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Cablegate: Ambassador Brownfield's Visit to Medellin, Antioquia On

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DE RUEHBO #1611/01 1231328
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021328Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2602
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 8177
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0368
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAY LIMA 6178
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 1630
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 6830
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 4424
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS BOGOTA 001611

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/AND (MWELLS); WHA/PDA (PSAMSON/BVASQUEZ-LOWE)
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV EAID PHUM EINV ETRD PTER PREL ECON SOCI CO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR BROWNFIELD'S VISIT TO MEDELLIN, ANTIOQUIA ON
APRIL 15, 2008

1. (U) SUMMARY. The Ambassador traveled on April 15 to Medellin to
open a three-day workshop on protecting cultural patrimony from
looting and illicit trafficking, pay an office call on the Mayor of
Medellin, speak with Martin Luther King (MLK) Fellows at a
Binational Center, address the status of the U.S.-Colombia Trade
Promotion Agreement (CTPA) during lunch with the business community,
hear from victims at the National Commission for Reparations and
Reconciliation, and tour the Fiscalia's National Unit for Justice
and Peace. This first "official" visit to Medellin, outside of the
CTPA/congressional delegation context, was widely covered by the
press and highlighted the fullness of the U.S.-Colombia bilateral
relationship, focusing on human rights, education, and culture, and
trade. End Summary.

U.S.-Colombia Relationship About More Than The CTPA
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (U) During their meeting, the Ambassador thanked Mayor Alonso
Salazar for his support with recent congressional delegations,
congratulated him on the selection of Medellin as the location for
the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly meeting
this June, addressed the status of the CTPA, and suggested the need
for more small/medium Colombian businesses to voice support for the
CTPA. Former Mayor Sergio Fajardo joined Mayor Salazar in noting
the strong level of U.S. private investment in Medellin. (Note:
Fajardo was attending a Colombian education conference where Mayor
Salazar spontaneously led the Ambassador upon greeting and where the
Ambassador then offered an impromptu greeting to the crowd,
encouraging Colombian students to apply for U.S. scholarships).
Approximately 20 members of the press covered the meeting, including
an Associated Press (AP) photographer.

3. (U) With a focus on education and scholarship programs,
Ambassador Brownfield next visited the Medellin Binational Center
where he toured classrooms, the library and multimedia room, and
spoke with 25 MLK Fellows on themes ranging from studying in the
U.S. to outlooks on the U.S. presidential elections. After his
meeting with the MLK fellows, which was open to the press,
Ambassador Brownfield took questions in a press gaggle, using the
opportunity to draw attention to the USG-sponsored cultural
patrimony conference opening later that day.

Optimistic The CTPA Will Eventually Succeed
--------------------------------------------

4. (U) Luis Alfonso, Executive Director of the Medellin American
Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), opened a luncheon with members of the
AMCHAM, Medellin Chamber of Commerce and the National Business
Association of Colombia by asking for the Ambassador's thoughts on
the status of the CTPA. Ambassador Brownfield explained that the
recent congressional developments and that he remained optimistic
about the eventual outcome. The Ambassador also praised the private
sector for their role in transforming the image of Medellin and
thanked them for assistance with USG visitors. The director of
Medellin daily newspaper El Mundo attended the lunch and published
an editorial the following day entitled "A most pleasing visit",
stating that they were cheered by the Ambassador's continued
optimism that the U.S. Congress would ultimately pass the CPTA.

USG Supports Both Justice And Reparations For Vicitms
--------------------------------------------- ---------

5. (U) The Ambassador visited the regional office of the National
Commission for Reparations and Reconciliation (CNRR) which provides
information and attention to victims of the Colombian conflict from
the department of Antioquia. Greeted by Commissioner Jaime
Jaramillo and the director of the center, Eduardo Vega, the
Ambassador toured the facility and received a briefing on the
center's work and the reparations and reconciliation process in the
department. Since it opened in 2007, the CNRR has received over
8,000 victims. Following the briefing, the Ambassador met with a
group of 27 members of the victim's organization, Madres de la
Candelaria, and a smaller delegation representing 23 families,
victims of paramilitary and guerilla activities in the area of
Uraba. The spokespersons of these groups presented testimonies of
the issues affecting victims in Antioquia. The Ambassador
recognized the great efforts of the CNRR and the victims' groups,
emphasizing the importance of reparations to the victims who suffer
the most from the country's conflict, and reiterating the commitment
of the USG to continue supporting the work of the CNRR as lead
agency for the attention to victims.

6. (U) The Ambassador visited Medellin's Office of Fiscalia's

National Unit for Justice and Peace (JP), where he met with the Unit
Coordinator and lead prosecutor. The National Unit is tasked with
investigating demobilized paramilitary and guerilla members;
interviewing, receiving, and recording complaints from victims; and
preparing and administering the required confessions. The Unit is
also responsible for identifying, locating and seizing assets and
other ill-gotten gains (which are then used to compensate victims).
During the visit, the prosecutors provided the Ambassador a
comprehensive presentation about JP legal and administrative process
and its implementation. They led him on a tour of the facilities,
including hearing and victims' rooms, financial support provided by
the USG, and introduced him to several prosecutors and
investigators. The day after the visit, El Colombiano, Colombia's
second largest daily, featured the Ambassador visiting the
Fiscalia's headquarters in a front page, above-the-fold picture.
This served to draw attention to the enormous investments the USG
has made into the construction of the facility as well as the
training of Colombian prosecutors and defenders.

7. (U) Ambassador Brownfield offered welcoming remarks at the
opening ceremony of a workshop sponsored by the U.S. and Colombian
governments and the OAS for "Protecting Cultural Patrimony against
Looting and Illicit Trafficking." Ambassador Brownfield greeted the
specialists who had traveled from the U.S., Argentina, Bolivia,
Chile, Ecuador, and Peru to participate in this three-day workshop
and stressed the importance of international cooperation in the
protection of cultural patrimony.

Huge Success With Colombian Media
----------------------------------

8. (U) Ambassador Brownfield generated an enormous amount of local
broadcast and print media interest, including an editorial calling
him "a great friend" to Colombia. One journalist commented that the
Medellin press corps viewed his visit as the "first time a U.S.
Ambassador to Colombia had shown so much interest in Colombia's
judicial process." Ambassador Brownfield did an exclusive interview
with Teleantioquia, Colombia's largest regional channel reaching all
of the Department of Antioquia and the rest of the country via
cable. Questions focused on the prospects for the CPTA, former
paramilitary leader alias Macaco's pending extradition, and whether
the Ambassador enjoyed eating the local food.

BROWNFIELD

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