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Cablegate: Afro-Colombian Commission to Begin Work On May 21

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL SOCI ECON CO
SUBJECT: AFRO-COLOMBIAN COMMISSION TO BEGIN WORK ON MAY 21

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SUMMARY
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1. The GOC will announce the official launch of work by the
Commission for Advancement of Afro-Colombians on
Afro-Colombian Day, May 21. Commission Executive Director
Oscar Gamboa said the launch was delayed due to the
perception of some Afro-Colombian communities that they did
not have adequate representation in the body. Gamboa said
the GOC increased the number of voting members to address
these concerns. The Commission will make recommendations to
the GOC and will include three stages: 1) a university study
on Afro-Colombians' socio-economic status, 2) working groups
on human rights, land, development and social issues, and 3)
the reporting, tracking and evaluation of progress. END
SUMMARY.

2. The GOC will announce the official launch of the
Commission for Advancement of Afro-Colombians on
Afro-Colombian Day, May 21 -- the day slavery was abolished
in Colombia in 1851. Commission Executive Director Oscar
Gamboa said the launch--originally planned for February--was
delayed due to some Afro-Colombian communities' perception
that they did not have adequate representation on the body.
Gamboa noted that the Afro-Colombian community is very
divided, with many Afro-Colombia political leaders perceived
as corrupt. He said the GOC consulted widely with different
community groups and altered the Commission's rules to
increase the number of voting members to address the
diversity concern.

3. Gamboa said the Commission will make policy
recommendations to the GOC and will involve three stages: 1)
a university study on Afro-Colombians' socio-economic status,
2) working groups on human rights, land, development and
social issues, and 3) the reporting, tracking and evaluation
of progress. The University of the Andes has already begun
work on the socio-economic study, which will identify the
challenges facing the Afro-Colombian community. The first
results of the study are set to be published in May.

4. Gamboa said the Commission plans to include in the study a
section on the African-American movement in the United
States. He voiced hope that the honorary members of the
Commission from the United States, including Congressman
Gregory Meeks and other members of the Afro-American Caucus,
would share their perspectives with the Commission. He said
the Commission has invited Jesse Jackson to attend the
launch.

5. Gamboa said each working group will coordinate its
activities with the corresponding ministry. He envisions
inviting more civic and other groups, including members of
the clergy, military, chamber of commerce and grassroots
leaders, to participate. The working groups will travel to
12 different cities to hear national, regional and local
perspectives on the issues. The working groups will report
to the Commission every two months. The Commission will make
policy recommendations to the GOC and will also monitor
progress. The GOC set up the Commission for a year, but
Gamboa expects it to be extended.

BROWNFIELD

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