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Cablegate: Mini-Dublin Group Meeting Highlights

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

282104Z Dec 05





E.O. 12956: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: On December 14, 2005, representatives
from various European countries and the U.S. met to review
the Group's annual report on Colombia and to solicit
additional information from member countries. The report's
main point is that eradication and interdiction numbers for
Colombia are at a record high. This year's numbers will
reflect over 166,000 hectares of coca eradicated (equivalent
to 183 metric tons) and over 300 metric tons of cocaine
captured. While street prices in the U.S. have increased,
the price of cocaine in Europe has remained stable.
Ecuador's request that the U.N. undertake a new study on the
effects of glyphosate on human health was brought up, with
no local United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
support for the idea. Glyphosate use in Ecuador is 40 times
larger than the amount sprayed in Colombia near the border
with Ecuador. Colombia has shown its commitment to the
global fight against drugs by providing funds and property
for UNODC use. Support for Colombia's demobilization
efforts is needed. European countries are concerned about
Colombia's borders and about new trafficking routes. End

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2. (SBU) Ambassadors and representatives from various
European countries including Spain, the United Kingdom,
France, Sweden, the Czech Republic, the European Union, and
the U.S. participated in the biannual meeting in Bogota of
the Mini-Dublin Group, presided over by Spain.

Coca-cultivated Areas
3. (SBU) On the issue of reduction of areas cultivated,
Sandro Calvani, the UNODC representative to Colombia,
informed attendees that the UN's Integrated Illicit Crop
Monitoring System (SIMCI) has not completed its 2005 study
of areas under coca cultivation. SIMCI is still in the
phase of downloading the information. SIMCI may be able to
provide a preliminary assessment to the donor nations (UK,
USA, Canada, etc.) by the end of February or the beginning
of March. The official report would not be publicly
available until the end of May. Calvani stated that SIMCI
had had productive meetings with the U.S. Crime and
Narcotics Center (CNC), the entity responsible for official
U.S. government figures on illicit crops. He said that,
although there were different SIMCI and CNC figures on the
number of hectares under cultivation, both study
methodologies were valid. Calvani added that since both
methodologies are correct, but different, this accounted for
the difference in reported hectarage with coca.

Eradication and Interdiction

4. (SBU) Ambassador Wood gave a recap of 2005 eradication
figures: over 136,000 hectares sprayed and over 30,000
hectares manually eradicated to date. The total for the
year will exceed 166,000 hectares of coca eliminated, which
is equivalent to 183 metric tons (mt) of cocaine off the

5. (SBU) He informed attendees that on the interdiction
front the GOC, with USG support, had captured or destroyed
over 165 mt of cocaine HCL within the country, with most of
the interdiction accomplished by the Colombian National
Police and the Navy. Transit area seizures amounted to
another 139 mt. Between eradication and interdiction over
487 mt of cocaine would not reach its destination.

6. (SBU) Ambassador Wood highlighted that in November U.S.
Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director John
Walters announced that there had been a 30 percent increase
in the street price of heroin and a 19 percent increase in
the street price of cocaine. In a quick survey of the
countries' representatives, France, Spain, and the UK said
the street price of cocaine had remained stable, while in
the UK wholesale prices had dropped slightly.

7. (SBU) Calvani chimed in that the reduction of
availability did not necessarily result in a price increase
on the street in Europe. The wholesale price of cocaine in
Europe is more than double the price in the USA.
Traffickers have more leeway to absorb the rising costs
until they become significant. When the cost of cocaine
rises to a certain level, street prices may be affected.

Glyphosate Issue

8. (SBU) Ambassador Wood said that he understood that there
were doubts about the Organization of American States (OAS)
study on glyphosate, even among OAS members. To his
knowledge, the issue had never been discussed in the OAS,
nor was there any indication that the OAS as an organization
was unhappy with the study or wanted someone else to take up
the issue. He recalled from his experience in the United
Nations (UN) that the UN does not ordinarily pre-empt
regional organizations without full consultation with them.
Ambassador Wood commented that we wanted to focus on the
scientific facts, whatever they are. Therefore, from the
U.S. point of view, the best course of action would be: (1)
for the OAS itself to review the study to assess the
scientific merits of the findings and (2) to suspend other
action until then.

