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Cablegate: Ambassador Discusses Wealth Tax, Human Rights With

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C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 011428

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/19/2016
TAGS: MARR PGOV PREL PTER CO IS EC
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES WEALTH TAX, HUMAN RIGHTS WITH
DEFENSE MINISTER SANTOS


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

1. (C) Summary: Defense Minister Santos said the GOC would
use the recently enacted &wealth tax8 to fund items that
would have an immediate impact in the war against terrorist
groups. He asked the U.S. to advise the GOC on how best to
spend these funds; the Ambassador agreed to do so. Santos
said the GOC was considering possible Israeli help with its
High-Value Target program, and would receive a formal
proposal in January. The Ambassador said we shared the
concerns of the International Red Cross and the U.N.
Commission on Human Rights regarding alleged extra-judicial
killings by military personnel. Santos said the GOC planned
to transfer authority over the military justice system from
the Defense Ministry to the civilian judiciary to give it
greater transparency. He reiterated the GOC commitment to
continue aerial spraying along the Ecuadorian border despite
GOE protests. End Summary

2. (C) The Ambassador met Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos
and Vice Minister Sergio Jaramillo on December 16 to present
the U.S. response to the GOC,s proposed strategic framework
agreement (reported reftel), review security issues, and
highlight human rights concerns.

--------------------------------------------- ----------
GOC Seeks U.S. Help on Optimizing Use of the Wealth Tax
--------------------------------------------- ----------
3. (C) Santos said the Defense Ministry needed help to decide
how best to spend the revenue it would receive from the
recently enacted &wealth tax.8 The different military
services had prepared &wish lists8 of priority items; it
was difficult for the civilians in the Ministry to evaluate
these requests. He did not want to spend the proceeds on
capital items that required long delivery times. President
Uribe regularly stressed that the GOC only has forty-three
months to achieve his goals. The emphasis would be on
operational costs or capital goods that would have an
immediate impact in the war against illegal armed groups.
&We don't want to buy toys,8 he stressed. Santos said he
had asked the U.S. to evaluate Colombia's air defense needs
when the GOC was considering buying the Super Tucano. He had
benefited greatly from U.S. input. He asked the Ambassador
if the U.S. would provide similar guidance on how to use the
&wealth tax8 proceeds.

4. (C) The Ambassador said the U.S. would be glad to help.
He agreed the GOC should focus on its internal conflict which
meant giving priority to operational and sustainment costs.
Capital expenditures should be focused on internal threats
and look for the most cost-effective*as opposed to most
technologically advanced*solutions. He assured Santos
that in providing our assessment, the U.S would be objective.

--------------------------------------------- ------------
Possible Israeli Involvement in High-Value-Target Program
--------------------------------------------- ------------
5. (C) Santos said the GOC was considering possible Israeli
assistance with its High-Value-Target program, and asked that
the information be held closely. Three senior, retired
Israeli officials, including a former Mossad official,
recently visited Colombia and would present a formal proposal
to the GOC in January. Vice Defense Minister Jaramillo
added that while the Colombian military had developed strong
tactical skills, it had failed to build effective systems. He
thought the Israelis would be helpful in this regard.

6. (C) The Ambassador said the U.S. would not object to an
Israeli role, but noted that the environment in Israel was
different from that of Colombia. For example, the Israelis
had better operational security.

-----------------------------
The Military and Human Rights
-----------------------------
7. (C) The Ambassador said we shared the concerns raised by
the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the
UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) regarding alleged
military involvement in extra-judicial killings. It was key
that the GOC investigate and punish any military personnel

responsible for such crimes in a timely, transparent way.

8. (C) Santos agreed the GOC must act quickly to punish
military involved in human rights violations. He had
recently met with ICRC representative Barbara Hintermann and
UNCHR representative Juan Pablo Corlazzoli to discuss these
issues, and would follow up with them in the future. Santos
said President Uribe had met with the military High Command
the week of December 2 at the Casa Narino and had stressed
the need for the military to punish human rights violators.
Santos said he had also proposed that authority over the
military justice system be transferred from the Defense
Ministry to the civilian judicial system. This would give
the military justice system greater transparency and
credibility. After some initial resistance, he said the
senior military commanders had accepted this reform.

----------------------------------
Spraying and the Ecuadorian Border
----------------------------------
9. (C) The Ambassador praised the GOC decision to resume
aerial spraying of illegal coca cultivation along the
Ecuadorian border. Regarding the sharp reaction from the
GOE, Santos said the GOC stance was to be &humble but firm8
regarding the decision. He had spoken with his Ecuadorian
counterpart who had taken the news in stride; it was
Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Francisco Carrion who was taking
a hard line over the issue. Santos thanked the Ambassador
for information that the U.S. had provided on the safety of
glyphosate and the spray program; it would be invaluable in
dealing with the media.
WOOD

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

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