This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
142333Z Dec 05
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BOGOTA 011620
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER CO FARC SUBJECT: TEXT OF PRESIDENT URIBE AND PEACE COMMISSIONER RESTREPO'S STATEMENTS ON HOSTAGE EXCHANGE TALKS WITH FARC
REF: BOGOTA 11611
1. (U) President Alvaro Uribe Velez and Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo made the following statements at a press conference at the Presidential Palace on December 13, 2005, regarding the decision by the GOC to accept the international commission's proposal to create a 65 square mile "security zone" in Valle de Cauca Department. The proposed security zone would be the location of GOC-FARC talks on a "humanitarian exchange" of hostages for FARC prisoners. As reported in reftel, the FARC has not yet replied to the proposal.
2. (U) Begin informal Embassy translation of Uribe's remarks:
Please allow me to offer a response to this proposal made by France, Switzerland and Spain.
As Dr. Luis Carlos Restrepo has summarized (referring to Peace Commissioner Restrepo's brief summary of the proposal), we have selected a small town in a rural zone as a potential site for the hostage exchange talks. The town is called El Retiro, and it is approximately 180 square kilometers in size. There are 30 families living in the town. The three European countries (France, Switzerland, and Spain) demand that for the duration of the negotiations, as well as for seven days prior and seven days after their conclusion, neither the Colombian Armed Forces nor the armed guerillas will be allowed to enter the zone. Only FARC representatives attending the negotiations will be permitted.
The Colombian Government accepts this proposal. I humbly admit that this implies a concession on the part of the Government over which I preside. I take responsibility for this decision. We accept this modification to our traditional position because we trust the international community.
We accept this modification because the international community has guaranteed that neither the Army nor the guerrilla forces will be present. We accept this proposal because during the days of the meetings, in place of the Army, there will be 40 international observers. And we trust the international community.
We accept this proposal because it does not injure our sovereignty, and it does not put our countrymen at risk. We accept it because Democratic Security is finally on the path toward reconciliation. We accept because we want to respond to the anguish, the pain, and the suffering of many Colombian families who have had their relatives kidnapped.
We also accept this proposal because the country is going to continue on the path toward total reconciliation. We pay our respects to Jaime Lozada, the former governor of Huila, who was murdered. This agreement honors his leadership in favor of a humanitarian agreement.
That is all at this time, esteemed countrymen.
End informal Embassy translation of Uribe's remarks.
3. (U) Begin text of Peace Commissioner Restrepo's remarks (during his statement, he referred to maps projected on a large screen):
The National Government has received from the governments of France, Switzerland and Spain, the proposal of a system of security for a humanitarian meeting in the Central Cordillera. This proposal has been submitted today simultaneously to the Government and to the FARC.
The proposal consists of the results of a technical exploratory mission, the proposal concerning a site for the meeting: El Retiro, in the municipality of Pradera (Valle de Cauca), the system of security surrounding the site of the meeting, areas of security, points of observation and paths, duration of the international observation and the role of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The proposal has been formally submitted through the Swiss Federal Department of External Affairs, in the name of Spain, France and Switzerland, both to the Colombian Government and to the FARC, and is the result of a technical exploratory mission that was in the Colombian territory and advanced its work in the Central Cordillera between November 28 and December 2, 2005.
Spain, France and Switzerland propose a system of security that permits the Government and the FARC to find themselves directly in optimum conditions. They propose to guarantee the security of the negotiators, with its political commitment and physical presence. They do not prejudge the duration, form or content of the negotiations, and they are looking to give confidence to the parties and to the different sectors of Colombian society. The Commission,s suggested site for the meeting is the hamlet El Retiro, in the municipality of Pradera (Valle del Cauca). It is a place located approximately 15 kilometers from the urban area of Pradero. The characteristics: 30 families live there. There is a church in good condition, a school with 5 classrooms, dining room, kitchen and bathrooms, a community center, a health station, a football field that permits the landing of helicopters, electricity, water and telephone. It is 1,600 meters above sea level and is split from 1,200 meters in Potrerito to 2,800 meters in Bolo Azul. This is the commission,s suggested site as a place for the meeting, El Retiro, and here we have the urban center of Pradera.
