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07BOGOTA8694 2007-12-28 21:32:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Bogota
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1. The Colombian Government announced on December 28 that it
had authorized a VeQuelan-led, international delegation --
operating in conjunction with the International Committee of
the Red Cross (ICRC) -- to recover three FARC-held hostages
between 1700 EST December 27 and 1700 EST December 30 in
Colombian territory (reftels). The GOC authorized Venezuela
to deploy three fixed wing aircraft and two helicopters,
operating with ICRC markings, to Vanguardia airport in the
Meta Department capitol of Villavicencio in the first phase
of the mission. Aircraft were scheduled to be deployed from
Santo Domingo (Tachira), Venezuela at approximately 1500 EST,
December 28. The helicopters would then depart from
Villavicencio to recover the hostages at a time/location to
be determined on December 29 or 30.

2. ICRC chief in Colombia Barbara Hintermann said the
recovery phase of the operation would not occur prior to
December 29, to allow time for aircraft to be deployed and
prepared, and since the ICRC would not conduct nighttime
operations over security concerns. Peace Commissioner Luis
Carlos Restrepo, GOC coordinator for the mission, confirmed
that the GOC, GOV and ICRC remained in permanent contact to
coordinate mission details. He said that the hostages
(expected to be Clara Rojas, her son Emmanuel, and Consuelo
Gonzales de Perdomo) and the delegation would fly directly to
Venezuela once hostages are recovered to meet hostage family

3. We have no information indicating that any American
hostages (or Ingrid Betancourt) will be released in this
operation. Some family members of hostages remaining in FARC
custody have provided letters and other materials to
delegation members requesting they be passed to the FARC. In
addition to representatives from Venezuela, Argentina,
Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, and France, the Swiss have reportedly
been asked to join the mission. Argentine Foreign Minister
Jorge Taiana, former-President Nestor Kirchner, and Brazilian
presidential advisor Marco Aurelio Garcia, among others, are
expected to participate.