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Viewing cable 06BOGOTA10958, URIBE SUPPORTS SUPREME COURT ACTIONS ON PARA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BOGOTA10958 2006-12-01 22:10 2011-02-20 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
VZCZCXYZ0022
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #0958/01 3352236
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 012236Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1174
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7291
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 8483
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC LIMA 4529
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 9798
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5187
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3788
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHOND/DIRONDCP WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 010958 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2016 
TAGS: KJUS PGOV PINR PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: URIBE SUPPORTS SUPREME COURT ACTIONS ON PARA 
SCANDAL, INSISTS INSTITUTIONS MUST BE ALLOWED TO WORK 
 
REF: A. BOGOTA 10596 
     B. BOGOTA 8623 
     C. BOGOTA 10826 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood. 
Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1.  (C) The Supreme Court continues its investigation of 
paramilitary ties to the Colombian legislators; nine 
legislators from the Atlantic Coast have now been implicated. 
 Two executive and judicial branch officials have also 
resigned.  President Uribe has publicly urged the Court to 
pursue all leads and to punish public officials who are 
guilty.  Uribe said the accusations related to the conduct of 
individuals, not institutions, and urged Congress to continue 
working on his legislative agenda.  Some legislators said 
Colombia's institutions are working, but voiced concern that 
the on-going investigations could eventually paralyze 
Congress or undercut the credibility of other public 
institutions. End summary. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
Court Continues to Act, More Revelations 
---------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (C) On November 28, the Supreme Court ordered six members 
of Congress to appear for questioning to answer accusations 
they were associated with ex-paramilitary criminal 
activities.  The Court will question Senators Alvaro Araujo, 
Dieb Maloof, Luis Eduardo Vives, and Mauricio Pimiento, as 
well as representatives Jorge Caballero and Alfonso Campo, 
beginning the week of December 4.  The Court's action follows 
its November 9 order to arrest three members of Congress, 
Senator Alvaro Garcia, Senator Jairo Merlano, and 
Representative Erik Morris, all of whom are in custody (ref 
A).  The crux of the allegations is that the legislators 
organized or facilitated criminal acts, including murder and 
fraud, to further the aims of paramilitary organizations, 
primarily on the Atlantic Coast, between 1997 and 2001.  All 
legislators sought by the Court to date are members of the 
governing coalition. 
 
3.  (C)  The Prosecutor General's Office is seeking to 
question former DAS head Jorge Noguera on accusations related 
to the scandal.  In addition, High Council of the Judiciary 
President Jose Alfredo Escobar and his wife--a Prosecutor 
General's Office employee--are accused of association with 
criminal interests, including Salvatore Mancuso. 
 
4.  (C) On November 29, Luis Carlos Ordosgoitia, Director of 
the National Institute of Concessions under the Ministry of 
Transportation and former congressman for the Conservative 
Party, resigned after admitting he participated in a 2001 
meeting between paramilitary chiefs and approximately 40 
legislators, as well as mayors and governors, from the 
Atlantic Coast.  Senator Miguel de La Espriella, who first 
revealed the meeting to El Tiempo on November 26, insisted 
the meeting was supposed to support the start of a peace 
process with the armed group.  Espriella claimed the 
legislators felt "pressured" to sign a document at the 
meeting.  Neither the document nor the list of signatories 
has yet been revealed.  Only one other attendee, former 
Representative Eleonora Pineda, has admitted to being present. 
 
------------------------------------- 
Uribe: Congress Must Continue to Work 
------------------------------------- 
 
5.  (C) President Uribe urged the Court to follow the 
evidence to where it leads.  He said his administration was 
the first to try to clean up a paramilitary phenomenon that 
flourished under previous presidents.  Uribe emphasized that 
criminal responsibility is personal, not institutional, and 
 
said the Congress must continue to work normally.  He 
rejected a proposal that Congress be closed, and said any 
legislators who are jailed should be replaced in accordance 
with existing procedures.  Uribe also called on legislators 
to reveal their ties with leftist guerrilla groups and 
narcotraffickers.  El Tiempo's Editorial on November 27 
agreed, saying "the revelations are welcome and--despite 
their traumatic political effect--are necessary and healthy 
for the well-being of the institutions." 
 
