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Viewing cable 06BOGOTA10114, U/S BURNS' OCTOBER 25 LUNCH MEETING WITH COLOMBIAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BOGOTA10114 2006-11-01 15:03 2011-02-23 06:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
VZCZCXRO6486
OO RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL
RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHBO #0114/01 3051552
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 011552Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0384
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 010114 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/25/2016 
TAGS: KJUS PGOV PHUM PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: U/S BURNS' OCTOBER 25 LUNCH MEETING WITH COLOMBIAN 
OPINION MAKERS 


Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Milton K. Drucker
Reason: 1.5 (b,d) 

1. (U) October 25, 2006; 1400PM. 

2. (U) Participants: 

U.S. 

Under Secretary Burns 
A/S for WHA Thomas P. Shannon 
Ambassador William B. Wood 
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mary Lee Warren 
DCM Milton Drucker
Daniel Tomlinson, NSC 
Attorney Advisor Patricia Prugh, L 
Political Counselor John Creamer 
P Special Assistant HeideBronke
Political Officer Stacy Pearce (notetaker) 

COLOMBIA 

RhettDoumitt, AFL-CIO Solidarity Center 
Alvaro Forero, Forero Associates
Mauricio Garcia, CINEP 
Sergio Jaramillo Caro, Ideas forPeaceFoundation
Jorge Alberto JulianLondono de la Cuesta, Gallup 
Colombia/Invamer Ltda. 
Rodrigo Saiz Silva, AKIRIS de Colombia
Enrique Santos, Director of El Tiempo newspaper and a member
of the family that owns the paper. 
Miguel Silva, Gravitas Ltda. 
Leon Valencia, New Rainbow Foundation 

------- 
Summary 
------- 

3. (C) U/S Burns reiterated U.S. support for Plan Colombia 
Consolidation with key opinion makers, but said some in the 
U.S. Congress and human rights NGOs advocated stronger 
punishment for demobilized paramilitaries.  Colombian 
attendees differed on top priorities: some said Colombia's 
greatest challenge was bringing ex-paramilitaries to justice; 
others insisted Colombians' highest priorities were citizen 
security and economic growth.  The opinion makers voiced 
concern that the GOC would divert new tax revenues from 
programs required to consolidate recent security gains toward 
matching Venezuela's on-going arms-build-up.  WHA A/S Shannon 
said it would be a mistake for Colombia to play into Chavez's 
hands.  End Summary. 

--------------------------------------------- -------- 
Continued Support for Plan Colombia and U.S. Concerns 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 

4. (C) In a lunch with Colombian opinion makers, U/S Burns 
said the U.S. was looking to extend Plan Colombia, support 
the Justice and Peace Law, and cooperate on defense.  The GOC 
needed to improve its human rights record, with a focus on 
investigating and punishing security personnel involved in 
human rights abuses.  U/S Burns noted some in the U.S. 
Congress and human rights groups were critical of the GOC's 
peace process with recently demobilized paramilitary groups, 
saying the GOC was too light on justice compared with 
experiences in Bosnia, Rwanda and elsewhere.  U.S. human 
rights groups told him ex-combatants would not be punished 
for their crimes and complained conditions of confinement for 
ex-paramilitaries were too luxurious. 

---------------------------- 
Colombians Differ on Justice 
---------------------------- 

5. (C) Sergio Jaramillo (soon to be Vice Minister of Defense) 
said there was room for improvement with the Justice and 
Peace Law but stressed that the paramilitary process had 
sharply reduced the number of atrocities.  Many Colombians 
were alive today thanks to the process.  Jesuit priest 
Mauricio Garcia voiced concern that many paramilitaries had 
not, in fact, demobilized in much of the country and were 
continuingnarcotrafficking activities.  He said the GOC 
needed to focus not only on strengthening the military but on 
improving living conditions and creating economic 
opportunities for the country's poor majority if lasting 
peace was to be achieved. 

6. (C) Pollster Jorge Londono said justice ranked well below 
security and economic growth as key citizen priorities in 
public opinion polls.  He said that in 1999 60% of Colombians 
thought the FARC would defeat the GOC, a figure which had 
dropped to 20%.  Confidence in all government institutions 

BOGOTA 00010114  002 OF 002 


was on the rise, with the exception of the justice system. 
He  said 70% of Colombians feel safer today than a year ago, 
and 80% support the Justice and Peace Law.  Most Colombians 
polled consistently say they give more importance to 
achieving lasting peace than to bringing terrorists to 
justice.  Consultant Miguel Silva cautioned, however, that 
achieving a durable peace would be impossible withouQending
impunity for human rights abusers. 

------------------------------------------- 
State Security and Colombia's Regional Role 
------------------------------------------- 

7. (C) El Tiempo editor-in-chief Enrique Santos said it was 
important for the GOC to link the fight against 
narcotrafficking to overall state security. The GOC had been 
able to defeat the Medellin and Cali cartels only after the 
Colombian people had understood that the violence generated 
bynarcotraffickers threatened them all.  Many Colombians 
remembered the indiscriminate violence perpetrated by Pablo 
Escobar, and feared the FARC might do the same.  A/S Shannon 
said the U.S. was committed to helping Colombia win its fight 
againstnarco-terrorism. 

---------------------- 
Venezuela Arms Buildup 
---------------------- 

8. (C) Santos supported a GOC proposal to boost wealth taxes 
but voiced concern that the GOC would use the increased 
revenues to fund an arms race with Venezuela instead of 
programs to consolidate recent internal security gains. 
Shannon said it would be a strategic mistake for the GOC to 
engage in a regional arms race.  He added it would play into 
Venezuela's hands and result in less money for important 
security, economic, and social programs in Colombia.  Shannon 
concluded it was important for the GOC to focus on the real 
issues facing Colombia (security and economic growth); 
Venezuela's arms build-up required a regional diplomatic 
response, not a military approach. 

9. (U) This cable has been cleared by U/S Burns. 




DRUCKER