLAS BOGOTA 010338

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: FARC KIDNAPS PRESIDENT OF LATIN AMERICAN BISHOPS
CONFERENCE

REF: A. BOGOTA 9881
B. BOGOTA 9640

1. (U) ON NOVEMBER 11, THE PRESIDENT OF THE LATIN AMERICAN
BISHOPS CONFERENCE (CELAM) AND BISHOP OF ZIPAQUIRA, JORGE
ENRIQUE JIMENEZ, WAS KIDNAPPED IN A RURAL AREA NEAR PACHO,
CUNDINAMARCA. TWO ARMED MEN KIDNAPPED THE BISHOP ALONG WITH
A PARISH PRIEST. THE 60 YEAR-OLD JIMENEZ WAS TRAVELING TO
SAN ANTONIO DE AGUILERA TO PRESIDE OVER A CONFIRMATION
CEREMONY. ARMY 13TH BRIGADE COMMANDER GENERAL CARLOS ALBERTO
OSPINA ATTRIBUTED THE KIDNAPPING TO THE FARC. THE FARC'S
22ND FRONT OPERATES IN THE AREA WHERE THE BISHOP WAS ABDUCTED.

2. (U) THIS IS THE LATEST IN A SERIES OF TERRORIST ATTACKS BY
THE FARC (AS WELL AS THE ELN) AGAINST ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS
AND PRIESTS. IN MARCH, THE ARCHBISHOP OF CALI, ISAIAS DUARTE
CANCINO, WAS ASSASSINATED. MORE RECENTLY, IN OCTOBER, THE
FARC GUNNED DOWN A PARISH PRIEST AS HE WAS LEAVING HIS
RESIDENCE IN CHALAN, SUCRE (REF B).

3. (U) THE FARC HAS BEEN CARRYING OUT A KIDNAPPING CAMPAIGN
AGAINST RELIGIOUS AND GOVERNMENT FIGURES IN AN ATTEMPT TO
PRESSURE THE URIBE ADMINISTRATION TO EXCHANGE THEM FOR
CONVICTED FARC PRISONERS. NGO'S AND FAMILY MEMBERS OF KIDNAP
VICTIMS HAVE FLOATED SEVERAL EXCHANGE PROPOSALS. WILLIAM
VELEZ, PRESIDENT OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, ALSO HAS A
PROPOSAL FOR A ONE-TIME EXCHANGE. THE FARC PRISONERS WOULD
BE SENT TO A THIRD COUNTRY AND NOT BE ALLOWED TO RETURN TO
COLOMBIA.

4. (U) COMMENT: BY FOCUSING ON ELITE RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL
LEADERS, THE FARC IS TRYING TO INCREASE THE PRESSURE ON THE
GOVERNMENT. THERE HAVE BEEN INDICATIONS IN THE PRESS THAT
THE URIBE ADMINISTRATION IS CONSIDERING THE VELEZ PROPOSAL
(REF A). END COMMENT.


PATTERSON


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