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Cablegate: Colombian Local Elections Proceed Smoothly With

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #7746/01 3031747
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301747Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9810
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7825
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9478
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ OCT 9009
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5562
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 0762
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6201
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4149
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS BOGOTA 007746

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR WHA/AND AND US/OAS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR PREF PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: COLOMBIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS PROCEED SMOOTHLY WITH
MINIMAL VIOLENCE

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. Colombia's October 28 local elections occurred without
significant violence or problems. The GOC deployed 167,000
police and military to voting sites, and electoral officials
were well-organized overall. The GOC quickly deployed
security to the few areas where allegations of fraud--or
localized violence --occurred Elections centered on local
issues and cross-party alliances, and the results do not
represent a referendum on President Uribe or other national
politicians. Candidates and parties associated with the
para-political scandal lost ground--though a few questionable
candidates won. Post will provide a complete analysis on the
results and implications of key local results (including the
para-political scandal) via septel. END SUMMARY.

---------------------------------
OBSERVERS REPORT SMOOTH ELECTIONS
---------------------------------

2. On October 29, OAS Electoral Observation Mission Chief
Dante Caputo released a statement praising the GOC's election
effort and concluding that elections proceeded smoothly --
with only isolated reports of election-day threats to
candidates and voter intimidation. Caputo highlighted
increased voter turnout, especially in rural areas, as an
indication that "a violent minority could not manipulate
elections through force." Voter turnout was high, with 10
departments reporting over 60% voter participation. The
lowest voter participation rate was in Caqueta, where 47% of
the eligible population voted. The OAS said the biggest
problems were pre-election violence and threats against
candidates, as well as vote-buying.

3. Embassy observers in ten critical departments (including:
Norte de Santander, Sucre, Cordoba, Meta, Cesar, Valle del
Cauca, Huila, Narino, and Caqueta) noted a strong and
professional security presence, and confirmed only minimal
incidents of violence and fraud. Electoral officials were
well-organized, and only small problems with polling
stations, many related to rainy weather, were reported. The
GOC deployed 167,000 military and police to provide security
at polling stations.

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GOVERNORS RACES
---------------

4. The elections, which included over 86,000 candidates
running for 18,527 offices (32 governors, 1,099 mayors, and
department and town council slots) were largely decided on
local issues and cross-party alliances; they were not
considered a referendum on President Uribe. Still, the
governing coalition did well, wining half of the governor's
races. The U Party won seven governors slots in its first
local election. The traditional Liberal Party won six
governorships down from 13 in 2003, and the Conservatives won
five, up from three in 2003. Control of governorships is key
to parties' efforts to build or maintain national party
structures.

--------------------------
BOGOTA AND OTHER KEY RACES
--------------------------

5. Leftist Polo Democratico Party candidate Samuel Moreno
(born in Miami) won the Bogota mayor's race with 43 percent
of the vote, defeating independent Enrique Penalosa. This is
the second consecutive Polo victory in Bogota and gives the
party a solid electoral base as it tries to build a national
network. Alonso Salazar, who served in the hugely popular
administration of Mayor Sergio Fajardo in Medellin, won an
upset victory. In Cesar and Atlantico, independent
candidates defeated heavily favored rivals connected to the
former paramilitaries or traditional political elites. In
general, parties associated with the para-political scandal
lost ground--though candidates with ties to para-politicians

won in Cordoba and Sucre. Post will provide a complete
analysis on key races and implications--including the
para-political scandal--via septel.

----------------------------
SUCCESSFUL SECURITY MEASURES
----------------------------

6. Only isolated acts of violence marred the elections.
Fighting between security forces and the FARC forced voting
to be postponed in the small town of Argelia, Cauca
department, and in Castilla de Nueva, Meta. In Cordoba,
supporters of a losing candidate reportedly burned down the
winner's home. On October 25, General Luis Alberto Perez,
commander of the 13th Brigade in Bogota announced the arrest
of seven FARC members in the Bogota neighborhood of San
Cristobal who were allegedly planning elections-related
attacks. The GOC implemented enhanced security measures
before the elections including a ban on liquor sales,
restrictions on motorcycles (frequently used in assassination
attempts), and increased security at critical infrastructure
targets.
Brownfield

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