Cablegate: Ambassador's November 6 Meeting with Cnrr
DE RUEHBO #8025/01 3171437
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131437Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0074
INFO RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 0621
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN PRIORITY 1321
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 2100
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9526
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ NOV 9042
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5618
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 9986
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 0809
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6245
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 2364
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4161
UNCLAS BOGOTA 008025
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KJUS AR CI GM SP SZ CO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S NOVEMBER 6 MEETING WITH CNRR
PRESIDENT EDUARDO PIZARRO
1. (U) National Commission for Reconciliation and Reparations
(CNRR) President Eduardo Pizarro thanked the Ambassador for
USG support, reviewed CNRR progress in addressing legitimacy,
organizational and coordination challenges, and outlined his
future priorities in a November 6 meeting. He noted that
human rights groups, especially in Bogota, continue to
question the CNRR's legitimacy, but said the Commission has
made inroads with victims' groups in rural areas. Pizarro
said the CNRR's top priorities involve expanding its network
of regional offices and changing the reparation scheme from a
judicial process to an administrative approach. He
volunteered to organize U.S. congressional delegations
meetings with victims. END SUMMARY.
2. (U) The Ambassador paid a courtesy call on November 6 to
National Commission for Reconciliation and Reparations (CNRR)
President Eduardo Pizarro. USAID Director and Polcouns also
3. (SBU) Pizarro said the CNRR faced serious legitimacy,
organizational and coordination challenges when it began work
two years ago. Many human rights groups opposed the Justice
and Peace Law (JPL) and refused to work with the CNRR. "Our
legitimacy with human rights groups equaled ten degrees below
zero," Pizarro commented. The CNRR also lacked employees,
office space, and clear guidance on how to approach its task.
Moreover, inter-agency rivalries complicated efforts to
coordinate the CNRR's work with the multiple GOC agencies
involved in attending victims' needs. These difficulties made
many international donors reluctant to support the CNRR's
work, further hindering its efforts to get off the ground.
Pizarro thanked the USG for its support, adding that the USG
had helped the CNRR from its inception.
4. (SBU) Pizarro noted that the CNRR has made progress in
overcoming these obstacles. Through its work with victims,
the CNRR has made some inroads with human rights groups,
especially in rural areas. Progress has moved slowly with
Bogota-based groups, which tend to exhibit more ideological
behavior which reflects the country's political polarization.
"Our legitimacy has climbed to seven degrees below zero,"
Pizarro remarked. He conceded that the CNRR's failure to
provide direct benefits to victims to date has hurt the
Commission, but noted that similar reparations efforts in
Argentina, Chile and Spain required several years before they
became effective. CNRR's credibility would improve as it
begins to deliver concrete reparations to more victims.
5. (SBU) Pizarro said CNRR has built the institutional and
analytical framework needed to implement effective reparation
programs. In addition to its central office, CNRR has set up
regional offices in Sincelejo, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, and
Medellin. The regional offices contain one-stop,
informational centers for victims, enabling the CNRR to help
victims to enroll in the process, as well as to receive legal
and psychological assistance. They also house a one-stop
"disappeared persons" identification unit. Pizarro said
interagency collaboration remains an issue, but added that
the creation of an inter-agency JPL coordination committee
chaired by Interior and Justice Minister Holguin has improved
cooperation. These advances have allowed the CNRR to assist
25,000 of the 80,000 victims who have registered to date in
the JPL process.
6. (SBU) Asked about the CNRR's priorities, Pizarro said the
CNRR focuses on: 1) increasing the number of its regional
offices, and 2) changing the mechanism for compensating
victims from the judicial process to an administrative
approach. He noted that the CNRR plans to increase its
regional offices from five to twelve, adding sites in Cali,
Valledupar, Neiva, Pasto, Cartagena, and Mocoa. USAID
provides support for the Valledupar, Bogota, Medellin,and
Bucaramanga centers and plans to fund the Choco office. The
Germans and Swiss will fund some of the new offices, but the
CNRR will need funding from other donors as well.
7. (SBU) Pizarro said the CNRR will also need international
support for the shift from judicial reparations to an
administrative process. The CNRR's review of other countries'
experiences with judicial reparations shows that such
processes do not work. The judicial route seems especially
inappropriate for Colombia given the large number of victims,
most of whom are poorly educated women living in rural areas.
To date, not a single victim has received compensation
through the JPL process. An administrative approach would
provide more efficient and timely relief.
8. (SBU) Pizarro said the CNNR envisions a two-stage
reparations model. In the first stage, the GOC would ensure
that victims benefit from the full range of existing GOC
health, education, training, and welfare programs. In the
second, the GOC would pay small pensions to victims. Pizarro
acknowledged that the GOC lacks the resources to pay pensions
to all victims at once. The CNRR proposed that the GOC
phase-in pensions over a five-year period, starting with the
most vulnerable such a widows, handicapped, and the elderly.
He said the CNRR will draft a decree, as well as new
legislation, to implement the program. Pizarro admitted that
neither the CNRR nor the GOC has prepared a budget for the
RESTITUTION OF LAND
9. (SBU) Questioned about restitution of stolen land, Pizarro
said the administrative compensation scheme would not
substitute for returning property to their rightful owners.
The CNRR supports the creation of regional commissions tasked
with restoring land and other properties to victims.
President Uribe will soon sign a decree setting up such
commissions. To date, one family had its Cordoba department
farm restored, and four more families will receive their
property back later in November.
U.S. CONGRESSIONAL MEETINGS WITH VICTIMS
10. (U) The Ambassador noted that visiting U.S. Congressional
delegations find meetings with demobilized paramilitaries
very useful, and asked if the CNRR could arrange similar
sessions with victims. Pizarro said he would do so, adding
that eight collective reparations projects remain underway in