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Cablegate: High Commissioner for Reintegration Frank Pearl

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O 261728Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6588
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7603
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 9108
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN LIMA 5183
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 0399
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5782
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3994
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEAWJC/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHOND/DIRONDCP WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS BOGOTA 004614

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KJUS PGOV PINR PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REINTEGRATION FRANK PEARL
REVISES PROGRAM TO FOCUS ON LONG-TERM STABILITY

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Summary
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1. (SBU) The High Commissioner for Reintegration's Office
(HCR)--which replaced the Reinsertion Program managed by the
Minister of Interior and Justice last September--has changed
the process to improve its effectiveness. The changes extend
the program's educational and employment services--as well as
the monthly stipend received by demobilized
paramilitaries--and increase its rural coverage. The HCR has
also imposed stricter monitoring as well as a requirement
that each demobilized commit to individual study or work
programs. HCR is also creating new job search services,
incentive structures, education and health care programs, and
micro-credit projects to speed reintegration into society.
Of the 31,000 demobilized paramilitaries, the program has so
far re-registered over 22,000. End summary.

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For Long-term Stability and Sustainability
------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Spurred by concerns that its previous system was
encouraging dependency and threatening the reinsertion
program's longterm success, the High Commissioner for
Reintegration's Office (HCR)--which replaced the Reinsertion
Program managed by the Minister of Interior and Justice--is
making changes to guarantee the process' long-term stability.
HCR Adviser Maria Eugenia Pinto told us HCR has modified its
programs since its creation in September 2006 to extend
services to all demobilized paramilitaries beyond the 18-24
month timeframe originally planned. Each person will be
under strict monitoring and commitment to an individualized
"reintegration route" and job search program.

3. (SBU) Pinto said the HCR deployed re-registration
brigades throughout the country to explain the changes and
obtain a commitment from the demobilized to participate and
provide updated contact information. Of 31,000 paramilitary
members demobilized, the program has re-registered over
22,000. In addition, the program will expanded to include
11,000 individual deserters from illegal armed groups. The
HCR has already identified 5,000 individual deserters
eligible for HCR services through the registration process.

4. (SBU) Pinto said HCR shifted 85 percent of its personnel
to the rural regions (previously 37 percent were in regions)
and reduced operating costs by 20 percent while increasing
national coverage. HCR increased its number of Service
Centers from 11 to 29 (28 permanent and 1 mobile), with a new
emphasis on psycho-social assistance. HCR also hired 221
psychologists--1 per 120 persons--to provide support and
field monitoring for each individual's reintegration program.

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Education and Healthcare Access Essential
-----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) The new program offers educational alternatives
tailored to each individual's skills to prepare him/her to
enter the workforce. Pinto said HCR has been able to obtain
30,000 new spaces for basic and high school education, and
made arrangements with 87 educational centers to offer space
to the demobilized for higher education. HCR also designed a
scholarship fund to encourage higher education. Pinto said
the reinsertion program previously had to deal with multiple
healthcare agencies, but now uses one healthcare provider
(Caprecom) greatly increasing efficiency and lowering costs.
More than 73,000 demobilized persons and their family
members--84 percent of the demobilized population--use the
new provider.

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From Financial Dependency to Self-Sufficiency
---------------------------------------------


5. (SBU) High Commissioner for Reintegration Frank Pearl
said the main obstacle to reintegration is not a lack of
jobs, but demobilized paramilitaries' unwillingness to
transition into the legal work force. He has been reaching
out to private firms for job opportunities, but found the
pool of "ready" candidates small. Pinto said the old focus
on the monthly stipend fostered dependency. In contrast, the
new program creates incentives for the demobilized to work.
HCR cut the basic stipend from COP 350,000 (USD 150) to COP
150,000 (USD 75) a month, and added non-monetary assistance
such as food stamps. It also offers financial rewards for
study and work, up to a maximum of COP 400,000 (USD 200), for
those that show extra effort to reintegrate. After several
notable failures, HCR is reevaluating all micro-credit
applications for individual and associative income-generation
projects to ensure they are market-driven and technically
sound enough to warrant private sector support.

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Income Generation Opportunities
-------------------------------

6. (SBU) HCR has made alliances with the private sector to
provide technical assistance for all new productive projects
through a "Bank of Business Professionals," a sort of
"Business Big Brother" program. In the program, the private
sector can invest in projects, support continued education
through a Social Investment Fund (SIF) used for seed grants,
or invest in scholarships for higher education. Thus far,
the HCR has received support from the Gates Foundation and
from numerous Colombian and multinational companies. HCR has
also created two additional funds: a micro-credit fund
requiring more accountability from the demobilized, and a
"peace-building fund" for infrastructure projects. Pinto
said these new initiatives are designed to meet longer-term
goals of "reintegration" rather than immediate relief.
Drucker

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