6.  (C) Former Liberal Party presidential candidate Horacio 
Serpa asked the House of Representatives to investigate 
whether Uribe may be held criminally and politically 
responsible for ties to the paramilitaries.  A 15-member 
multiparty House commission must decide whether to dismiss 
the allegations or present them to the full Congress, which 
could recommend censure.  Serpa presented no evidence to 
support his request, and few observers expect it will 
advance. 
 
------------------------------ 
...And Foreign Minister Stays 
------------------------------ 
 
7.  (C) The revelations about Congressional involvement with 
paramilitaries, including allegations against Foreign 
Minister Araujo's brother, Senator Alvaro Araujo, led the 
opposition to demand the Foreign Minister's resignation 
(septel).  Still, the President has emphatically supported 
her.  A Senate hearing on November 29 to question the 
Minister about her family's ties to paramilitaries instead 
became a forum for new revelations by Prosecutor General 
Iguaran (septel).  During the hearing, FM Araujo admitted she 
had used an official meeting with Iguaran to ask if he was 
investigating her family. 
 
------------ 
What's Next? 
------------ 
 
8.  (C) The "para-politician" scandals have primarily focused 
on the Atlantic Coast, but some suggest other regions are 
also involved.  Political analyst and columnist Claudia Lopez 
noted "para-politician pacts" were also evident in Antioquia, 
the Santanders, Meta, and Casanare.  Polo Democratico leader 
Gustavo Petro warned Congress on November 29 he planned to 
reveal information in March on "para-politicians" in 
Antioquia.  To date, the media has linked 19 serving 
legislators and ten former congressmen to the paramilitaries. 
 In addition, the government is braced for allegations 
against officials in the Executive and other branches. 
 
---------------------- 
Governability at Risk? 
---------------------- 
 
9.  (C) All political observers, government officials, and 
opposition members have expressed support for the 
institutions of justice--the Supreme Court, the Prosecutor 
General's Office, and the Attorney General's Office--and 
agree that an institutional crisis is not looming.  Semana 
Magazine's editorial on November 26 said the notion that 
there is an institutional crisis is "an exaggeration...what 
we have is quite the contrary: the institutions of justice 
are taking action."  Cambio Radical Senator German Vargas 
Lleras said Congress continues to work on key legislation and 
dismissed calls that Congress be closed. 
 
11. (C) Still, several political figures voiced concern that 
the scandals could eventually paralyze Congress an undermine 
the credibility of Colombia's fragile political institutions. 
Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo told us November 22 
he is urging President Uribe to try to agree with the 
opposition parties on a unified approach to manage the 
institutional damage resulting from the investigations (ref 
C).  Senator Marta Lucia Ramirez told us November 29 she had 
discussed with President Uribe the idea of a national pact 
 
with the Opposition (Liberal and Polo Democratico parties) 
that would try to insulate key legislation from the political 
turmoil.  It could also involve commitments to avoid partisan 
political sniping that would damage the Colombia's public 
institutions.  She thinks key opposition figures would be 
disposed to participate. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
12.  (C) Allegations about legislators' links to 
paramilitaries are the direct result of Colombian government 
policy on the peace process with the AUC, and U.S. Government 
support for that approach.   Colombia's democratic 
institutions are exposing long-suspected links between part 
of the country's political elite and the paramilitaries in 
what will be a painful, yet necessary process.  In the 
present environment, there is a sense of "guilty until proven 
innocent," although in many cases the facts reveal a 
proximity to or association with paramilitary figures, but no 
actual collusion.  We are monitoring developments closely and 
insisting, with President Uribe, that the truth be told. 
President Uribe remains strong, and Congress continues to 
function. 
WOOD