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Cablegate: Vice Minister of Defense Jaramillo Resigns Over Third Term,

VZCZCXYZ1799
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #3593/01 3552321
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 212320Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1698
INFO RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA

C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 003593

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/21
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PTER CO
SUBJECT: VICE MINISTER OF DEFENSE JARAMILLO RESIGNS OVER THIRD TERM,
DEMOCRATIC SECURITY

REF: BOGOTA 3375

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

Summary
-------

1. (C) Vice Minister of Defense Sergio Jaramillo resigned on
December 17. He told the Charge d'Affaires on December 18 that
despite his poor relationship with Minister of Defense Gabriel
Silva Lujan, the real reason for his departure was his disagreement
with President Alvaro Uribe's intention to stand for a third term.
Jaramillo laid out these concerns in a December 20 editorial in
which he concluded that Uribe's intention to remain in office would
undercut gains achieved under his own "Democratic Security Policy."
Nevertheless, Jaramillo relayed to the Charge his dissatisfaction
with Silva's management of the Ministry of Defense (MOD).
Jaramillo's departure, while not a complete surprise, represents
the loss of the MOD's (and perhaps the GOC's) best strategic
thinker and nearly eight years of institutional memory. End
summary.

Reasons for Resignation
-----------------------

2. (C) Vice Minister of Defense Sergio Jaramillo called on the
Charge December 18 to personally convey the news of his
resignation. He thanked the USG for its support during his tenure.
VMOD Jaramillo explained that news of his resignation was already
out along with rumors as to why. He said that despite rumors of
his contentious relations with MOD Silva, he had been considering
resigning for over six months due to his profound concerns over
President Uribe's third term re-election push.

3. (C) Jaramillo said that the December 2008 jamming through of the
referendum legislation and Uribe's subsequent political posturing
had made it clear that Uribe was serious about reelection to a
third term and not simply posturing to avoid lame-duck status.
Jaramillo continued that democratic security represented, at its
essence, an exercise in institution building. Uribe's drive for
re-election undercut the next stage of democratic security by
weakening Colombia's institutions. Furthermore, Uribe's focus on
politics has prompted him to avoid dealing with tough issues such
as corruption (he cited the ArangoBacci case, ref a), while
instead seeking to solidify his political base around the country
through patronage.

4. (C) Jaramillo said that a new president, like former Minister of
Defense Juan Manuel Santos (and Jaramillo's mentor), could
aggressively address the next stage of state building and
democratic security and demonstrate that Colombia was far bigger
than one man. Despite his close links to Santos, Jaramillo did not
tell the former minister of his resignation beforehand.

MOD Silva's Management
----------------------

5. (C) In response to Charge's question, Jaramillo said that rumors
of Silva's brusque, rude, and detached management style were true.
He recalled that Silva had recently insulted him over a perceived
failure to inform him on a policy issue. Jaramillo said that Silva
often ignored briefing memos and still has not read the "Strategic
Leap" comprehensive strategy. Silva has "no relationship" with
Chief of Defense Freddy Padilla and is largely ignorant of military
operations, he added. Jaramillo opined that Silva does not
understand his role, having skipped meetings with SOUTHCOM
Commander Douglas Fraser and Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights Kyung-wha Kang to meet with Colombian miners expelled from
Venezuela -- a waste of time in Jaramillo's view. Jaramillo called
Silva smart with good instincts on human rights, but arrogant and
ill informed; a "very dangerous combination." He credited
Colombian National Police Commander General Oscar Naranjo as one of
the few people able to manage him.

Loose Ends
----------

6. (C) The Vice Minister will serve until January 4 and remains
focused on resolving outstanding International Humanitarian Law
(IHL) and human rights issues before him. Jaramillo worried that
without GOC progress on the Soacha extrajudicial executions case,
the government would be open to action by the International
Criminal Court, for example. He was most proud of his work in
completing an operational law manual to help commanders navigate
the complex IHL/HR issues inherent in the Colombian conflict with
both criminal and insurgent actors. Jaramillo said he was
physically tired and wanted to rest after nearly eight years in
government. He mentioned that he had some concerns about his
personal security given his years of pushing the military on human
rights issues but was confident the GOC would provide him
appropriate protection. He was also worried that the Inspector
General (Procuraduria) might revive a slander case lodged against
him by an army coronel who was dismissed for alleged human rights
abuses. He had no plans for the future beyond occasionally writing
on events in Colombia and the region. He lamented the paucity of
good analysis in the Colombian press and felt he could add to the
debate.

Publicly Disagreeing with Reelection
------------------------------------

7. (C) Jaramillo followed up his resignation with an op-ed piece in
leading news daily El Tiempo on December 20 in which he indirectly
linked his decision to resign to Uribe's attempts to stay in
office. Democratic Security, he posited, sought to spread the
State's authority and legitimacy to all of Colombia. Extending a
presidential term to continue the policy, he asserted, constituted
a change in the "rules of the game" that would jeopardize the
legitimacy of the State and undermine the principles inherent in
Democratic Security. While paying deference to President Uribe, he
argued that anyone who believes in Colombia's tradition of
democracy cannot be in favor of changing the proposed
constitutional reform to permit a third term.

Comment: Losing a Valued Partner
---------------------------------

8. (C) Jaramillo told President Uribe after the departure of
Minister Santos last May that he would stay through the end of the
Administration. We do not doubt his decision to leave sooner is
based on his objections to reelection. However, his distant
relationship with Silva was likely a catalyst. Jaramillo's
departure robs the MOD (and perhaps the GOC as a whole) of its most
strategic thinker. A scholarly technocrat with little talent for
operations, Jaramillo had focused on global policy issues such as
human rights, public diplomacy against the Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the exterior, and the National
Consolidation Plan. Jaramillo was also a key USG interlocutor,
having played key roles in the negotiation of the Defense
Cooperation Agreement and the pending Colombian military deployment
to Afghanistan.
BROWNFIELD

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

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