US Embassy Officials
Paddy Inman chaired the meeting.
(note: some of these notes are rough, the thought process sketchy at best)
Our group was requested to not refer to any of these people by name, but only as "embassy staff", "embassy officials", etc.
We met with:
person - job description
Staff 1 - US Aid (USAID)
Staff 2 - One of two Human Rights officers
Staff 3 - 28 years with US Army
Staff 4 - Political Economic Counselor, 28 yrs in foreign service in other Latin American countries; here all of three weeks; previously worked two years Department State, Senior Colombian desk officer.
Staff 5 - Eradication Program officer.
Q: Which groups within civil society are you consulting with on a regular basis, and do you consult with unions?
Staff 4: In inaugural delegation that came here, there were ten officials. One of them was Amy Zolick, Assistant Secretary. Paula Gobriaski for global affairs kind of oversees a variety of important departments, including Human Rights bureau, for example. They met with five leading civil society leaders for breakfast to listen to their views. The embassy has regular meetings with civil society.
Staff 2: One of my main focuses is labor affairs. We see overlap of labor and human rights. Ive had regular contact with CUT and other union federations, and with USO, and food workers, and mine workers union. Ive met them in the embassy and in their places. Ive been to Barranca seven times. I have good relations with them. We mention those concerns in reports to Washington. I also work closely with the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center, the Labor School in Medellin, and the Ministry of Interior Protection Program. We have sent threatened unionists to a labor school in the US, for education and protection.
Staff 1: Has worked closely with AFL-CIO solidarity center, a national labor college (?), an NGO based in Medellin on labor and union issues. Developed and administered program; able to send threatened labor for one year to train with AFL-CIO. Try a variety of approaches to assist and emphasize what the nature of the problem is to Washington.
"We are financing a protection program for threatened people either within the country or outside. This includes mayors, etc." Program through Ministry of Interior originally included protection of union leader/members; either move people threatened within country, or out. Humanitarian assistance a few months, particular programs for threatened mayors; counsel members because of what happened with FARC threats in about 1100 municipalities.
Q: To what extent does Washington rely on your reports when formulating policy?
Staff 4: Washington relies very much on embassy reporting. A lot of people report on various aspects. The reporters are a small number compared to those providing programs. Reporting on the economy, the views of a variety of people who support and oppose U.S. policy.
These come to the desk in Washington and we set priorities based on this. We have a constant stream of people coming to visit us, providing a spectrum of views. Yes, it's a very important guide. The embassy provides the details, and interprets whats going on in country. It is very difficult to move beyond a macro view of what is going on in Colombia without the details.
Very large embassy here in Bogotá. Nonetheless, staff in embassy small compared to those with programs, supportive programs, with particular cases. Judicial system here very slow working, it takes a special effort to find out where a case is. Reporting (on economys weaknesses and strengths?) for American investors, reporting on the views of whole variety of people who support, oppose US policy, political development, all of these kind of reports come to desk and we at desk get basic orientation to which of these issues we should work on. Embassy report very important role; supplemented by stream of visitors -- political, human rights, Colombian journalists, provide wide spectrum of views, realize cant be captive to any one particular group and their interpretation of whats happening in Colombia.
Q: Has preface bear; with me. Given that the US currently is involved in international war on terrorism, state department has labeled AUC terrorist, the US State Department links Colombian military to the AUC, and the recent announcement that AUC will disband: Are there any changes in policy?
Staff 4: Ill start with a couple of things. The relationship between the paramilitary and military is not an institutional one. Where it does exist, it is basically personnel who have sympathy for paramilitary who may share info, look the other way. But these personnel are acting in their own manner not sanctioned by the military high command. The Colombian government views the AUC as a long-term danger. The number is dwindling of officials who see the AUC as doing what the military isnt getting done. We are providing help to strengthen the human rights unit of the government to prosecute human rights violators whether AUC or FARC. Weve seen a trend in the last six months in which the FARC does more human rights violations than the paramilitaries. Our policy is to strengthen the governments ability to prosecute human rights violators.
Staff 3: Theres no more relationship between the Colombian military and the AUC than between the Colombian military and the FARC. At times, members of the military collaborate with the enemy. The enemy could be the FARC or the AUC. But the military views the AUC as a threat to the military.
Staff 2: The AUC is a terrorist organization. Although the AUC will be disbanded, they will still be terrorists. So theres no change in our policy. We recognize that the AUC represents a significant danger to long term stability of Colombia. Colombians who view AUC in somewhat sympathetic light, see the AUC doing the job the military isnt doing, has reduced as more and more realize AUC also involved in kidnapping and drug trade. We have labeled AUC along with FARC, ELN a terrorist organizations.
