Keep Us Strong WikiLeaks logo

Currently released so far... 5408 / 251,287

Articles

Browse latest releases

Browse by creation date

Browse by origin

A B C D F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z

Browse by tag

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
QA
YM YI YE

Browse by classification

Community resources

courage is contagious

Viewing cable 06BOGOTA10571, COLOMBIA AND VENEZUELA: TIES THAT BIND

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Understanding cables
Every cable message consists of three parts:
  • The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was.
  • The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
  • The bottom box presents the body of the cable. The opening can contain a more specific subject, references to other cables (browse by origin to find them) or additional comment. This is followed by the main contents of the cable: a summary, a collection of specific topics and a comment section.
To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.

Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #06BOGOTA10571.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BOGOTA10571 2006-11-16 18:06 2011-02-23 06:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
VZCZCXYZ0002
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #0571/01 3201855
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 161855Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0829
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7275
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 8435
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ NOV 8368
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 4491
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 9752
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 5153
C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 010571 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/07/2016 
TAGS: PREL PTER MARR PHUM CO
SUBJECT: COLOMBIA AND VENEZUELA: TIES THAT BIND 

REF: BOGOTA 4125 

Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood 
Reason: 1.4 (b,d) 

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

1.  (C) President Uribe sees Venezuela's polarizing, 
anti-U.S. focus as a serious problem, but prefers to manage 
President Chavez rather than confront him.  He works to 
maintain a positive bilateral atmosphere, using joint energy 
projects and trade to create incentives to moderate Chavez' 
behavior.  National security concerns, a large and porous 
border, extensive economic relationships, and significant 
people-to-people ties explain Uribe's outwardly conciliatory 
approach.  He also uses this approach to create the political 
space to permit clandestine cross border operations against 
terrorists and narcotraffickers when required.  End summary. 

-------------------- 
"Perfect Hypocrites" 
-------------------- 

2.  (C)  Uribe is under no illusions about Chavez.  Uribe's 
close ties with the U.S., as well as his commitment to 
regional economic integration and security cooperation, put 
him squarely at odds with Chavez' Bolivarian revolution.  He 
has emphasized to us the anti-democratic nature of the Chavez 
regime, and criticized Venezuela's lack of cooperation in 
bringing terrorists and narcotraffickers to justice.  GOC 
officials regularly complain that Venezuela allows the FARC 
and ELN to use its territory as a sanctuary, and both groups 
obtain arms and other supplies from across the border. 
Administrative Department of Security Director Andres Penate
told us Venezuelan anti-terrorism cooperation is low level 
and sporadic.  The Colombian military is concerned by 
Venezuela's recent arms purchases.

3.  (C) Still, one of Uribe's top bilateral priorities is to 
ensure that Venezuela does not disrupt implementation of his 
democratic security policy.  He wants to minimize Venezuelan 
support for Colombia's terrorist groups, and to avoid 
diplomatic clashes or polarization that would detract from 
his internal security focus.  Hence, Uribe tries to manage 
Chavez rather than confront him.  He regularly meets with 
Chavez in bilateral summits, and respective Foreign Ministry 
and intelligence officials also communicate often.  Uribe 
does not challenge Chavez in multilateral fora.  Instead, he 
seeks to strengthen the economic ties between the two 
countries in an effort to diminish Chavez' leverage over 
Colombia.  Uribe advisor Jose ObdulioGaviria characterized 
Colombia's facade of friendship with Chavez by saying, "we 
are the perfect hypocrites," emphasizing Uribe's use of 
diplomacy to protect national security. 

4.  (C) In part thanks to his emphasis on engagement rather 
than confrontation, Uribe remains able to conduct armed 
action in Venezuela to protect Colombia from terrorist 
attack.  He authorizes clandestine cross border operations 
against the FARC as appropriate, while trying to avoid a 
repeat of the crisis generated by the capture of FARC 
official Rodrigo Granda in Caracas in 2003.  On that 
occasion, Chavez' decision to close the border to trade 
caused substantial economic losses in both countries.  Since 
then, Venezuela has not challenged Colombia on such actions. 


