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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
01BOGOTA8685
2001-09-25 23:33:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Bogota
Cable title:  

FARC KIDNAPS FORMER MINISTER OF CULTURE AND 10 OTHERS

Tags:   PHUM  PREF  PREL  CO 
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P 252333Z SEP 01
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3887
INFO USMISSION GENEVA 
AMEMBASSY CARACAS 
AMEMBASSY QUITO 
AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 
AMEMBASSY LIMA 
AMEMBASSY PANAMA 
USCINCSO MIAMI FL
DOJ WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
DIRONDCP WASHDC
						UNCLAS BOGOTA 08685 

E.O. 12958: N/A:
TAGS: PHUM PREF PREL CO
SUBJECT: FARC KIDNAPS FORMER MINISTER OF CULTURE AND 10 OTHERS

CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR ANNE W. PATTERSON. REASONS 1.5(B)
AND (D).



1. (U) SUMMARY: FORMER MINISTER OF CULTURE CONSUELO ARAUJO
NOGUERA AND SOME 10 TO 25 OTHER HOSTAGES WERE KIDNAPPED BY
THE FARC NEAR VALLEDUPAR, CESAR DEPARTMENT, ON THE
AFTERNOON OF SEPTEMBER 24. ARMY SOURCES CLAIM THE
HOSTAGES' CARS HAVE BEEN SPOTTED FROM THE AIR IN A
MOUNTAINOUS REGION NORTH OF VALLEDUPAR, AND THAT ARMY
TROOPS ARE ENGAGED IN AN AGGRESSIVE RESCUE OPERATION. END
SUMMARY.



2. (U) FORMER MINISTER OF CULTURE CONSUELO ARAUJO NOGUERA
WAS KIDNAPPED, ALONG WITH BETWEEN 10 AND 25 OTHER PEOPLE,
ON THE NIGHT OF SEPTEMBER 24 IN YE DE LA VEGA, LOCATED 15
MINUTES' DRIVE NORTH OF VALLEDUPAR, THE CAPITAL OF CESAR
DEPARTMENT. AS OF MID-MORNING SEPTEMBER 25, THE ARMY
REPORTED THAT TWO BATTALIONS HAVE MOBILIZED IN AN
AGGRESSIVE RESCUE OPERATION, AND AIR FORCE HELICOPTERS HAVE
SPOTTED THE HOSTAGES' CARS FROM THE AIR IN A MOUNTAINOUS
AREA NEAR PATILLAL, A SMALL CITY LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 30
KILOMETERS NORTH OF VALLEDUPAR. THE ARMY HAS ENGAGED THE
FARC IN THIS AREA, AND ONE SOLDIER HAS BEEN KILLED, BUT
ARMY SOURCES ARE OPTIMISTIC THAT THEY CAN FREE THE HOSTAGES
QUICKLY.



3. (U) ARAUJO IS THE WIFE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL (PROCURADOR
GENERAL) EDGAR MAYA VILLAZON, AND SOURCES SPECULATE THAT
ARAUJO HERSELF, A MEMBER OF AN IMPORTANT CESAR POLITICAL
FAMILY, MAY HAVE BEEN THE PRIMARY TARGET OF THIS
KIDNAPPING. MAYA, WHO IS NOT COMMENTING TO THE PRESS AT
THIS TIME, REPORTEDLY HAS TRAVELED TO VALLEDUPAR AND IS
PARTICIPATING IN A SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING TODAY WITH
CESAR DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS. ARAUJO IS A MAJOR AND WELL-
LIKED PUBLIC FIGURE. SHE IS THE FOUNDER OF A FESTIVAL WHICH
PROMOTES COLOMBIAN MUSIC AND WHICH HAS BECOME A MAJOR
ENTERTAINMENT EVENT AND SOURCE OF TOURIST REVENUE FOR HER
NATIVE TOWN OF VALLEDUPAR.



4. (U) IT HAS NOT YET BEEN CONFIRMED HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE
BEING HELD. ACCORDING TO THE OFFICE OF THE MAYOR OF
VALLEDUPAR, 10 PEOPLE (INCLUDING 3 STAFF FROM THE MAYOR'S
OFFICE) ARE CONFIRMED KIDNAPPED, BUT THAT NUMBER COULD BE
AS HIGH AS 25. SEVEN OF THE NAMES, INCLUDING THOSE OF
ARAUJO'S TWO BODYGUARDS, HAVE APPEARED IN THE PRESS, BUT
POLICE ARE KEEPING THE OTHER NAMES CONFIDENTIAL. ACCORDING
TO WITNESS ACCOUNTS REPORTED SO FAR, A LARGE GROUP OF ARMED
MEN WEARING CAMOUFLAGE, WHO IDENTIFIED THEMSELVES AS BEING
FROM THE FARC'S 59TH FRONT, BEGAN STOPPING CARS ALONG THE
ROAD TO VALLEDUPAR AT ABOUT 12:45 P.M., DETAINING A LARGE
NUMBER OF CARS AND THEIR OCCUPANTS FOR SEVERAL HOURS. THE
GUERRILLAS RELEASED ABOUT 50 HOSTAGES BEGINNING AROUND 7:00
P.M., SOME OF WHOM ARE STILL BEING INTERVIEWED BY THE
VALLEDUPAR POLICE. IT HAS BEEN REPORTED IN THE PRESS, BUT
NOT CONFIRMED, THAT ONE PERSON MAY HAVE BEEN KILLED. ONE
OF THE RELEASED HOSTAGES REPORTEDLY TOLD THE VALLEDUPAR
POLICE THAT ARAUJO AND CECILIA MONSALVO RIVERA (THE
PRESIDENT OF A CULTURAL FOUNDATION) WERE SEEN BEING TAKEN
IN THEIR CAR ALONG THE ROAD TO ATANQUEZ, LOCATED IN THE
MOUNTAINOUS SIERRA NEVADA REGION.


PATTERSON

NOTE: UNC MSG WITH CLASS BY STATEMENT.

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