Delegation members Joe Jr. and Daniel at the USA briefing
We support various orginazations within government to strengthen the judicial system to human rights units which successfully captured, prosecuted AUC members. Our strategy is basically to try to assist Colombian government to prosecute human rights offenders whether AUC or FARC. FARC also guilty of large number human rights violations. We've seen distinct trend in 6 months in which FARC (were) guilty of more human rights violations than AUC. AUC changed modus operandi. Saw what happened yesterday. US government to prosecute regardless of affiliation. Military perspective: military views AUC as significant threat for variety of reasons, of course. Could argue no more Colombian military-AUC links than Colombian military and FARC links. The problem they encounter is at the grassroots level: there are secondary and other issues that they face, and they do encounter incidents where soldier or NCO or officer are found to collaborate with enemy soldier. My experience working with Colombian military is they are going after those particular incidents trying to prosecute them. And as (an) institution (they) view AUC as major threat to the military institution.
Staff 2: To respond to whether the US government changed its attitude to AUC: Answer is no, it is a terrorist organization. We work with the Colombian government in the same way, helping it to disband them. We have to analyze. Paramilitary etc remain terrorist organizations and our organization treats them as such.
Q: I also would like to thank you for being with us. We know approximately $2 billion was approved for Plan Colombia and Andean region. How much of what has been allocated is non-military and how much distributed, and what obstacles have you encountered in this distribution?
Staff 1: The social distribution a little less than half billion for five years. USAID is the implementing agencies. Distribution is limited by security concerns. But we are going into Putumayo and Chocó. The biggest chunk of money is for the displaced. One of the most difficult issues in using the money is security in parts of the country where most needed. Areas that desperately need social invest cant get it because we cant put American and Colombian lives in jeopardy by getting to difficult regions. Nevertheless working (in a) fairly hot spot [Putamayo?]. Will be in Caqueta.
My three programs for US aid in Colombia, I can give you here. In human rights we have $28 million for 5 years. Have to understand these amounts are not set in stone; I always go begging for more.
Justice: $ 23.5 million.
Assistance to local governments is about the same as the human rights program. $22 million for local governments.
Also about $3 million support the discrete peace initiatives. We support peace negotiations. Of course, I dont know how that is going to change. Weve already met the new high commissioner for Peace. What we're doing is parallel to official level support to Colombian NGO, one way or another. For ex Afro-Colombian
organizations, indigenous NGOs, womens organizations, basic and childrens, act one way or another with peace initiatives.
Staff 5: Like to add, if you dont mind. Breakdown isnt necessarily as clear cut as it sounds. Im in narcotics. We have trained 24 Colombian medics, including in medical evacuation.We try to help the army provide medical services to communities. Were hoping to expand this -- help them go to all these little towns that suffered from lack of medical services and they do other things. Colombian army bring toys, try to bring sense of community.
Another working on system for verification of complaints. We dont want innocent bystanders to be harmed by the eradication program. So we spend a lot on trying to help the Colombian government to track these concerns. Were trying to convince the Colombian government it isnt necessary to blame somebody. I think well soon be able to pay some of these claims. Its not under the line item of social development.
Problem with Colombian government: if damages are paid, they feel they have to find someone responsible. Get government little bit of overspray compensations. Tremendous amount of fraud - work on some cases where think: yes, we can pay, but tremendous amount of fraud.
Staff 3: Direct support to the military is limited largely to narco-battalions. But its hard to draw a line between the the military and social. Of the $500 million, only $144 million is actually going to the Colombian military. Even that part isnt all military stuff. Were training two brigades out of twenty Colombian brigades. If we try to distinguish military aid vs other social program, it's very difficult to figure that where one starts the other stops short. Consider money going to support Colombian military -- within it are many programs. For example, over $100 million legal, judicial, professional judge advocate military court along model of ours. Why part of human rights, but money comes out of military support of Plan Colombian? And maj military supply helicopter. The US trains only two of the military brigades in army with over 20 brigades only working with counter narc and 12th brigade works in s principally counter narcotics. Support very small portion of the military.
Q: In Soacha, we were privileged to meet with Afro-Colombians. In Barranca we saw displaced women and children begging in streets. Clearly the problem of displacement is enormous. (What) will it take to raise to tolerable level medical, employment, health, safety social infrastructure and what role does US assistance play ? What will it take to raise the quality of life of the displaced?
