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Viewing cable 08BOGOTA4028, COLOMBIAN MILITARY COMMANDER MONTOYA RESIGNS,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08BOGOTA4028 2008-11-06 18:06 2011-02-25 12:12 SECRET Embassy Bogota
Appears in these articles:
http://www.elespectador.com/noticia-clave-252925-colombia-wikileaks
VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #4028 3111833
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 061833Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5418
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1288
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ NOV LIMA 6713
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 7411
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 4678
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
S E C R E T BOGOTA 004028 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/22/2016 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KJUS CO
SUBJECT: COLOMBIAN MILITARY COMMANDER MONTOYA RESIGNS, 
GENERAL GONZALEZ PENA NAMED AS REPLACEMENT 

Classified By: Political Counselor John S. Creamer. Reason: 1.4(b,d) 

------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 
1.  (S) Colombian Army Commanding General Mario Montoya Uribe 
resigned his post on November 4.  Montoya stepped down less 
than a week after President Alvaro Uribe's dismissal of 27 
military officers for their roles in the disappearance and 
subsequent murders of young men from Soacha and Antioquia. 
Montoya has been dogged in recent years by allegations of his 
involvement in human rights abuses.  Later on November 4, 
Uribe named Major General Oscar Enrique Gonzalez 
Pena--considered Montoya's "protege"--to the post.  Minister 
of Defense Juan Manuel Santos told us Montoya personally 
convinced Uribe to appoint Gonzalez.  Human rights groups 
have voiced concerns that extrajudicial killings were 
committed under Gonzalez' watch while commander of the 4th 
brigade. END SUMMARY. 

----------------------- ------------------ 
GENERAL MONTOYA RESIGNS AS COLAR COMMANDER 
----------------------- ------------------ 
2.  (U) On November 4, Colombian Army Commanding General 
Mario Montoya Uribe resigned his post.  Montoya stepped down 
less than a week after President Uribe's dismissal of 27 
military officers--including two division and three brigade 
commanders--for their roles in the disappearance and 
subsequent murders of young men from Soacha and Antioquia. 
Montoya had been the subject of multiple human rights 
complaints during his tenure, including alleged abuses 
committed in Medellin's poorer neighborhoods during Operation 
Orion, collusion with paramilitaries, and demanding "body 
count" as a measure of operational success. 

3.  (U) Colombian press reported statements by Senator 
Patrick Leahy calling Montoya's departure a "long overdue and 
positive step."  Leahy said Montoya "shares responsibility 
for widespread and systematic abuses by the Colombian 
military."  Montoya's recent military successes include the 
rescue of hostages in Operation Jaque.  Some believed he 
would be a likely successor to Armed Forces Commander General 
Freddy Padilla de Leon.

------------------------ ------------------- 
PRESIDENT NAMES GONZALEZ PENA AS REPLACEMENT 
------------------------ ------------------- 
4.  (U) Later on November 4, President Uribe announced at a 
press conference with General Freddy Padilla and Minister of 
Defense Juan Manuel Santos thatMajor General Oscar Enrique 
Gonzalez Pena, current commander of the Caribbean Joint 
Command, would replace Montoya as Commanding General of the 
Colombian Army.  Uribe said Gonzalez' appointment leaves the 
Army in "good hands," highlighting his significant 
operational successes.  Gonzalez Pena followed Montoya as 
commander of the 4th Brigade from December 2003 to July 2005, 
and then became commander of the 7th Division in 2005. 

5.  (U) Gonzalez was responsible for the operation that led 
to the death of "Martin Caballero," the former head of the 
FARC's 37th Front, in September of last year.  Human rights 
groups publicly criticized Gonzalez' appointment for his 
close association with Montoya, and voiced concerns regarding 
45 alleged extrajudicial killings committed by the 4th 
Brigade during his command.  El Tiempo reported that Montoya 
selected Gonzalez as 'best commander in the country'  during 
his tenure as 4th Brigade commander because his unit reported 
the most combat kills---857. 

--------------------------- 
GONZALEZ, MONTOYA'S PROTEGE 
--------------------------- 
6.  (S) MOD Santos told the Ambassador that Montoya--who has 
a close relationship with Uribe--persuaded the President to 
appoint Gonzalez as his replacement.  Santos pushed back, but 
Uribe decided to proceed with the appointment.  Santos 
subsequently met with Gonzalez who assured him that he was 
"clean" on all fronts.  Vice Ministers Pinzon and Jaramillo 
told us separately that Gonzalez is Montoya's protege, and 
could be an obstacle to further improvements on human rights. 
 Still, Pinzon and Jaramillo stressed Santos' commitment to 
human rights, and voiced confidence that they could manage 
Gonzalez. 
BROWNFIELD 

=======================CABLE ENDS============================