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Cablegate: Youth Group Visits Consulate On Plight of Afro-

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS MONTREAL 000999

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAN AND WHA/AND

E.0. 12958:N/A
TAGS: PHUM SOCI PREF CA CO
SUBJECT: YOUTH GROUP VISITS CONSULATE ON PLIGHT OF AFRO-
COLOMBIANS


1. Summary. Two leaders of Black Youth in Action (BYIA), a
Montreal NGO, paid a visit to the Consul General (CG) on
Monday, July 21. The purpose of the visit was to deliver a
letter describing the displacement of the Afro-Colombian
population in Colombia and to request the names of African-
American civil rights leaders to whom BYIA could lobby for
the protection of the Afro-Colombians. The CG provided a
suggested list of organizations to BYIA on July 25. End
summary.

2. BYIA, also known as Jeunesse Noire En Action (JNEA),
was founded in 1999. It is a political and civic
organization composed of Black youth with family,
organizational and interest ties to Africa, the Caribbean,
North America and Latin America. BYIA is "dedicated to
integrating Black youth in the social and political life of
Quebec Province and Canada." The BYIA membership age range
is from 13 to 30. The group has been successful recently in
getting its views heard around Montreal and other parts of
Quebec Province.

3. BYIA Founder and Political Coordinator Peter Flegel and
BYIA member Karl Didier informed the Consul General about
the organization's numerous initiatives in the past year.
The group expressed concern to Montreal Mayor Tremblay about
"racist" remarks made by Municipal Councillor Jeremy Searle
in a borough council meeting; launched a letter-writing
campaign to complain to the Editor-in-Chief of Quebec City's
major paper, Le Soleil, about a cartoon depiction of two
Black Francophones; launched a campaign in Montreal high
schools to combat violence; participated in the United
Nations Working Group on People of African Descent; engaged
municipal, provincial and federal government leaders about
the unemployment rate of Black university graduates; and
mobilized the Black youth vote in the 2003 provincial
election campaign. As a result of its efforts in the 2003
provincial campaign, BYIA has gained the attention of
Premier Jean Charest.

4. The primary purpose of the July 21 visit was to discuss
what BYIA reports as "ethnic cleansing" of the Afro-
Colombian population by the Colombian paramilitary forces.
The BYIA representatives specifically noted a May 2, 2002
bombing that resulted in the death of 119 Afro-Colombians
and the serious injury of 98. BYIA concluded that one of
the main causes for attacks on the Afro-Colombian community
is a link between the amended constitution that provided
Afro-Colombians with collective land ownership rights in
Choco Province and vested interests of Colombian and
multinational companies in the petroleum, uranium and gold
found in the area. BYIA also noted that the Government of
Colombia seeks to build a canal linking the Caribbean Sea
with the Pacific Ocean through land owned by Afro-
Colombians.

5. BYIA reports that Colombian organizations have warned
that further attacks on the Afro-Colombian population are
imminent. BYIA said that it has voiced its concerns to the
Government of Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and
International Trade (DFAIT), urging DFAIT to "pressure the
Government of Colombia to protect the Afro-Colombians from
paramilitary forces, to guarantee Afro-Colombian land
ownership after the civil war has ended, and to implement
social programs to assist the displaced Afro-Colombian
population." BYIA also has urged the Government of Canada
to implement a moratorium on all deportations to Colombia.

6. The two BYIA leaders closed their meeting with the CG by
requesting assistance in establishing contact with major
African American civil rights leaders, so that BYIA could
"inform them about the plight of Afro-Colombians and
encourage them to pressure the U.S. Government to protect
people of African descent in Colombia."

7. The CG faxed Political Coordinator Flegel on July 25, a
list and contact information for the following organizations
with human rights advocacy and/or interest in issues related
to the African diaspora: The National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People, The Congress of Racial
Equality, The King Center, The Rainbow Coalition/Operation
Push, The Carter Center and The Office of the Congressional
Black Caucus.
ALLEN

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