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Cablegate: Law of Equality and Opportunity Unlikely This Term

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #3422/01 3021417
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 291416Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0551
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0132
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0462
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 0488
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA

UNCLAS BOGOTA 003422

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM CO
SUBJECT: LAW OF EQUALITY AND OPPORTUNITY UNLIKELY THIS TERM

REF: REF A: BOGOTA 1891; REF B: BOGOTA 3296

SUMMARY

-------

1. (SBU) The bill of Equality and Opportunity for Afro-Colombians
will most likely not pass this legislative term. Members from the
Afro-Colombian Caucus told us that due to the pre-electoral
campaign season passing any piece of legislation was difficult.
Moreover, the Vice President's Office told us if the law was not
presented by October 15 there would not be enough time to pass it
in one legislative term, which is required for this type of law.
Without this legislation, there is no legally binding document that
implements the recommendations established by the Intersectoral
Commission for the Advancement of Afro-Colombians in May 2009.
There is some headway being made on the design of an Executive
Order (CONPES), but it is unclear whether this document will have
any impact. END SUMMARY.

Background on the Law of Equality and Opportunity

--------------------------------------------- ----

2. (U) The GOC designed the Law of Equality and Opportunity to
implement the recommendations of the Intersectoral Commission for
the Advancement of Afro-Colombians, Raizales, and Palenqueros,
published in May 2009(ref. A). The bill was supposed to be drafted
by July 20 by the Office of Ethnic Affairs in the Ministry of
Interior and Justice (MOIJ) in coordination with the Office of the
Vice President, but tensions between these two offices caused
delays. The law is one of two mechanisms the commission suggested
for implementing their recommendations (the other was an Executive
Order or CONPES).

"Law of Equality and Opportunity is Dead"

-----------------------------------------

3. (SBU) In a meeting on October 21, Afro-Colombian Caucus member
Hemel Hurtado Angulo (Valle del Cauca) told the Deputy Chief of
Mission (DCM) the "Law of Equality and Opportunity is dead for
now." He explained that Caucus members are more focused on
re-election. On October 9, in a meeting between Congressman Meeks,
the DCM, the USAID Director, and Afro-Colombian Caucus members,
Representative Franklin Legro also noted the pre-electoral campaign
season was making it difficult to get any bill passed through
Congress (ref. B).

4. (SBU) On August 10, Alexandra Parra from the Vice President's
Office told Poloff that if the law was not introduced by October 15
at the latest, it would not pass the necessary four Congressional
debates in one legislative term. (Note: Since the law plans to make
"ethnic identity" a fundamental right it is considered to be a
"statutory" law and required to be passed in one legislative term.
End Note.)

HEADWAY ON DESIGNS OF CONPES, BUT UNCLEAR OF IMPACT

--------------------------------------------- ------

5. (U) Some headway has been made on the design of an Executive
Order (CONPES), but this instrument does not carry the same weight
as a law. Four CONPES already exist on Afro-Colombian issues,
including one establishing affirmative action policies, but many of
them are not implemented in practice. Still, on September 28 and
29, 30 government officials led by the Department of National

Planning (DNP) met to discuss the design of the CONPES. (Note: In
Colombia, a CONPES is drafted by the DNP and approved by pertinent
Ministers and the President. End Note.) According to Parra, from
the Vice President's Office, the final draft is expected by
December and the CONPES should be signed in January 2010.
BROWNFIELD

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