9. (SBU) Calvani concurred with Ambassador Wood. He made
explicit mention of Ecuador and said that the UN office in
Quito had "gotten ahead of themselves." They had even gone
so far as to estimate the costs of a UN study, at a price
that he characterized as "absurd" (his word). He also noted
that there was great reluctance inside the UN to take up the
issue and that there already had been a decision, following
a high-level meeting, that, if a study were done, UNODC
would have to play a part.

Spraying in the National Parks - A Chemical Perspective
--------------------------------------------- ----------

10. (SBU) Ambassador Wood said that we were very near to
receiving approval to spray in the Colombian national parks.
To place spraying into perspective, Ambassador Wood said it
requires 550 kilograms (kgs) of liquid chemicals to process
one hectare of coca leaf into cocaine HCL, chemicals that
are all dumped into the ground after use. He compared this
with five kgs of glyphosate used to spray that same hectare,
with those five kgs not going into the soil in an active
state. He also compared the commercial agricultural use of
glyphosate, estimated at two million gallons annually in
Colombia and 800,000 gallons in Ecuador, with the 400,000
gallons used by the spray eradication program, of which only
20,000 were used in the area of Colombia near the border
with Ecuador.

Colombia Asks for Commitment and Itself Ponies Up
--------------------------------------------- ----

11. (SBU) Calvani mentioned the visit by Colombian Vice
President Francisco Santos to Vienna, where Santos asked for
a more serious commitment from European countries in the
fight against drugs in Colombia.

12. (SBU) Calvani highlighted Colombia's unprecedented step
of contributing USD 20 million to the global war against
drugs. Normally countries in Latin America are recipients
of anti-narcotics funding, or donate funds to be used in
their own country, such as the case of Brazil. The GOC also
has donated an expropriated property to be used by the UN to
consolidate all its regional offices.

13. (SBU) Ambassador Wood mentioned also the successful
visit of members of the Afghan government to review all
aspects of the Colombian counterdrug program and a planned
follow-up visit by Colombian Anti-Narcotics Police to
Afghanistan in March or April of 2006.

Demobilization, Demand Reduction, and Alternative
--------------------------------------------- ----

14. (SBU) On the demobilization issue, Ambassador Wood said
that the group needed to back the GOC so that the areas
evacuated by narcotraffickers and paramilitaries are not
taken over by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia

15. (SBU) Calvani said the Colombian government's demand
reduction programs need updating. There was interest at the
local and department level for demand reduction programs,
but these depended on the good will of civil society and
private enterprise.

16. (SBU) Ambassador Wood said the United States would be
providing approximately USD 68 million in alternative
development assistance. He said alternative development
should not be a payment for not planting coca, but rather
should induce the "campesinos" to move from illicit to licit
crops. Sustainable rural development is a constant concern
of the U.S. Embassy. Colombia has the third highest number
of internally displaced persons in the world. The GOC must
create the necessary security conditions for the displaced
to return to their homes and become economically
independent. The EU representative said the EU wants to
reinforce assistance to alternative development programs in

17. (SBU) Calvani said that the GOC was doing a poor job of
mobilizing public opinion on many issues - spraying,
glyphosate use, etc. Many Colombians were ignorant of
important programs in Colombia, such as the "Laboratorios de
Paz" (Peace Labs).

Money Laundering, Trafficking Patterns, and Precursors
--------------------------------------------- --------

18. (SBU) The Spanish chair said that Colombia's borders
with Venezuela, Brazil, and Ecuador were of special concern.
Calvani was in agreement that more trafficking is going
towards the south. He said that new drug smuggling routes
were going through Africa--especially Nigeria, Ghana, and
Cote d'Ivoire--substituting for traditional routes across
the Atlantic

19. (SBU) Calvani reported that the UNODC is implementing a
program, based in Bogota, for regional conferences or
seminars on precursor chemical control for governmental
country representatives and the private sector. The EU
representative said that the EU wants to establish a
database for the registry of precursor chemical shipments.

20. (U) The meeting concluded with the Spanish chair
promising an annual report for member countries.


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