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Cablegate: Farc Kidnaps Colombian Governor From His Residence

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DE RUEHBO #3599 3561841
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R 221841Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1711
INFO RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
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RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BOGOTA 003599

SENSITIVE
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER MOPS MCAP PHUM PGOV ASEC CO
SUBJECT: FARC KIDNAPS COLOMBIAN GOVERNOR FROM HIS RESIDENCE

1. (SBU) On the evening of December 21, approximately ten
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) fighters dressed in
Colombian military uniforms kidnapped the governor of Colombia's
Caqueta department from his residence in Florencia. The
kidnappers, believed to belong to the FARC'S Teofilo Forero Mobile
Column, arrived in a pick-up truck and attacked the home of
Governor Luis Francisco Cuellar with hand grenades and gunfire,
killing one police security guard and wounding two others. The
governor was abducted and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
According to the police, this is the fifth time that Cuellar has
been kidnapped. On December 9, the FARC unsuccessfully attempted
to kidnap the Mayor of San Vicente de Caguan (also in Caqueta
department), leaving one police officer dead.

2. (SBU) On December 22, President Uribe ordered the Colombian
military to launch a rescue operation, and the Defense Ministry is
offering a one billion peso (approximately US$500,000) reward for
information leading to the governor's recovery. Defense Minister
Gabriel Silva, National Police Director General Oscar Naranjo and
Armed Forces Commander Freddy Padilla are reportedly traveling to
the area to oversee rescue operations.

3. (SBU) Numerous security forces and assets are being deployed to
prevent Cuellar from being moved to a remote, jungle location.
U.S. support offered through the Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS)
includes approximately four airplanes and five helicopters. Some
200 mobile police (Carabineros), who just completed training at the
NAS-funded Carabineros school, and other NAS-supported police
special forces were also sent to the area.

4. (SBU) Comment: This bold, high-profile kidnapping just four
days before Christmas, is a calculated move by the FARC to
demonstrate that it is still relevant and to discredit President
Uribe's Democratic Security policy ahead of the 2010 elections.
The FARC leadership has been attempting to leverage release of the
remaining political hostages to obtain political oxygen, but may
have determined the shock value of this kidnapping would outweigh
the domestic and international public backlash. Although this is
the first high-profile kidnapping in years, the FARC have been
engaged in a continued campaign of targeted kidnapping,
assassination and intimidation of local political leaders. In
2009, 12 council members have been murdered, two others taken
hostage and more than 30 have been attacked. On October 18, the
FARC killed two council members in Sumapaz, a town on the outskirts
of Bogota. End Comment.
BROWNFIELD

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