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Cablegate: Uribe Hears War Drums in Venezuela

VZCZCXYZ0013
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #3335 3131541
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O R 091541Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0786
INFO RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0008
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0161
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0633
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

S E C R E T BOGOTA 003335

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/09
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR KJUS MOPS OAS CO VE
SUBJECT: URIBE HEARS WAR DRUMS IN VENEZUELA

REF: A) BOGOTA 3313; B) CARACAS 1426

CLASSIFIED BY: William R. Brownfield, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (S) Just after meeting with President Uribe and the military
high command, Minister of Defense Gabriel Silva called the
Ambassador on the evening of November 8. They believe that
Venezuelan President Chavez' public declarations earlier that
afternoon represented a major ratcheting up of war rhetoric. The
GOC regards the rhetoric as threatening. Silva acknowledged that
the GOC and USG analyzed Chavez' intentions differently, but he
asked for two actions by the USG:


-- First, an immediate analysis of Venezuelan military movements
toward the border, and accelerated real time intelligence on such
movements in the future.

-- Second, some sort of USG public comment on Chavez' warlike
rhetoric.


The Ambassador said he was unaware (at that time) of Chavez' latest
declarations; he would work to accelerate our analysis of possible
military movements on the Venezuelan side of the border; and he
would consult with Washington on any USG public response.


2. (C) Immediately after the MOD call, President Uribe called the
Ambassador. Uribe repeated most of Silva's points about Chavez'
latest rhetoric. He said the latest uptick was something he could
not ignore, as Colombian public opinion would not permit it. He
had to respond in some way. Uribe planned to release a communique
that evening (Note: It was released and covered in the morning
press. End note.) making four points:


-- GOC did not seek armed conflict with any other nation.

-- Colombian military efforts were directed against
narcotrafficking and terrorism.

-- GOC supported resolving differences by dialogue through
international law.

-- But in light of Chavez' latest declarations, GOC would submit
this matter to the UN Security Council and the Organization of
American States (OAS).


3. (S) Uribe asked what the Ambassador advised. The Ambassador
asked if he had spoken to Brazilian President Lula. Uribe said no,
but he would do so. The Ambassador suggested that Uribe ask
himself what Chavez would want him to do, and then do something
different. If Chavez wanted him to respond with heated rhetoric
that would help him conceal internal problems in Venezuela from his
own people, then Uribe should not fall into that trap. Uribe
agreed. He asked for any further advice the USG might offer.


4. (S) AMBASSADOR'S COMMENT: This is further evidence that the
Colombians are working themselves into a sweat over the potential
military threat from Venezuela. We will work directly with
SouthCom and ORA on the GOC request for accelerated intelligence on
military movements in Venezuela. We do not regard Chavez' latest
blast as a significant increase over what he has already said, and
do not necessarily recommend that Washington treat this as a
genuine crisis. Obviously, we will have to determine our posture
should the GOC submit this issue to the Security Council or OAS.
Equally obviously, we should factor into our thinking the fact that
the GOC has become almost neuralgic about the Venezuela threat.
Correct or not, it is something we must consider as we make our own
policy decisions in the region. End Comment.
BROWNFIELD

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