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Cablegate: A/S Burns' October 24 Meeting with Reintegration

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FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0379
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7259
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 8402
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ NOV LIMA 4449
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 9731
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5120
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3769
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHOND/DIRONDCP WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 010112

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/25/2016
TAGS: KJUS PGOV PINR PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: A/S BURNS' OCTOBER 24 MEETING WITH REINTEGRATION
CZAR FRANK PEARL


Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Milton K. Drucker
Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (U) October 24, 2006; 8:45PM.

2. (U) Participants:

U.S.

Under Secretary Burns
Ambassador William Wood
USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Mark Silverman
USAID Director Liliana Ayalde
Political Officer Liliana Gabriel (notetaker)

COLOMBIA

Reinsertion Commissioner Frank Pearl
National Planning Advisor Maria Eugenia Pinto
Advisor Juliana Correa

-------
Summary
-------

3. (C) Reintegration Commissioner Frank Pearl told U/S Burns
one of the biggest challenges in his first month has been to
reorient the program to ensure effective long term
reintegration of 43,000 demobilized illegal armed group
members. Pearl said he wanted to change the program's
"one-size-fits-all" approach to a more tailored process for
each demobilized person. He highlighted his efforts to seek
additional encourage donors, such as Microsoft Corporation
and European countries. U/S Burns said he respected the
GOC's accomplishments thus far, and encouraged stronger
implementation to counter skepticism of the process from
civil society groups and some in the U.S. Congress. U/S
Burns suggested the U.S. and Colombia needed to do a better
job of defending the demobilization and reintegration
process. End summary.

------------------------
Reintegration Challenges
------------------------

4. (C) Pearl told U/S Burns his initial efforts involved
reorienting the reintegration process to ensure the effective
reintegration of 43,000 demobilized illegal armed group (IAG)
members. The 43,000 included over 31,000 collectively
demobilized paramilitaries and more than 11,000 individual
deserters from other IAGs, 50 percent of whom were FARC.
Pearl predicted reintegration would take longer than
anticipated and said communities to which the demobilized
were returning must be involved.

5. (C) Pearl said the GOC had devoted unprecedented
financial resources to the reintegration effort. Still,
until his recent appointment, divided and overlapping
responsibilities within the GOC had made coordination and
policy implementation difficult. The Ambassador emphasized
the US had pressed for such a position for almost a year
before the GOC created it. Pearl said more than 80 percent
of the reintegration program's budget went for the monthly
stipend and administrative costs. As a result, little of the
budget went to psychosocial, educational, and occupational
assistance, limiting access to those services.

----------------
Pearl's Strategy
----------------

6. (C) Pearl said he wanted to change the program's
"one-size-fits-all" approach to a more tailored process for
each demobilized. He is considering building psychological,
educational, and occupational profiles on each individual.
He said a bloc commander cannot be treated the same as an
ex-paramilitary rank and file member, since their backgrounds

vary considerably. The Ambassador noted he had met both
leaders and regular foot soldiers during his visit to
Medellin. Some of the paramilitary leaders were former
lawyers, and their educational background separated them from
the rank and file. Pearl suggested differentiating each
demobilized according to their different skills could more
effectively dismantle their structures. In addition, Pearl
wanted to condition eligibility for benefits (including
stipend) on participation in the program.

7. (C) Pearl noted the success of Medellin's reintegration
program, which he hoped to adapt in other regions. The first
step was to transfer the majority of the program's officers
in Bogota to other regions. The second step was to work
closely with local authorities and communities, which for the
most part had been reluctant to work with the national
government. Lastly, the GOC needed to create better
reconciliation programs in areas where the demobilized have
returned.

------------------------------------------
Reaching Out to Donors, Microsoft on Board
------------------------------------------

8. (C) Pearl highlighted his efforts to hire top talent and
encourage donors to participate in the process. Microsoft
Corporation had agreed to further develop systems to track
and manage the demobilized, which would build on the USAID
funded SAME and would help assess the impact of each dollar
invested. The European Union recently donated 5 million
euros to help communities on reconciliation-related efforts
and has expressed an interest in working with child soldiers.
Still, the GOC will be primarily responsible of supporting
the program. He was also organizing a team to develop their
long-term strategy. The team is composed of experts from
Harvard, Princeton and Columbia Universities, EU officials, a
Belgian who has worked on 70 different similar processes
worldwide, and a Briton who just came back from Afghanistan.
The strategy will be completed in December.

----------------------------------------
Burns Encourages Stronger Implementation
----------------------------------------

9. (C) U/S Burns said he respected demobilization
accomplishments but urged stronger reintegration
implementation to counter skepticism from civil society
groups and some in the U.S. Congress. He noted the U.S.
plans to maintain current aid levels to Colombia, ratify the
U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, and to seek extension of
the Andean Trade Preference Drug Eradication Act. He warned,
however, that sustaining U.S. congressional support for
continued U.S. assistance would require GOC progress on human
right cases and effective implementation of the Justice and
Peace Law (JPL). The Ambassador noted that while it is not
Pearl's responsibility, it would be useful if he pressed the
Prosecutor General to begin to apply the JPL.

11. (C) Burns said U.S. and GOC should do a better job of
communicating the progress made on demobilization and
reintegration. Pearl said one must compromise some justice
in a peace process and "you simply cannot have a stick
without a carrot." The challenge was to prevent the
demobilized from returning to crime or joining the FARC.
Burns said it would be useful for Pearl to visit Washington
and brief Congressional representatives. After the meeting,
Pearl said he was ready to go to Washington to discuss the
reinsertion program.

12. (U) This cable has been cleared by U/S Burns.
DRUCKER

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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