Viewing cable 07BOGOTA8224
Title: GOC ENDS CHAVEZ/CORDOBA "HUMANITARIAN EXCHANGE"

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07BOGOTA82242007-11-24 15:21:00 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 008224 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/23/2017 
TAGS: PREL PREF PTER PHUM VZ CO
SUBJECT: GOC ENDS CHAVEZ/CORDOBA "HUMANITARIAN EXCHANGE" 
EFFORTS--GOC TO SEEK "HUMANITARIAN SOLUTION" 
 
REF: BOGOTA 8160 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William R. Brownfield - Reasons 1.4 (b,d) 
 
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Summary 
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¶1. (C) President Alvaro Uribe terminated the mandates of 
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Colombian Senator Piedad 
Cordoba in the "humanitarian exchange" process on November 
21, after the two intermediaries phoned and spoke with 
Colombian Army Commander Montoya.  Uribe previously told 
Chavez that he did not have authorization to contact 
Colombian military personnel.  The decision follows a 
November 20 pronouncement to put a December 31 time limit on 
the Chavez effort.  FM Araujo told the Ambassador that the 
GOC will continue to search for a "humanitarian solution" to 
the hostage crisis, and that Peace Commissioner Restrepo 
would attempt to engage the FARC.  The GOC would accept 
advice from the international community, Araujo said, but no 
longer seeks new third country intermediaries.   The 
Ambassador told Araujo that we also had concerns over the 
Chavez effort, and accepted the sovereign GOC decision.  The 
Ambassador urged the GOC to keep hostage family concerns in 
mind as it moved ahead, and said he would recommend a new USG 
approach to the French, if the GOC requested it.  Uribe's 
move met with general support in Colombia--and came as Gallup 
released a new poll showing 78 percent of Colombians approve 
of his performance as President.  End summary. 
 
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GOC Reacts to Chavez Call to Colombian Army Chief 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
¶2. (U) At the November 9 Ibero-American Summit in Chile, 
President Uribe rebuffed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' 
request to speak directly to Army Commander General Mario 
Montoya or other Colombian generals.  Despite that, on 
November 21, exchange facilitator Senator Piedad Cordoba 
placed a call to Montoya, for details on military hostages 
held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). 
Montoya spoke briefly with Chavez, providing little 
substantive information.  He immediately called President 
Uribe to report the call. 
 
¶3. (SBU) The GOC issued a short communique on November 21 at 
22:00 stating, "the President of the Republic hereby ends the 
facilitation effort of Senator Piedad Cordoba and the 
mediation of President Hugo Chavez, who we thank for the 
assistance they have provided."  Uribe consulted with Peace 
Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo and other advisors before 
making the decision, which Restrepo told us had been 
building.  It follows Uribe's November 20 decision to put a 
December 31 time limit on the Chavez effort, and growing GOC 
frustration over Chavez' decision to carry on negotiations in 
public (reftel). Restrepo said the GOC will continue to seek 
a "humanitarian solution" that frees the hostages, but said 
the GOC could not accept continued FARC delaying tactics or 
solutions that threatened the GOC "democratic security" 
policy. 
 
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FM Explains Decision and Way Ahead 
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¶4. (C) On November 23, Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo 
called the Ambassador to brief him on the GOC's decision. 
The FM said the GOC remained committed to intense efforts to 
produce a humanitarian solution for the FARC hostages. 
Still, the GOC concluded over the past three weeks that 
Chavez had not honored the agreement reached in August when 
Uribe authorized him to engage the FARC.  Araujo said Chavez 
was involved in too much public commentary, despite Uribe's 
having requested him not to do so, and had publicly 
misrepresented things that he and Uribe had discussed or 
agreed.  Third, and the final straw, occurred when Chavez 
reached out directly to Montoya despite Uribe's having 
specifically asked him not to do so. 
 
¶5. (C) Araujo said the GOC believed, and would state 
publicly, that Chavez meant well, but the manner in which he 
 
conducted his efforts was unacceptable.  Uribe decided to end 
the effort before the bilateral relationship suffered in 
areas beyond the hostages.  The GOC hoped this decision would 
not affect the bilateral relationship with Venezuela, and 
Araujo said he would take steps to make sure that did not 
happen. 
 
¶6. (C) The Ambassador asked Araujo how the GOC would pursue a 
possible humanitarian solution to the hostages from this 
moment on.   Araujo confirmed that Restrepo would manage the 
process and attempt to engage the FARC.  While the GOC would 
accept advice and support from the international community, 
it  would not ask any third country to intervene. 
 
¶7. (C) Araujo then asked how the USG would react to this 
decision, and whether we would engage the French.  The 
Ambassador responded that this was a sovereign decision for 
the GOC.  We had our own concerns about Chavez' intentions, 
and the GOC decision was consistent with those concerns.  The 
Ambassador emphasized that it remained important to keep the 
hostage families in mind as the GOC announced and implemented 
decisions on the hostages.  It was important not to permit 
Chavez to blame others besides the FARC for this decision. 
The Ambassador told Araujo that we had communicated our views 
to the French several times on the hostage issue, and added 
that he could make a recommendation to Washington to contact 
the French again if the GOC thought it necessary. 
 
¶8. (U) Numerous contacts in Congress and civil society--many 
of whom thought inviting Chavez into the process a bad idea 
to begin with--said Uribe's decision to cut off the Chavez 
line was a good one, but a blow to hostage families.  Media 
commentators highlighted whether the "humanitarian solution" 
phrase indicated a prohibition on negotiation with the FARC 
or on international involvement.   Meanwhile, a newly 
released Gallup poll for November shows Uribe with a 78 
percent approval rating. 
 
Brownfield