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Cablegate: Colombians March for Victims of Para and State

VZCZCXYZ0139
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #0917 0672352
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 072352Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1826
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0069
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR 9295
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5990
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 1363
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6642
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4326
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNDTA/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1900

UNCLAS BOGOTA 000917

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR CO
SUBJECT: COLOMBIANS MARCH FOR VICTIMS OF PARA AND STATE
VIOLENCE

REF: A. BOGOTA 470 B. BOGOTA 764

1. (U) Summary: On March 6, tens of thousands marched in
cities in Colombia to commemorate victims of paramilitary and
state violence. Turnout was less than that of the February 4
march against the FARC, but participation exceeded
organizers' expectations. March organizer Ivan Cepeda, head
of the National Movement for the Victims of State Violence,
called the event a "political blow" to the GOC. The GOC
provided full authorization and security for the marches.
End Summary.

THOUSANDS MARCH AGAINST PARAS
-----------------------------

2. (U) On March 6, tens of thousands of Colombians marched to
commemorate victims of paramilitaries and certain state
actors. The largest turnout occurred in Bogota, but
thousands also marched in Baranquilla, Medellin, Pereira,
Manizalles, Cucuta, and Arauca, and Bucaramanga. The marches
occurred without serious incident, although a group of
anarchists disrupted the Bogota march. No serious injuries
were reported. The GOC provided full authorization and
security for the events.

3. (U) The march, which was organized by the National
Movement for the Victims of State Violence, was supported by
the opposition Polo Democratico Party, and labor, student,
and human rights groups (ref B). The organizers claimed the
march was apolitical, but the rhetoric leading up to the
march was anti-GOC. The organizers placed photos of
massacres and other news clips of past violence in Bogota's
Plaza Bolivar and lined a main road (7th Ave) in the capital
with black body bags. Ivan Cepeda, head of the Victims
Movement, called the march a "political blow" to the GOC.


INTERNATIONAL COMPONENT
-----------------------

4. (U) The March 6 event was substantially smaller than the
February 4 march against the FARC in which millions of
Colombians participated. Still, turnout exceeded organizers'
expectations. In addition to the events in Colombia, marches
also occurred in Washington, Madrid, Berlin and Buenos Aires.
In Buenos Aires, participants condemned Colombia's attack in
Ecuador and operation against Raul Reyes. In Washington,
protesters criticized Plan Colombia and the U.S.-Colombia
Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Marches in Paris, Caracas, and
Quito voiced support for Venezuelan President Chavez.

Brownfield

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