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Cablegate: Tfha01: Colombian Response to Haitian Earthquake

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 000136

SENSITIVE
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AEMR MARR PREL KPKO AORC CO HA
SUBJECT: TFHA01: COLOMBIAN RESPONSE TO HAITIAN EARTHQUAKE

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) The Government of Colombia (GOC) sent an Air Force B-727
to Haiti to participate in humanitarian relief operations on the
morning of January 14. The flight carried 7 doctors, 20 search and
rescue officials, and emergency food and medical supplies.
Colombian officials said the flight was unable to land due to air
congestion in Port-au-Prince and may have been diverted to the
Dominican Republic. The GOC plans to send additional personnel and
supplies by C-130 once it assesses the most urgent needs. VMOD
Eastman told the Ambassador the GOC would make Colombian military
bases available to the U.S. and third countries to support relief
efforts in Haiti--such an effort would highlight the humanitarian
importance of the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement.

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2. (U) Although Colombia does not have an Embassy in Haiti, the
Colombian Ambassador to the Dominican Republic is dual accredited
to Haiti. An estimated 400 Colombian citizens live in Haiti, and
Colombian aircraft plan to evacuate those Colombian citizens who
wish to depart. Colombia has 26 police officers in Haiti as part
of MINUSTAH, all of whom have been accounted for. Colombian
President Alvaro Uribe expressed solidarity with the people of
Haiti and announced his intention to personally visit Haiti on
January 17 if circumstances permit. End Summary.

COLOMBIAN ASSISTANCE
--------------------

3. (SBU) Colombia sent an Air Force B-727 to Haiti on January 14 to
participate in humanitarian operations. The flight departed from
Colombian Air Force Air Transport Command (CATAM) in Bogota at
approximately 8:00am EST. The personnel on board included 20
search and rescue experts (including trained dogs and handlers) and
seven doctors specialized in treating trauma patients. The cargo
included medical supplies, a mobile field hospital donated by the
Colombian Army, emergency food and water supplies and several
satellite telephones. (Note: As of 3:00pm EST on January 14, the
aircraft had not landed due to flight congestion and may have been
diverted to the Dominican Republic. End note).

4. (SBU) Colombian Minister of Interior and Justice Fabio Valencia
Cossio, Vice Minister of Defense Alejandro Arbelaez and General
Tito Pinilla traveled to Haiti separately on a Citation-550
aircraft and reportedly reached Port-au-Prince at around 1:30pm EST
on January 14. The GOC officials will assess the situation and
advise what supplies are needed most urgently. The GOC plans to
send a C-130 aircraft with several pallets of relief supplies as
soon as possible, but the Air Force is holding the flight due to
reports of air congestion in Port-au-Prince. The Defense Ministry
announced it is also prepared to send relief supplies by ship from
the port of Cartagena, including heavy equipment for
reconstruction.

GOC OFFERS BASES FOR REGIONAL EFFORTS
-------------------------------------

5. (SBU) The Colombian Defense Ministry offered the use of several
Colombian airports and military installations to third countries
participating in the relief efforts in Haiti. Vice Minister of
Defense Jorge Mario Eastman told the Ambassador on January 14 that
Colombian bases such as Palanquero or Malambo (Barranquilla) (which
are listed under the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement
(DCA)) could be utilized by the U.S. military or third countries to
support aid to Haiti. The facilities could be used for transit,
re-fueling and supply of aircraft and crews who are participating
in aid operations.

COLOMBIAN PRESENCE IN HAITI
--------------------------

6. (U) Colombia does not have an Embassy in Haiti, although the
Colombian Ambassador to the Dominican Republic - retired General
Mario Montoya - is also accredited to Haiti. Foreign Ministry
officials told us that Colombian consular officials from the
Dominican Republic were traveling to Haiti to assist the estimated
400 Colombian citizens believed to live in Haiti. Foreign Ministry
officials said that Colombian aircraft will bring back any
Colombian citizens who wish to return to Colombia. They indicated
that they had not received any reports of any missing or injured
Colombian citizens. (Note: Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba
reported that her sister Marta Lia, who works for the United

BOGOTA 00000136 002 OF 002


Nations in Haiti, survived the earthquake and is in good
condition.)

7. (U) Colombia currently has 26 police officers in Haiti as part
of MINUSTAH, led by Colombian Lieutenant Colonel Santiago Camelo.
According to the Defense Ministry, all of these personnel have been
accounted for.

GOC COORDINATION
----------------

8. (SBU) The Colombian Ministry of Interior and Justice formed a
control center to coordinate the GOC's aid efforts in Haiti. The
GOC reportedly plans to set up a coordination center at the
Port-au-Prince airport. The Colombian Government plans to channel
its aid to Haiti through the United Nations.

URIBE SENDS SOLIDARITY MESSAGE
-----------------------------

9. (U) The GOC announced support for Haiti on January 12.
President Alvaro Uribe sent a message of solidarity to the people
of Haiti on January 14 and pledged Colombia's support to the relief
efforts. Uribe also announced his intention to personally visit
Haiti on January 17 if circumstances permit.

10. (U) Minimize considered.
BROWNFIELD

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