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Press Release

November 24, 2007

1. In its interest to achieve the release of those kidnapped, despite the risk of political difficulties anticipated by some, the Colombian Government allowed the intervention of President Hugo Chávez.

2. The Colombian Government felt that President Hugo Chávez could be an effective alternative to obtain the release of those kidnapped, choosing this option instead of refusing his participation, on the pretext of political concern.

3. Both Presidents have had three meetings where the issue of the humanitarian agreement has been dealt with, all of them with witnesses. At the meeting between Presidents Álvaro Uribe and Hugo Chávez held in Santiago de Chile last November 9, it became clear that the Colombian Government could not consent to a meeting between President Hugo Chávez and Manuel Marulanda to take place, since in this case or in a similar meeting, with another Head of State, a neutral zone would be required. As an alternative, President Uribe expressed to President Chávez that if FARC were to release first some of those kidnapped, committing to the release of all those kidnapped, the meeting between President Chávez and Manuel Marulanda could be held at a location within Colombia, even in the Caguán area as President Chávez requested, to initiate a successful peace process. That President Uribe would be willing to meet them there at a later time.  This proposal was given as a “negotiation tool” which could be used by President Hugo Chávez in order to make progress with FARC toward the release of those kidnapped. The Colombian Government was taken by surprise when President Chávez disclosed this issue in Paris because it understood that this was a negotiation element to be handled in confidence.

4. At the meeting in Santiago de Chile, President Uribe explained to President Chávez that every step taken by the Colombian Government in the peace process is consulted with the Military in order not to interfere with the democratic safety policy. President Uribe explained to President Chávez that he goes to great lengths so that such decisions do not affect the motivation of the Military. President Chávez responded that he would talk to the Colombian Generals, even with General Mario Montoya, the Commander of the Army. President Uribe stated that this was not acceptable and gave his reasons.  The issue was concluded and closed.

5. Hence the Colombian Government’s concern in learning about the telephone conversation between President Hugo Chávez and General Mario Montoya, through Senator Piedad Córdoba. That same day Senator Córdoba called General Freddy Padilla de León, Commander General of the Military Forces, several times but did not talk to him. Senator Córdoba had previously called a spokesperson of the Catholic Church and expressed the interest of President Hugo Chávez to have the President on the Colombian Conference of Bishops travel to Caracas to talk with him. As Senator Córdoba herself has said, that day she also called members of the press and several important individuals, all this without informing the Colombian Government.

6. When the Colombian Government became aware of these facts, it became clear that Senator Córdoba’s call, which culminated in the telephone conversation of President Chávez with General Montoya, which was in disagreement with the talks that took place in Santiago de Chile and ignored the Colombian institutional channels, was no coincidence.  The Colombian Government cannot allow third parties to involve members of the Colombian military in the issue, because it jeopardizes our democratic traditions of unity in the Military Forces.

7. The Colombian Government fully respects the institutional hierarchy of the República Bolivariana de Venezuela. The public order issues that are of interest to both countries, as well as the need to coordinate the military at the border as estimated by the Colombian Government, have always been directly expressed by President Álvaro Uribe to President Hugo Chávez.

8. Around noon on November 21st, in a public appearance at the graduation ceremony of the Class of Advanced Military Studies of the Escuela Superior de Guerra, President Álvaro Uribe had reiterated all his confidence and support to President Hugo Chávez’s efforts. That same day, toward the evening, the President learned about the telephone conversation through information received from General Freddy Padilla de León, Commander General of the Military Forces, and General Mario Montoya himself, Commander of the Army.

9. The Colombian Government has made every possible effort in pursuing the humanitarian agreement. The only answers given by  FARC have been the assassinations of the former minister Gilberto Echeverri, of Governor Guillermo Gaviria, and the members of the Military which were with them in their captivity; the assassination of the eleven representatives from Valle del Cauca; the stalling behavior before the international community; the refusal to work toward a formula to release those kidnapped, with the multitude of national and international facilitators that have been appointed.

10. The Colombian Government is concerned about the manipulation of proofs of survival by FARC, as the chief of the National Police Force, General Oscar Naranjo, clearly stated today in a press release.

11. The Government can not allow terrorists of FARC to continue with the practice of “combining methods of struggle” by which they kidnap, assassinate and engage in drug trafficking, while posing as political actors and contacting sectors of the national and international community. This damaging practice has contributed, among other criminal episodes, to the assassination of members of Unión Patriótica and Colombian union leaders.

12. Everything demonstrates that FARC have not been interested in releasing those kidnapped or in providing proofs of survival.  Instead, they engage in international politics, while during the last few weeks in Colombia they assassinated 12 candidates to the regional elections and produced a terrorist attack against the Cauca Governor, crimes that no country tolerates.

13. The peace policy, in coordination with the Democratic safety policy, has shown significant gains to the country in the reduction of violence, in demobilizing 46.000 members of illegal organizations and in recuperating the confidence of citizens in democratic institutions.

14. The Colombian Government reiterates that the Democratic safety policy is not part of alleged differences between “left” and “right”.  Quite the contrary, it is a value to guarantee the efficacy of pluralism.  The current Government, in its efforts to defeat terrorism in order to strengthen democracy, has demonstrated that it acts with sovereignty and autonomy, oblivious to pressures by any country.

15. Colombia may not allow terrorists from FARC to abuse the suffering of those kidnapped and their families, to abuse the pleas for the Humanitarian Agreement, everything in order to weaken the democratic safety policy which is the only policy which will finally eliminate kidnapping and restore peace.

16. The Colombian Government will continue making every possible effort toward the liberation of those kidnapped and hopes that, instead of insisting in their terrorist stubbornness, FARC will release those kidnapped to President Chávez or President Sarkozy or the International Red Cross, as soon as possible and unilaterally.

17. It is in the best interest of FARC to create divisions and antagonism between Colombia and Venezuela. We should not fall in the traps of terrorism.

18. President Álvaro Uribe reiterates his availability to maintain a constructive dialogue with President Hugo Chávez.

Casa de Nariño
November 24, 2007

Documents 2007

Confianza en Colombia
Día de la Independencia
Volver a empezar
Que el  mundo nos juzgue
Sentido Común