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Cablegate: Afro-Colombian Initiatives Advancing but Community

VZCZCXYZ0002
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #1965 1491818
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281818Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3000
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8210
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0489
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAY 9464
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 6230
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 1785
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6888
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4443

UNCLAS BOGOTA 001965

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL ECON SOCI CO
SUBJECT: AFRO-COLOMBIAN INITIATIVES ADVANCING BUT COMMUNITY
DIVISIONS MAKE PROGRESS SLOW

REF: A. BOGOTA 8574
B. BOGOTA 8171

1. (U) Vice President Francisco Santos announced the
official launch of the Commission for Advancement of
Afro-Colombians on May 19. The Commission will identify
barriers to Afro-Colombian socio-economic advancement and
make recommendations on ways to overcome them. Tensions
continue to exist between some Afro-Colombian civic leaders
and Commission organizers. The Black Communities Process
(PCN) and some other Afro-Colombian civic groups continue to
criticize what they perceive as lack of sufficient
representation despite GOC changes to the Commission to
include more voting members (see reftel b). The groups also
complained the GOC did not sufficiently consult with them
before launching the Afro-Colombian National Development
Plan.

2. (U) On May 21 (National Afro-Colombian Day, the day
slavery was abolished in Colombia in 1851), President Uribe
announced the creation of the new "Direccion de Negritudes"
at the Ministry of Interior and Justice. The directorate
formerly was a sub-directorate in the Directorate of Ethnic
groups which included both indigenous and Afro-Colombian
affairs. Directorate head Pastor Murillo told us he hopes
the elevation from sub-directorate to directorate will
increase visibility and access to resources. He noted his
office will soon expand from 9 to 22 staff members. In
contrast, Afro-Colombian Congressional Caucus Secretary
Garcia claimed the announcement was perceived by many
Afro-Colombians as a "show." He said concrete measures will
be necessary to prove that the Uribe administration is
serious about adding more resources to address Afro-Colombian
needs.

3. (U) Also on May 21, the Afro-Colombian Caucus held the
Congressional Plenary Session on Afro-Colombians and Poverty
at the Colombian National Congress. The Ambassador spoke at
the event, noted USG-supported programs for Afro-Colombians,
and hosted a concert at the residence for Afro-Colombian
leaders. The GOC launch of the Commission, the creation of
the new office of Afro-Colombian affairs, and the activities
of the Caucus are positive steps in highlighting
Afro-Colombian concerns, but the controversy over the
Commission shows that regional, political, and personal
rivalries continue to make it difficult to develop a common
Afro-Colombian agenda.
BROWNFIELD

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