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Cablegate: Chavez Meets Farc Rep, Sandbags Colombia

VZCZCXRO5176
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHCV #2172 3172139
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 132139Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0081
INFO RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS

C O N F I D E N T I A L CARACAS 002172

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NSC FOR DFISK AND DTOMLINSON
USSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
DEPT PASS TO AID/OTI RPORTER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/29/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PTER CO VE
SUBJECT: CHAVEZ MEETS FARC REP, SANDBAGS COLOMBIA

REF: BOGOTA 08001

Classified By: Robert Downes, Political Counselor,
for Reason 1.4(b and d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: President Hugo Chavez met November 8 with
FARC representative Ivan Marquez and Colombian Senator Piedad
Cordoba. Although highly anticipated, the Bolivarian
Republic of Venezuela (BRV) gave the Colombian government no
official prior notification. In an unstructured press
availability following the meeting, Chavez said this would be
the first in a series of meetings with the FARC and issued a
vague promise to meet FARC supreme commander Manuel
Marulanda. Chavez said publicly he hopes to be able to
provide proof of life for French/Colombian dual national
Ingrid Betancourt during his November 20 meeting with French
President Sarkozy. French embassy officials rate the
likelihood of his providing such evidence at about 60%.
According to the French DCM the FARC may also provide proof
of life for the three AmCit hostages. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) FARC Representative Ivan Marquez and Colombian
Senator Piedad Cordoba met with the press outside the
Miraflores presidential palace following their November 8
meeting with Chavez. Cordoba said that although many
difficult issues remain, &an important door had been
opened.8 She added that proof of life of the 45 hostages in
FARC hands was &the important next step8. Chavez asserted
that Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda had ordered field FARC field
commanders to send the Venezuelan leader proof of life,
adding that he hoped to have proof of Colombian Presidential
candidate Ingrid Betancourt's safety before he traveled to
Paris on November 20.

3. (C) French Deputy Chief of Mission Dominique Mas
(Protect) told PolCouns November 13 that Chavez had received
a special French emissary to discuss the negotiations and
that Chavez felt he could produce proof of life for
Franco-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt and possibly the three
U.S. DEA contractors for his November 20 meeting with French
President Nicolas Sarkozy. While the French estimate Chavez
has a 60% chance of meeting that goal, they conceded that
"something is happening" and think that recent FARC reverses
in the field, (REFTEL) combined with the letter from Simon
Trinidad and Sonia have put the FARC in the position of
needing to cut a deal. Mas speculated that women, children
and infirmed FARC hostages might be exchanged for imprisoned
FARC females; adding, "If Chavez can't do it, who will?"

4. (SBU) Chavez hedged his chances of success by calling
the open door "large and heavy." He said that a meeting with
FARC leader Marulanda was on both of their agendas and that
only, "a date, place and time" were needed. FARC emissary
Marquez added that the meeting would take place in the El
Yari jungle of Colombia's Caqueta department, where Chavez
would find Marulanda "leading fighters." The Colombian Peace
Commission indicated that Chavez had not informed them of the
meeting with the FARC (REFTEL) as required by the
facilitation agreement and only heard of it from the media.


DUDDY

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

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