Search

 

Cablegate: Representative Blunt Meets with Vice President

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #6329/01 2411445
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291445Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8428
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7708
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9256
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ AUG 8885
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5346
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 0574
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 5939
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4047

UNCLAS BOGOTA 006329

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KJUS PGOV PINR PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: REPRESENTATIVE BLUNT MEETS WITH VICE PRESIDENT
SANTOS

1. Summary: Representative Roy Blunt (R-MO) met with Vice
President Santos on August 22 to discuss counter narcotics
cooperation and prospects for U.S. congressional approval of
the bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Santos voiced
optimism regarding degradation of the FARC's network and
continued success on joint drug eradication programs. He
reiterated the GOC's commitment to human rights and
protection of labor unionists. Santos urged the U.S.
Congress to approve the FTA before the end of the year,
saying failure to do so would weaken the U.S. position in the
region. End Summary.

2. U.S. Participants:

Representative Roy Blunt
CDA Brian Nichols
Brian Diffell, Office of the Republican Whip
Poloff (notetaker)

Colombia Participants:

Vice President Francisco Santos
Ambassador Carolina Barco
MFA official Luis Araujo

-----------------------------------
Winning the War Against FARC, Drugs
-----------------------------------

3. Vice President Santos expressed optimism about the fight
against the approximately 15,000 remaining FARC members. The
GOC has made life more difficult for the FARC as the
Colombian military expands its presence and conducts more
aggressive operations. The FARC has lost its ideological
appeal and internal discipline as it has focused more on
narcotrafficking. Ambassador Barco said public support for
the FARC is at an all-time low (1%) because of its violence
and use of land mines. Ten thousand FARC have deserted in
the past four years, with 85 mid-level commanders deserting
so far this year. The rate of desertions continues to
increase as news spreads about the positive effects of
desertion, such as education opportunities, financial
assistance and family reunions.

4. Santos said the GOC's fight against drugs has never been
more aggressive. Extradition, interdiction, and aerial
spraying remain key to the program. Manual eradication would
play an increasing role as a way to involve the population in
eradication efforts. The Charge underscored U.S. support
for eradication that took $400 million a year out of the
hands of the FARC. Santos reaffirmed the GOC's commitment to
promoting rural employment and alternative crops, especially
since the coffee and cotton sectors have suffered from
competition and a strong peso. Santos warned any cut in the
military component of Plan Colombia would give the FARC more
"breathing room" to expand its drug network. President
Uribe's "wealth tax" of 1.8% during his first term and 3.5%
during his second term has received public support because
Colombians see the benefits of a more secure, safe country.

------------------------------
FTA Debate Affects Geopolitics
------------------------------

5. Barco urged the USG to press Congress to consider the FTA
in October, after Peru and before Panama. The GOC had
already submitted the revised labor and environmental
provisions to its Congress, and passage was expected by the
end of September. It is also preparing a document outlining
the GOC's efforts on labor violence and human rights,
including commitments beyond 2007. Barco voiced frustration
about the politicization of the FTA.

6. Santos asserted the FTA vote represented the most
important U.S. congressional vote on Latin American policy in
thirty years. He said U.S.-Colombian relations had
strengthened in the past ten years. Colombia has been a good
friend, resisting regional pressures and acting as a mediator
between the United States and Latin America. Radicals in
Colombia and the region would only increase their pressure if
the United States does not pass the FTA.

7. The Charge agreed geopolitical factors are vital, but
said the GOC also needed to show concrete progress in
prosecuting human rights cases, especially in cases of

violence against unionists. Representative Blunt underscored
the importance of human rights and his support for continued
economic and security cooperation. Santos and Barco thanked
the Representative for his support.
Nichols

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN: As COVID Deaths Pass Two Million Worldwide, Guterres Warns Against Self-Defeating ‘Vaccinationalism'

With more than two million lives now lost worldwide to COVID-19, the UN Secretary-General appealed on Friday for countries to work together and help each other to end the pandemic and save lives. In a video statement , Secretary-General António Guterres ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Washington Riot And The Georgia Results

Hong Kong and Washington DC. On the same morning, the tyrants in power in Beijing and their counterpart in the White House have shown how they refuse to accept the legitimacy of any different points of view, and the prospect of losing power… More>>

UN: Violent Attempt At US Capitol To ‘overturn’ Election, Shocking And Incendiary

A group of independent UN rights experts released ... More>>

UN: Guterres To Seek Second Five-year Term
António Guterres will be seeking a second five-year term as UN Secretary-General, which would begin in January 2022.... More>>