As well, the commission suggests a system of security surrounding the site of the meeting, comprised of areas of security. The first area is in the east of Pradera, from the Potrerillo bridge over the Bolo River, to the line along the Central Cordillera. A second area to the east of Florida, from the exit of La Diana, to the north of the road to La Diana, El Caleo, La Palmera, Sina, including the road. And a third area to the east of the line, that separates the department of Valle (of Cauca) from the department of Tolima, an area of two kilometers wide along the municipalities of Pradera and Florida, to the mountain path situated on the road without leaving Florida ) Herrea ) Chaparral.
Here we have the proposed areas of security, here we have Pradera, here we have Potrerito, this is the Bolo river, that reaches the area of the Central Cordillera. This is the second area of security, that parts from La Diana, passes through Los Caleos and reaches Sina. And here we have the third area of security, at the boundary between the departments of Valle (of Cauca) and Tolima, two kilometers over Tolima, bordering the Pradera and Florida.
As well, as part of the system of security around the site of the meeting, observation sites will be installed, some observation sites on the roads to control access: Potreito, the bridge of the main road and the secondary road, El Retiro at the crossing of the two roads, La Diana at the eastern exit in the direction of Los Caleos, and the farm Las Tablas between Palmera y Sina.
And also some observers at strategic points, at Los Negros, on the road to La Carbonera, at the La Campia farm near Boloazul, at La Virgen farm in Tolima, and at Norales farm, also in Tolima.
Here we have the points of control on the roads, here we have the one of Potreito, of El Retiro in Los Negros, of Palmera and here we have the one of La Diana.
As well, here we have the observation points suggested by the commission. Here these two points are in Tolima. As well, the commission considers it important to take into account the control of some paths on the route between Florida and the department of Tolima, a path that goes from La Diana to the projected road on the Florida ) Herrera ) Chaparral route, another point between Pradera and Florida, that is a trail that joins Bolo Azul and the site called Norales, and a third track between Pradera and the department of Tolima, that is a trail from Bolo Azul to the site known as La Virgen.
Here we see the tracks and the crossings that the commission considers important to control. Here we have the one that goes from La Diana, goes to the Los Norales site and this is a trail that goes towards La Herrera. Here we have the second that goes from Los Norales to Bolo Azul and the third that is from Bolo Azul to the La Virgen lagoon.
It is proposed that the coordination of the observers, in the first instance considered to total 40, would be set up in the El Retiro hamlet, and the coordinator of the observers would be in coordination with the political organ of the three countries, set up in El Retiro. He would also be in coordination with the Colombian Armed Forces and with the FARC.
The three countries textually suggest in their proposal that the troops must remain on the outside of the boundaries of security. That is to say, within the area of security, the presence of neither troops from the Colombian Public Force, nor the armed guerrillas of the FARC. Only the Government negotiators and the guerrilla group will be permitted to enter.
The international observation is established seven days prior to the commencement of the meeting and seven days after the end of meeting. The countries will leave the decision as to the duration of the meeting to the parties.
The International Committee of the Red Cross guarantees the air or land movement as much to the FARC as to the Government delegates, protects the places of negotiation with the emblems of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and maintains a permanent presence of its officials at the El Retiro site.
This is basically the proposal. If you wish simply to review the maps, let,s look again at the security map: this is the zone. We have here a first border of security in the Pradera zone, a second border of security in the Florida rural zone and this third border of security on the boundary of Tolima. The area included inside the borders of security is approximately 180 square kilometers.
End informal Embassy translation of Restrepo's remarks.
4. (U) The text of the proposal to which Uribe and Restrepo refer in their remarks, and other information related to this announcement, can be found in Spanish at www.presidencia.gov.co. WOOD