Viewing cable 07BOGOTA7158
Title: FARC TIE RELEASE OF "SONIA" AND "SIMON TRINIDAD"

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07BOGOTA71582007-10-03 23:25:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
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C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 007158 
 
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/04/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL PTER PREF VZ CO
SUBJECT: FARC TIE RELEASE OF "SONIA" AND "SIMON TRINIDAD" 
TO RELEASE OF U.S. HOSTAGES 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor John S. Creamer 
Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
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SUMMARY 
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¶1. (C) The FARC published an editorial on October 2 calling 
for the GOC to grant a demilitarized zone for talks on a 
humanitarian accord and demanding the release of FARC members 
"Sonia" and "Simon Trinidad" from U.S. custody as part of a 
deal.  Catholic priest Father Echeverri, who attended 
Venezuelan President Chavez' September 25 meeting with 
Senator Piedad Cordoba and the U.S. hostages' family members, 
told us Chavez and Cordoba believe the USG will negotiate the 
sentences of "Sonia" and "Simon" and are advising the FARC to 
insist on their inclusion in an exchange.  End Summary 
 
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FARC TIES U.S. HOSTAGES TO "SIMON" AND "SONIA" 
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¶2. (U) On October 2, the FARC's official website published an 
editorial, dated September 28 and authored by FARC 
Secretariat member "Ivan Marquez," calling on the GOC to 
 
SIPDIS 
grant the group a demilitarized zone ("despeje") and 
demanding the release of FARC members "Sonia" and "Simon 
Trinidad" from U.S. custody as part of a "humanitarian 
exchange" of FARC-held hostages for FARC members in Colombian 
jails.  "Ivan Marquez" said U.S. hostages Marc Gonsalves, 
Keith Stansell, and Thomas Howes were "spies captured in 
Colombia on a technical intelligence mission,"   and called 
their extradition "blackmail." He said the "easy road" would 
be an "exchange of complete packets of prisoners in custody 
of the contending parties."  Commenting on President Uribe's 
statements that the GOC will not seek the release of FARC 
members convicted in the United States, Marquez concluded, 
"You cannot call it an exchange if one of the parties does 
not receive their people." 
 
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CHAVEZ: SHORT WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY 
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¶3. (C) Catholic Church and Conciliation Commission 
representative Father Dario Echeverri told us September 28 he 
spoke privately with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for 
15-20 minutes, after attending Chavez' September 25 meeting 
with Senator Piedad Cordoba and the U.S. hostage families. 
Chavez was well-informed about Echeverri's efforts to promote 
a FARC-ELN cease-fire in Arauca, and asked Echeverri to 
review past Catholic Church efforts to negotiate a 
humanitarian exchange with the FARC.  Echeverri told Chavez 
he had a 15 minute window of opportunity in which to achieve 
an accord.  He urged Chavez not to repeat the mistakes of 
past facilitation efforts by focusing on issues such as a 
despeje or concentrating his message on FARC leader Manuel 
Marulanda.  (Note: Echeverri has previously told us he thinks 
Marulanda is either dead or incapacitated.)  Echeverri told 
Chavez he should present new formulas and aim his dialogue at 
the entire FARC Secretariat.  Chavez said he appreciated the 
advice, adding that GOV officials met with a FARC Secretariat 
member (likely "Ivan Marquez") in Venezuela while Cordoba was 
meeting with Raul Reyes in Colombia. 
 
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CHAVEZ AND CORDOBA EXPECT USG DEAL ON SIMON AND SONIA 
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¶4. (C) Echeverri said the FARC's "advisors" --Cordoba and 
Chavez-- are telling the FARC they should pressure the USG by 
linking the release of the U.S. hostages to the return of 
Sonia and Simon.  He said FARC Secretariat member Fabian 
Ramirez would likely try to add his brother, FARC member 
Erminson Cabreras Cuevas ("Mincho"),  who was extradited to 
the United States on September 20.  Cordoba and Venezuelan 
Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro told Echeverri in Caracas the 
USG would accept a "triangulation" in which the USG would 
send Simon and Sonia to France. The French would then return 
them to Colombia.  Cordoba and Maduro dismissed Uribe's 
comments that the GOC opposes the two's return, saying this 
 
would not stop the USG from sending them to a third country. 
Echeverri said Chavez, Cordoba, and Maduro believe the USG is 
willing to negotiate Simon's and Sonia's sentences. 
 
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CHAVEZ: RESPECTFUL MEETING WITH U.S. FAMILIES 
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¶5. (C) Echeverri told us Chavez managed the meeting with the 
U.S. hostage family members extremely well.  He quickly won 
the hearts of the two young children in the group, and 
through them, the other family members.  It made for very 
effective television, he added.  Chavez guided the 
conversation to reflect his points, noting at one point that 
"he feared the FARC would insist on equivalence between the 
three U.S. hostages, Simon and Sonia."  Still, Chavez was 
respectful of President Bush and the families.  Echeverri 
said Chavez claimed he knew the task would be difficult, but 
stressed his commitment to achieve the hostages' release. 
Brownfield