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Cablegate: The Last Colombian Municipality Without a Public

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS BOGOTA 001764

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR PHUM SNAR CO
SUBJECT: THE LAST COLOMBIAN MUNICIPALITY WITHOUT A PUBLIC
SECURITY PRESENCE RECEIVES A POLICE DETACHMENT

REF: BOGOTA 1187

1. (SBU) On February 12, the GOC reinstalled police forces in
Murindo, Antioquia department, a region in Uraba that has
long lacked a public security presence. Murindo was the last
of Colombia's 1,098 municipalities (equivalent to a U.S.
county) to receive a public security force -- completing a
major goal of the Uribe Administration. When Uribe assumed
office, 158 municipalities had no public security presence.
Colombian Armed Forces Commander General Carlos Ospina, who
was the commander in the region when Murindo fell to the FARC
and was wounded when his helicopter was shot down in a failed
operation to retake it, flew into the area for the
reoccupation in the lead helicopter.

2. (SBU) Murindo is located near the Antioquia/Choco
departmental border in northwestern Colombia, astride a
mobility corridor from the lowlands to the mountains, and is
also close to the Atrato River, which has been a lucrative
drug and arms trafficking route for the FARC and
paramilitaries. The region has been a staging area for many
terrorist operations in recent years. One of the most tragic
attacks came in 2002 when 119 people who had taken refuge in
a church in Bellavista, in nearby Bojaya municipality, were
killed by a FARC-launched gas cylinder bomb that struck the
building. The operation in Murindo is part of an ongoing GOC
effort to reassert its control over the length of the Atrato
River. In May 2003, the Colombian Navy deployed a heavily
armed 120-foot barge along the waterway.

3. (SBU) The Murindo reinsertion comes on the heels of the
February 7 Colombian Armed Forces and Police's successful
completion of joint operations in the southeastern
municipalities of Miraflores, Caruru, and Taraira, which
secured the GOC airfields and key forward bases of operation.
These reinsertions included U.S.-trained and funded Police
Junglas and Carabinero Squadrons, the latter of which will
remain to reinforce standard police units. President Uribe
and the Minister of Defense have insistently prodded the
public security forces to conduct joint operations; the
recent municipal reinsertions are excellent examples.
Butenis

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