This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS BOGOTA 001764
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR PHUM SNAR CO SUBJECT: THE LAST COLOMBIAN MUNICIPALITY WITHOUT A PUBLIC SECURITY PRESENCE RECEIVES A POLICE DETACHMENT
REF: BOGOTA 1187
1. (SBU) On February 12, the GOC reinstalled police forces in Murindo, Antioquia department, a region in Uraba that has long lacked a public security presence. Murindo was the last of Colombia's 1,098 municipalities (equivalent to a U.S. county) to receive a public security force -- completing a major goal of the Uribe Administration. When Uribe assumed office, 158 municipalities had no public security presence. Colombian Armed Forces Commander General Carlos Ospina, who was the commander in the region when Murindo fell to the FARC and was wounded when his helicopter was shot down in a failed operation to retake it, flew into the area for the reoccupation in the lead helicopter.
2. (SBU) Murindo is located near the Antioquia/Choco departmental border in northwestern Colombia, astride a mobility corridor from the lowlands to the mountains, and is also close to the Atrato River, which has been a lucrative drug and arms trafficking route for the FARC and paramilitaries. The region has been a staging area for many terrorist operations in recent years. One of the most tragic attacks came in 2002 when 119 people who had taken refuge in a church in Bellavista, in nearby Bojaya municipality, were killed by a FARC-launched gas cylinder bomb that struck the building. The operation in Murindo is part of an ongoing GOC effort to reassert its control over the length of the Atrato River. In May 2003, the Colombian Navy deployed a heavily armed 120-foot barge along the waterway.
3. (SBU) The Murindo reinsertion comes on the heels of the February 7 Colombian Armed Forces and Police's successful completion of joint operations in the southeastern municipalities of Miraflores, Caruru, and Taraira, which secured the GOC airfields and key forward bases of operation. These reinsertions included U.S.-trained and funded Police Junglas and Carabinero Squadrons, the latter of which will remain to reinforce standard police units. President Uribe and the Minister of Defense have insistently prodded the public security forces to conduct joint operations; the recent municipal reinsertions are excellent examples. Butenis