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Cablegate: Aguilas Negras and Threats Against Human Rights

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #1197 0912258
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 312258Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2173
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8121
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0175
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ APR 9348
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 6044
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 1442
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6698
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4360

UNCLAS BOGOTA 001197

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL ECON SOCI CO
SUBJECT: AGUILAS NEGRAS AND THREATS AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS
GROUPS

REF: A. A. BOGOTA 917
B. B. BOGOTA 1095

--------
Summary
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1. (C) The GOC decried the recent violence and threats
reported by various human rights groups after the March 6
march against para and state violence, and met with them to
discuss their security. The GOC said preliminary
investigations show that in three of the four union murders,
the motives were not related to the march or the victims'
union affiliation. Human rights groups blamed Uribe advisor
Jose Obdulio Gaviria's comments linking the march to the FARC
for the threats made by the "Aguilas Negras" criminal group.
The GOC claims the "Aguilas Negras" presence in Bogota is
small and limited to extortion. We urged Gaviria to end his
criticism of the groups. End summary.

2. (C) The GOC consulted with human rights groups on the
reports of violence and threats against human rights
defenders made by various criminal groups, including the
"Aguilas Negras." Between March 4 and March 11, four trade
unionists, some of whom were reportedly associated with the
March 6 event, were killed (reftel A). We met with march
organizer and National Victims of State Violence leader Ivan
Cepeda on March 17 to hear his concerns. Cepeda told us only
one of the four union victims was directly involved in the
march, but said the others belonged to groups that supported
the event.

3. (SBU) The GOC publicly decried the threats and violence.
Presidential Human Rights Program Director Carlos Franco said
the GOC called a special meeting with the human rights groups
on March 12 to discuss their security. Colombian National
Police (CNP) Lt. Col. Fernando Buitrago Rueda said the CNP is
investigating the threats, as well as the deaths of four
claimed labor unionists.

4. (SBU) Ambassador Brownfield's met with one of the human
rights groups, the Association for Alternative Social Policy
(MINGA), to hear their concerns on March 18th (reftel B). We
also met with Diana Gomez, one of the human rights workers
who received an e-mail threat from the Aguilas Negras, on
March 28 to discuss her security and possible temporary
departure from the country. She left for Sweden on March
30th to attend a human rights conference, and said she
planned to stay there for one month. We arranged a meeting
for her with Rafael Bustamante, the Director the Protection
Program, and they mutually agreed on starting protection
measures immediately upon her return.

5. (SBU) Local and international human rights groups
criticized Uribe advisor Jose Obdulio Gaviria's statements
linking the March 6 event to the FARC. They complained that
these comments stigmatize the legitimate work of human rights
defenders and incite violence against them. PolCouns met
with Gaviria on March 28 to express concern about his
statements. Gaviria said Vice-President Francisco Santos
would write a conciliatory letter responding to the human
rights groups' complaints; he also committed to drop his
criticism of the groups.

6. (SBU) Media and human rights groups--citing reports by
the Human Rights Ombudsman--claim the "Aguilas Negras" have a
presence in Bogota, especially in the capital's poorer
neighborhoods in the south. Franco said the CNP's
investigation of the "Aguilas Negras" threat is ongoing, but
said the GOC has no evidence to date of a significant
"Aguilas Negras" presence in Bogota. CNP Commander Oscar
Naranjo said any "Aguilas Negras" activity in Bogota is small
and limited to extortion.

BROWNFIELD

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