Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BOGOTA10976
2006-12-04 15:53:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bogota
Cable title:  

OPPOSITION CALLS FOR RESIGNATION OF FOREIGN

Tags:  KJUS PREL PREF CO 
pdf how-to read a cable
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 010976 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2016
TAGS: KJUS PREL PREF CO
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION CALLS FOR RESIGNATION OF FOREIGN
MINISTER ARAUJO

REF: BOGOTA 8108 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Political Counselor John Creamer - Reasons 1.4 (b,d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 010976

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2016
TAGS: KJUS PREL PREF CO
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION CALLS FOR RESIGNATION OF FOREIGN
MINISTER ARAUJO

REF: BOGOTA 8108 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Political Counselor John Creamer - Reasons 1.4 (b,d)


1. (C) Summary. In a stormy Senate debate on November 29,
opposition politicians called on Foreign Minister Araujo to
resign "for the good of Colombia" due to alleged family ties
to paramilitaries. The FM's brother, Senator Alvaro Araujo,
called before the Supreme Court to answer allegations of para
ties, said he would remain a senator and denied all charges.
The FM told Congress she had the support of the president and
would stay; numerous government officials and Congressional
allies rose to her defense. Some of those same allies,
however, later told us the FM will likely "have to go." Most
predict the FM will leave within a month or two in a cabinet
re-shuffle to mitigate political damage to the president.
End summary.

=======================================
Opposition Calls on FM Araujo to Resign
=======================================

2. (U) In a sometimes ugly Senate debate on November 29, the
opposition Liberal and Polo Parties called on Foreign
Minister Maria Consuelo Araujo to resign due to alleged
family ties with paramilitaries (Reftel). Liberal Senator
Cecilia Lopez admitted there was no evidence linking the FM
to paramilitaries or criminal acts, but she said that
allegations against the FM's siblings (including Senator
Alvaro Araujo, who was called to testify before the Supreme
Court) made it "politically un-sustainable" for the FM to
represent Colombia. She also accused the FM of influence
trafficking for intervening with National Prosecutor (Fiscal)
Mario Iguaran to inquire about Senator Araujo's legal
situation. Lopez, speaking for the Liberal party, and
Senator Jorge Robledo speaking for Polo, called on FM Araujo
to step aside for the good of the country.

=====================
FM Says She Will Stay
=====================

3. (U) FM Araujo told the assembled Senate plenary she
would not resign and claimed the full support of President
Alvaro Uribe. She admitted she had asked Fiscal Mario Iguaran
about her brother's case. Araujo did not directly address
the accusations against her family members, providing a

summary of her government experience and commitment to public
service. She asked Congress to judge her on results, and
said Colombia would be best served if she kept her post.
Only Conservative Senator Alberto Gerlein rose to
congratulate the FM after her intervention. Fiscal Iguaran,
Peace Commissioner Juan Restrepo, Interior and Justice
Minister Carlos Holguin, U Party Senator Luis Velez, and
Cambio Radical Senator Nancy Patricia Gutierrez also spoke in
defense of the FM.

========================
Araujo Family Under Fire
========================

4. (U) Senator Araujo (of the coalition party Alas Equipo
Colombiano) rose at almost midnight to say he would remain a
senator, and to respond to opposition charges in front of a
still packed Senate chamber. In a passionate speech,
punctuated with interruptions, screaming and personal attacks
from all sides, Araujo denied the charges leveled against
him, claimed he had never threatened the Uribe
Administration, and said "I am not--and never have been --a
paramilitary." Iguaran confirmed that the FM's other
brother, Sergio, and sister Ana Maria were also under
investigation for possible ties to ex-para leader "Jorge 40."


5. (C) Alvaro Araujo is at the center of allegations that the
Araujo family is tied to the paramilitaries. Still, Judicial
Police (Dijin) chief Oscar Naranjo told us November 30 that
Dijin has no concrete evidence linking him to criminal acts.
If he were tried today, he would be acquitted. Separately,
DAS chief Andres Penate told us he was not aware of
information indicating that Senator Araujo committed any
crimes.

========================================
Foreign Minister Araujo May "Have to go"
========================================

6. (C) Numerous contacts told us after the debate that the
FM will soon have to resign. Senator Velez--who was chosen
by the government to defend the FM in the Senate--told us
only hours later that Araujo "will have to leave," probably
after a month or two delay to avoid political damage to
President Uribe. U Party Senator Martha Lucia Ramirez,
Cambio Radical leader German Vargas Lleras, and Conservative
Party Senator Efrain Cepeda--all coalition members--agreed

BOGOTA 00010976 002 OF 002


the FM's position would soon be untenable, and predicted
Araujo would be gone within a month or two. The most likely
scenario is that the FM would be replaced in a January
cabinet re-shuffle. The FM's congressional liaison, Karen
Mendoza, told us the FM had received "mixed messages" from
congressional allies. She said the FM was struggling to
produce an international public relations plan in the event
her family members end up in jail for paramilitary ties. On
December 1, U Party leader Carlos Gracia told the press he
thought Foreign Minister Araujo should resign.
DRUCKER

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