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Cablegate: Ngo Consultation Focuses On Afro-Colombian And

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UNCLAS BOGOTA 007038

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KJUS CO
SUBJECT: NGO CONSULTATION FOCUSES ON AFRO-COLOMBIAN AND
INDIGENOUS LAND ISSUES

1. Summary: On September 14, we hosted a discussion of
Afro-Colombian and indigenous issues with human rights
groups. Participants criticized the GOC's "democratic
security" policy as a pretext to transfer lands traditionally
belonging to indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities to
large commercial interests, but acknowledged the need for
these communities to strengthen internal organization and
eliminate corruption. Several charged racism remains
widespread in Colombian society, contributing to security
force abuses against Afro-Colombians and indigenous. The
groups applauded Colombian National Police Director (CNP)
General Oscar Naranjo's invitation to provide input to its
plans to reform CNP training and methods, and urged the
Colombian Armed Forces to do the same. End Summary.

2. On September 14, we hosted our quarterly consultations
with human rights groups. As agreed previously with the
human rights groups, the discussions focused on issues
affecting Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities.
Attendees included: Alejandra Vega of Comision Colombiana de
Juristas (CCJ), Mildrey Corrales Charry of Coordinacion
Colombia-Europa EU, Amaury Padilla of Asociacion Para La
Promocion Social Alternativa (MINGA), Juan de Dios Mosquera
of Movimiento Nacional por los Derechos Humanos de las
Comunidades Afrocolombianas (CIMARRON), Augustin Jimenez of
Comite de Solidaridad con los Presos Politicos (CSPP), Raul
Molina Franco of Fundacion Reiniciar, Geilar Romana of
Asociacion de Afrocolombianos Desplazados (AFRODES), Diana
Munoz of Colectivo de Abogados, Mario Gomez of Fundacion
Restrepo Barco, Dario Senerjia of Organizacion Nacional
Indigena de Colombia (ONIC) and Ivan Danilo Rueda of Comision
de Justicia y Paz.

3. Participants voiced concern over the lack of a strong
legal framework to protect collectively titled land held by
Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, as well as weak
protection of such rights at the local level. They said many
local authorities conspire with commercial interests to
defraud Afro-Colombian and indigenous groups of their land.
ONIC and CIMMARON criticized past laws for not being
sufficiently sensitive to the historic injustices suffered by
these communities, but said the situation has deteriorated
further under President Uribe. Several charged that the
GOC's approach to rural development--embodied in the rural
development law as well as new Forestry and Mining
Codes--promotes the transfer of land and resources from
Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities to powerful
commercial interests. They also claimed the rural
development law will facilitate the legalization of
paramilitary seizures of Afro-Colombian and indigenous lands.

4. ONIC said indigenous communities--especially in Putumayo,
Cauca and Cauca--are victims of security force violence,
including killings, stigmatization, and displacement. ONIC,
AFRODES, and CIMARRON claimed racial discrimination remains
widespread and called for legal reforms to address these
concerns. AFRODES and CIMARRON said Afro-Colombian community
leaders ("consejos comunitarios") have the authority to
administer collective lands and negotiate with private firms
over land use, but complained many consejos are inefficient
or corrupt. They acknowledged the communities need better
political and internal organization. CIMARRON Director Juan
De Dios Mosquera said the GOC has still not collectively
titled large tracts of land traditionally used by
Afro-Colombians. He also noted the GOC has not met its
obligation to make credit available to communities with
collective titles, adding that it is impossible for such
groups to access private credit.

5. Several participants complained against the
ineffectiveness of Plan Colombia and displacement caused by
aerial eradication. Colectivo de Abogados representative
Diana Munoz said Plan Colombia contributes to the
"militarization" of the GOC's response to social protests,
noting the GOC's use of helicopters to break up an indigenous
protest in Cauca. Agusto Jimenez of CSPP said human rights
groups recently met with Colombian National Police Chief
General Oscar Naranjo to discuss their concerns. Naranjo
welcomed civil society to assist his efforts to reform CNP
training and methods. Jimenez said it would be useful if the
Armed Forces launched a similar initiative.

6. All participants thanked us for hosting the exchange and
for continuing regular meetings with human rights groups.
Several voiced appreciation for visits by Embassy officials
to local human rights groups' offices, saying such visits

raise their profile and provide them an extra degree of
protection. We will hold the next consultations--which will
focus on the statutorily setting human rights conditions--in
early December.
Brownfield

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