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Cablegate: Political Uncertainty Prompts Speculation About

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #1398/01 3551904
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211904Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1489
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7326
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 8537
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC LIMA 4599
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 9843
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5257
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3819
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHOND/DIRONDCP WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 011398

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/21/2016
TAGS: ASEC KJUS PGOV PINR PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: POLITICAL UNCERTAINTY PROMPTS SPECULATION ABOUT
HIGH-PROFILE ASSASINATIONS

REF: BOGOTA 11005

Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood.
Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d)

-------
Summary
-------

1. (C) There is widespread concern among Colombia's
political elite about the possibility of violence directed
against one or more political figures related to the ongoing
para-political scandal. Less clear is whether the concerns
are based on solid information or speculation. Polo
Democratic leader Senator Gustavo Petro told El Tiempo on
December 17 he feared for President Uribe's safety. The
security detail chief in the presidential palace told us they
are taking the threats seriously. End summary.

--------------
Rumors Growing
--------------

2. (C) Colombian politicians from across the political
spectrum have expressed concern to us that former
paramilitaries may conduct a high-profile assassination
("megacidio") to stem growing political pressure to punish
them for their crimes. General Oscar Naranjo, Director of
the Colombian National Police Counterterrorism Directorate
(DIJIN), told us on November 30 that presidential advisors
Fabio Valencia and Bernardo Moreno were worried that
paramilitaries feeling threatened might murder a leading
public figure such as Liberal Senator Piedad Cordoba, Polo
Senator Gustavo Petro, or a conservative political leader.
Their concern was based on previous political crises where
the goal of such attacks was to intimidate critics.

3. (C) Senator Roberto Gerlein, a Conservative Party leader,
told us on December 6 that an unnamed "senior cabinet
minister" had said to him he was worried about the increasing
possibility of an assassination against a senior political
figure that would "shake the country." The minister did not
say who would conduct the attack or who might be a possible
target. Gerlein added that Senator Miguel de la Espriella of
the U Party, who recently revealed information about a secret
meeting between a group of 40 politicians and the
ex-paramilitaries in 2001, had publicly announced a threat
against himself as well.

4. (C) Other sources say the "megacidio" could come from
rogue members of the security services to prevent their names
from being tied to paramilitaries. Polo Senator Petro told
us on December 7 he was worried about the possibility of a
"megacidio," which could target any high-profile political
leader, including himself or President Uribe. He claimed the
likely culprits would be members of the police or military
who were at risk of having their ties to paramilitaries
exposed. In an El Tiempo interview on December 17, Petro
said he feared for Uribe's safety based on information from
sources he refused to identify. He pointed to unnamed
politicians, businessmen, and military and police officers as
prospective plotters and said he had warned DAS Director
Andres Penate of the danger.

-------------------------------------------
Presidential Palace Takes Threats Seriously
-------------------------------------------

5. (C) It is unclear to what extent the concerns about a
high-profile political murder reflect facts or speculation,
but the security detail chief in the presidential palace told
us they are taking the threats against Uribe seriously.
They know Uribe's decision to transfer ex-paramilitaries to a
maximum-security prison on December 1 has sparked resentment
among the former paramilitary leaders and their supporters
(ref A). Security officials are following up on Petro's
claims and are taking additional security measures.

-------
Comment
-------

6. (C) We are also taking the rumors seriously, both as a
security issue and a political issue.

WOOD

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

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