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Cablegate: Reparations Decree Consultations Give Victims

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #0956 0712107
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 112107Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1880
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8088
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0078
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR 9302
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5997
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6651
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4333
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJC/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BOGOTA 000956

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KJUS PGOV PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: REPARATIONS DECREE CONSULTATIONS GIVE VICTIMS
VOICE IN PROCESS

REF: BOGOTA 955

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Summary
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1. The National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation
(CNRR) held ten regional consultations with hundreds of
victims groups and the general public to discuss the draft
reparations decree. The meetings provided victims an
opportunity to voice their concerns and offer ideas to
improve the reparations process. Participants in Cordoba and
Sucre departments complained of ongoing violence by drug
traffickers and called for the decree to provide larger cash
payments (indemnities). CNRR emphasized efforts to include
the widest pool of victims possible for reparations and
implement a faster administrative process. USAID provided
$125,000 to support the consultations. End Summary.

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Victims Speak Out
-----------------

2. With $125,000 from USAID, CNRR organized ten regional
consultations in February and March to solicit comments from
civil society on the new draft decree on administrative
reparations. Strong turnout at events held in Bogota,
Sincelejo, Bucaramanga, Medellin, Valledupar, Cali, Presto,
Mocoa, Barranquilla and Quibdo underscored CNRR's commitment
to involve victims in the reparations process. Between
500-700 people participated in the Medellin and Bogota
meetings.

3. Monsignor Nel Beltran, a respected CNRR committee member
and long-term advocate for victims in Sucre, launched the
first consultation in Sincelejo on February 14-15. Beltran
said "prompt, just and inclusive" reparations were key to
reconciliation. Officials from the Human Rights Ombudsman
Office, OAS, and the International Organization for Migration
participated as observers. Other groups present included the
Mothers for Peace, Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians,
Association of Evangelical Ministries, and the League of
Women. These reparations consultations -- the first of its
kind in the country -- showed the CNRR's commitment to give
victims'groups a voice in the process. Some victims' groups,
such as the National Movement for Victims of the State,
consider the CNRR to be illegitimate since it was created as
part of paramilitary peace process.

------------------
Decree Needs Work
------------------

4. The victims viewed the decree as a positive step and
expressed appreciation for CNRR's outreach efforts. Still,
they complained that justice is "elusive" because they often
do not know the identity of their perpetrators and even if
they do, they fear reprisals. The decree calls for
guarantees of "no repetition," but some participants said
crimes were "already repeating" in Cordoba department. They
gave high marks to the local Human Rights Ombudsman, Oscar
Luis Herrera, but noted that criminal groups continue to
exert influence in the region because it remains a drug
corridor. Herrera confirmed that the area -- home to wealthy
cattle ranchers connected to paramilitaries such as former
AUC member Salvatore Mancuso -- and drug traffickers continue
intimidating the civil population.

5. Most participants agreed with the decree's key provisions,
but some raised concerns that it does not include victims of
the military and police as well. They called for specific
provisions for indigenous groups, minors, and victims of
anti-personnel mines. The victims complained that many of
the proposed reparation measures are humanitarian aid or
economic development assistance that the state is responsible
for in any case. They suggested indemnity (lump sum payment)
be increased threefold from current projections
($7500-10,000). Regional CNRR team leader Evelio Henao said
the consultations were meant to promote debate over the
decree's contents, but cautioned participants that the decree
will not solve all social and economic problems.
Brownfield

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