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Cablegate: Charge Discusses Venezuela, Ecuador and Mercosur with Acting

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S E C R E T BOGOTA 003585

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/21
TAGS: PREL UNSC MARR ENRG PREF CO VE EC UY
SUBJECT: Charge Discusses Venezuela, Ecuador and Mercosur with Acting
Foreign Minister

CLASSIFIED BY: Brian A. Nicho...


id: 240964
date: 12/21/2009 14:05
refid: 09BOGOTA3585
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: SECRET//NOFORN
destination:
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DE RUEHBO #3585/01 3551405
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INFO RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
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S E C R E T BOGOTA 003585

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/21
TAGS: PREL UNSC MARR ENRG PREF CO VE EC UY
SUBJECT: Charge Discusses Venezuela, Ecuador and Mercosur with Acting
Foreign Minister

CLASSIFIED BY: Brian A. Nichols, Deputy Chief of Mission; REASON:
1.4(B), (D)

Summary
-------

1. (C) Acting Foreign Minister Clemencia Forero told the Charge on
December 18 that the GOC had sent a letter to UN Security Council
members responding to Venezuela's call for a discussion on the
alleged international threat posed by Colombia's security problems.
The letter was intended to give UNSC members the facts and full
picture necessary to dismiss Venezuela's request. Forero said the
GOC was concerned that the worsening domestic situation in
Venezuela would lead Chavez to do something rash. She also
complained of BRV harassment of Colombian consuls outside of
Caracas. Turning to Ecuador, Forero said the GOC was taking great
care to keep rapprochement on track, and would supply energy to
relieve some of Ecuador's shortage. The recently appointed
Ecuadoran Charge told us the same day that the two countries had
made good progress on the roadmap announced by both Foreign
Ministers in New York in September, but estimated it would be a
least a year before Ecuador was ready to name an Ambassador to
Colombia. Scanning the rest of the region, the Colombian MFA was
pleased that MERCOSUR members had abandoned Chavez' continued
criticism of the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA)
and hoped Uruguayan President-Elect Jose Mujica would prove to be a
pragmatic leader the GOC could work with. End Summary.

Discrediting Venezuela's UNSC Ploy
----------------------------------

2. (S) Acting Foreign Minister Clemencia Forero requested a meeting
December 18 with Charge d'Affaires to explain the letter the GOC
sent to UN Security Council members in response to Venezuela's call
for a UNSC discussion on the alleged international threat posed by
Colombia's security problems. Forero said it was clear that
Venezuela submitted the petition to divert attention from
Venezuela's internal problems and aggressive posture towards
Colombia. She explained the GOC sent its letter so that UNSC
members that do not follow Colombia closely would have the facts
and full picture necessary to dismiss Venezuela's request. She
hoped that the issue would fade, and said the GOC would not
escalate the argument further. The Charge replied that the USG
supported Colombia's position, and that it seemed most UNSC members
saw through Venezuela's ploy.

Besieged Chavez Could Do Something Rash
---------------------------------------

3. (S/NF) Forero said that the GOC and some "intelligent"
Venezuelan contacts (including former minister Asdrubal Aguiar)
were concerned that the worsening domestic situation in Venezuela
(crime, press freedoms, banks, corruption, food, etc.) would lead
President Hugo Chavez to do something rash out of desperation.
Forero said the GOC was considering whether to invoke the
still-in-force bilateral 1939 Treaty on Non-Aggression,
Conciliation, Arbitration, and Judicial Resolution (ratified in
1941 by Colombia and Venezuela) to help dissuade Venezuela from any
aggressive actions. The treaty stipulates a conciliation
commission and several mediation steps culminating with the
International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague to avoid
conflict. Forero said Chavez might not be aware of the treaty and
that Venezuela has historically disliked being a party to ICJ
cases. She said the GOC was keeping the treaty in its pocket
pending further analysis, and asked us not to raise it with others
at this point.

4. (S) Forero noted that BRV support for the FARC continued, citing
the incorporation of the FARC into Chavez' Bolivarian Continental
Movement. She also complained that Colombian consuls in cities
like Valencia, Merida, and Barinas were being harassed, restricted
in their travel and access (especially near the border), and even
threatened with PNG declarations. The harassment included daily
protests, heckling and loudspeakers blasting anti-Colombian
sentiments at the consulate. The BRV was not renewing some


consuls' visas (though the BRV did grant pending visas for
diplomats assigned to the Embassy in Caracas). Charge noted that
the BRV also restricted the travel of U.S. diplomats to the border
area and suggested that the aggrieved consuls share their
experiences to the U.S. Embassy in Caracas if possible.

GOC Nurturing Improved Relations with Ecuador
---------------------------------------------

5. (C) Forero said the GOC was very pleased with the improving
relationship with Ecuador, and was caring for it like one would "a
premature baby." She called good relations with Ecuador
"fundamental" for Colombia, adding that Colombia hoped to keep
Ecuador from Chavez' grasp. She said it was rumored that
Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Fander Falconi would be stepping down
soon, which would be a huge blow given his professionalism and
constructive disposition. Forero said Colombia agreed to help
Ecuador with its current energy shortages. Though Colombia could
not provide all of the energy Ecuador needed for technical and
domestic consumption reasons, it would provide a much energy as it
could to help alleviate what seemed to be a serious problem.

6. (C) Charge met separately with Andres Teran, Ecuador's Charge in
Colombia (arrived November 23 after diplomatic relations were
reestablished), and his Political Counselor on November 18. Teran
said he had been very well received by the GOC and highlighted the
resumption of the joint border committee (COMBIFRON), direct
mil-mil dialogue, and two meetings on sensitive issues as signs of
an improving relationship. He arranged a meeting between both
countries' Ministers of Energy in Medellin on December 17 where the
GOC was very generous in offering a permanent and stable supply of
energy to Ecuador to alleviate its energy shortage. He said talks
aiming to further improve relations were paused for the holidays,
but would resume in January. Teran thought that it would be at
least a year before Ecuador would be ready to name an Ambassador to
Colombia, as the points in the September roadmap had to be
completed first. The Charges discussed the difficult situation
along the border, with Charge Nichols offering USG cooperation,
especially with Colombian refugees. Teran said Ecuador also valued
its relationship with the United States, and praised the bilateral
dialogue series and Embassy Quito.

MERCOSUR Abandoned Chavez' DCA Complaints
-----------------------------------------

7. (S) Forero said the GOC was satisfied that the swell of MERCOSUR
criticism of the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA)
had subsided. She said Brazil had come to terms with the agreement
and that MERCOSUR was fed up with Chavez' ranting, leaving
Venezuela alone in its alarmist declarations. Forero cited good
cooperation with Paraguay and Uruguay, though expressed some
concern over the unknowns regarding Uruguayan president-elect Jose
Mujica's leanings. She said Mujica seemed to have put his
checkered past behind him, but that his congresswoman wife was
"very radical."
BROWNFIELD

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

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