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Cablegate: Goc Sets Up Commission for Advancement Of

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #8574/01 3521746
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181746Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0534
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7944
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9682
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC 9134
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5723
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 0991
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6424
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4224

UNCLAS BOGOTA 008574

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL ECON SOCI CO
SUBJECT: GOC SETS UP COMMISSION FOR ADVANCEMENT OF
AFRO-COLOMBIANS

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SUMMARY
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1. On October 29, 2007, President Uribe issued a decree
creating the Commission for the Advancement of
Afro-Colombians which will identify barriers to
Afro-Colombian socio-economic advancement and make
recommendations on ways to overcome them. Vice President
Santos will chair the commission, and the President of the
Association of Afro-Colombian Municipalities (AMANUFRO),
Oscar Gamboa, will serve as Executive Director. A wide range
of ministries will participate, as well as representatives
from industry, academia, the Afro-Colombian Congressional
Caucus, and civil society. The GOC has also invited prominent
individuals such as Kofi Annan, Colin Powell, and Oprah
Winfrey to support the initiative. END SUMMARY.

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URIBE CREATES COMMISSION
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2. President Uribe issued a decree on October 29 creating
the Commission for the Advancement of Afro-Colombians. The
purpose of the Commission is to evaluate the quality of life
of the Afro-Colombian community, identify barriers that
hinder their social and economic advancement, and make
recommendations to overcome them. Uribe tasked the Commission
to focus on the protection and exercise of Afro-Colombians'
civil rights, especially for women and children. The decree
stipulates that the Commission will have a term of six
months, and its members will convene twice during that
period. At the end of six months, the Commission will present
its recommendations on how to remove existing barriers.

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OSCAR GAMBOA TO LEAD COMMISSION
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3. The GOC announced on December 7 that a prominent member
of the Afro-Colombian community, Oscar Gamboa, would serve as
the Commission's Executive Director. The Commission will be
funded and housed by the office of Vice President Santos.
Gamboa, who is also the President of the Association of
Afro-Colombian Municipalities (AMANUFRO), said the Commission
will be formally launched at a ceremony in mid-February in
San Andres. Still, some of its members are already working.
Currently, Gamboa shuttles between his home in Cali and his
office in the Vice-President's office.

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A MULTI-SECTOR EFFORT UNDERWAY
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4. Other members of the Commission include Vice President
Santos, who serves as President, the Minister of Interior and
Justice, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of
Social Protection, the Minister of Culture, the Director of
the National Planning Department, the Director of the
Department of Administrative Services, the High Commissioner
for Social Action and International Cooperation, the Director
of the Presidential Human Rights Program and the Director of
Ethnic Affairs in the Ministry of Interior and Justice. One
representative each from the Afro-Colombian Congressional
Caucus, AMANUFRO, and the Afro-Colombian community councils
will attend the Commission's meetings as invited guests.

5. Gamboa said the members of Colombia's Afro-Colombian
Congressional caucus, a group of black legislators from
various parties, has not yet agreed on who would represent
them. The representatives of academia and industry will be
chosen by the Vice President. Gamboa said despite some
resistance from Afro-Colombian groups, he will invite some
individuals from outside the Afro-Colombian community to
participate. He believes this will facilitate acceptance of
the Commission's recommendations by broader Colombian
society. For example, he wants University de los Andes
President Carlos Angulo to represent the academic community.
Gamboa added that President Uribe has sent letters to
African-American lawmakers--as well as other prominent
figures like Oprah Winfrey, Kofi Annan, and Colin Powell--
asking them to support the initiative.

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FOCUS ON ATTAINABLE GOALS

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6. The Commission plans to focus on attainable goals, rather
than focusing only on complaints of the Afro-Colombian
community. Gamboa said the first task would be to document
all the commitments the GOC has made regarding
Afro-Colombians, and to identify which of those commitments
have yet to be implemented. Gamboa said he had accepted the
position because he saw it as an opportunity for
Afro-Colombians to make real progress. He praised President
Uribe for taking this "significant step" in improving the
lives of Afro-Colombians, but noted that further resources
would be needed to fund the commission's work.
Brownfield

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