----------------------------------- 
Structural Factors: Border Security 
----------------------------------- 

5.  (C) A number of structural factors help explain Uribe's 
public outreach to Venezuela: a large and porous border, 
extensive trade links, and long-standing people-to-people 
ties.  Colombia's border with Venezuela runs more than 
2,000km and encompasses 10 Departments or States in both 
countries.  Crossing without inspection is easy and routine. 
FARC and ELN forces regularly operate in Venezuela, as shown 
by a mid-October FARC-ELN clash in El Nula, Apure State that 
displaced 200.  Senior ELN figures spend considerable time in 
Venezuela, residing openly in Caracas.  A GOC-ELN peace 
process guarantor told us ELN military commander Antonio 
Garcia has spent most of his adult life in either Europe or 
Venezuela.  Presidential advisor Jose ObdulioGaviria said 
the GOC welcomes Venezuela's "facilitation" of peace talks 
with the ELN because it has no choice.  It is better to have 
Chavez inside the process rather than outside causing 
problems. 

------------------------- 
Structural Factors: Trade 
------------------------- 

6.  (C) Venezuela is Colombia's second most important trading 
partner. Two way trade amounted to 3.3 billion USD in 2005, 
with Colombia enjoying a surplus of some 890 million USD. 
Figures in the first 6 months of 2006 show trade up 23 
percent over comparable 2005 numbers.  Colombian exports to 
Venezuela in 2005 amounted to 9 percent of total exports. 
2006 figures show Colombian exports to Venezuela up 17 
percent over the corresponding 2005 period.  Venezuelan 
purchases are key in important sectors, such as livestock (97 
percent, primarily cattle), meat (93 percent), vehicles (71 
percent), cotton (45 percent), and machinery (35 percent). 
Trade is especially important in border areas.  40 percent of 
Venezuelans registered with their consulate in Bucaramanga 
are independent traders, and the figures for Venezuelan 
consulates in Riohacha and Cucuta are even higher.  Vice 
Foreign Minister Camilo Reyes told us the border economies 
are so inter-dependent that they have created a separate 
border culture. 

7.  (C) Colombia and Venezuela are also cooperating on 
various energy projects, including the USD 300 million La 
Guajira/Maracaibo pipeline that started construction in July. 
 Financed entirely by PDVSA, Venezuela hopes to extend the 
pipeline to Panama and beyond to export gas to Central 
America (reftel).  Venezuela has also started discussions 
with the GOC on plans to build an oil pipeline to the Pacific 
(although few knowledgeable people believe a 
Venezuela-Pacific pipeline is economically viable).  Vice 
Minister Reyes and Colombian National Police Intelligence 
Chief Oscar Naranjo told us separately that Chavez' keen 
interest in the pipeline projects has led him to be more 
accommodating of Colombian security concerns. 

----------------------------------------- 
Structural Factors: People-to-People Ties 
----------------------------------------- 

8.  (C) Official Colombian census numbers show that over 
600,000 Colombians, or 1 in 5 of all Colombians residing 
overseas, live in Venezuela.   The IOM's Fernando Calado put 
the real number at almost 1.1 million.  The IOM told us that, 
historically, 70 percent of the Colombians in Venezuela were 
economic migrants, pushed by poor Colombian prospects and 
pulled by Venezuela's oil boom.  In recent years, the numbers 
have been reversed, with most Colombians fleeing for security 
reasons.  This migration has also led to many members of 
Colombia's business and political elites having extensive 
Venezuelan ties.  DAS Director Penate worked in Caracas for 
several years; former Colombian Ambassador to the U.S. Luis 
Alberto Moreno is married to a Venezuelan.  These extensive 
people-to-people ties are reflected in the combined 25 
consulates in each other's country to serve their respective 
citizens.  Colombia's 15 consulates in Venezuela dwarf its 
representation in any other country; In comparison, Colombia 
maintains 10 consulates in the U.S., 6 in Ecuador, and 2 in 
Panama. 
WOOD