Staff 4: Ill start off. The problem of internally displaced in Colombia is really enormous. Colombia is one of countries with highest number of internally displaced. Saw variety of numbers of displaced. One come to mind perhaps 30-40,000 -- sometimes see larger numbers; not in position to say. Demand clearly exceeds whats in place. International efforts are stepping up. The U.S. government is the largest single contributor, I think, not totally sure.
The fundamental reason is the lack of state security. You probably read about thousands of people being driven out of a town by FARC. AUC used to do this regularly. These people go to cities, basically gravitate to urban area. I've been to Soacha. Even though income levels are very low, they managed to build brick houses. In other places, the internally displaced literally put up cardboard, etc. Actually those came to the urban areas that international aid focused on. The international community is doing something. The problem is so great: has outstripped the resources. Most worrisome. As long as endemic conflict going on in which government cannot impose rule by law. Constant production internally displaced in very great law.
Staff 1: If I may add to what Alex said. For government to react, the people have to register as Internally Displaced Persons (IDP). But they dont, out of fear, and many times out of ignorance. A stigma here that is widely held, is that if someone is an IDP, maybe (she) did something to get themselves displaced -- to one of the sides, i.e., FARC, ELN, AUC. So they are perceived as engaged against each other - not as civilian victims.
We have some one-stop legal places for people to come to to get help, casas. The people of the community begin to complain because the IDPs are coming to the casas that are set up for the community. Our program for the IDP is not a handout program. Jobs, housing, microenterprises. Colombia is number one or two in the world in IDP. Example justice program to increase access to justice, two cases so far, born in Colombia (and) exported to different parts of world. One step to others who otherwise would have not access to..when displaced gravitate to Casa (the program she speaks of), not cause have legal (problem). Auto- overburdens the Casa, (Im) telling (you this) because Ive been there.
Begin to pull out this is our cases. IDP dont have what need --, contemplate maybe enlarging the program but very difficult. So its extremely complicated. Like Alex, as long as no security will have this problem. If one thing doesnt want to be hand-out program. Creation of jobs, assist with housing, with jobs in sense sustainable, not last 1-2 months, micro-enterprises. Colombia is the second or third (country) with largest IDP problem. Alex and political section exclusive focus IDP programs.
Staff 2: We have an officer whose job is this issue. Unfortunately hes not here today. He travels to places where there is massive displacement. We work closely with IDP. When theres a likelihood of a massive displacement, we go there. The ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross?] plays an important role. Do have someone dedicated in the issue brought someone who want to present time to that issue. Everytime i hear of massive displacement every time try to -- the actors, what would take to have international community. When come again let us know you want to talk about this because he would be the appropriate person (for you to discuss them with).
Staff 1: If there was a likelihood of major movement in January when negotiations were about to break down, immediately went there. Plug for ICRC that does magnificent job here in Colombia, not only willing but successfully broker --- all the actors, FARC, AUC in order to conduct their work. Very important role here.
Phil: Quick clarification. When you said 30-40,000 are you talking about per year?
Staff 4: I wouldnt attach any credibility to that number. DELETE what I said earlier about the number of displaced. Id say what Anna said better. Colombia is second or third largest internally displaced problem in world.
Q: Regarding fumigation: A number of campesinos have reported birth defects, etc., whether these occurred by design or default. Certainly we know from Senators Wellstones experience when he attended demonstration of aerial spraying that chemical drift is a problem. Campesinos say the drift forces them to grow illicit crops for first time to feed their family, ironically. Also learned that six governors have put forth "plans of life" for non-toxic eradication of coca.
Q: We wonder two things: How many campesinos who were accidentally sprayed were paid damages for respiratory, etc., problems, and for crops wiped out. How much were they paid? And what is the status of your consultations with the governors regarding their Plans of Life?
Staff 5: First would like to make sure. Do you know how spraying is done? They fly in a staggered formation. Their orders are to spray only when they see coca. They have a lot of training. They are not supposed to
spray when they see people in the field or not spray houses, etc. The things people claim that the product, including the surfactant, is causing, are not physically possible, not scientifically feasible. But it is possible to kill other crops. The policy is if coca and other crops are interspersed, we spray. But sometimes claims have been made from areas where we havent sprayed. We have about 200-206 claims that are legitimate. If a plant is killed, you can replant immediately.
We think weve found a legitimate complaint in Nariño. Possibly another two. The government of Colombia is coming to recognize the need to pay for damages. Those three claims will probably be paid soon. Ive been in a helicopter above Putumayo. Its a real challenge. Some kind of other program might be made to work by putting pressure on people through the spraying program. (?) If you replant coca and get sprayed again... [My notes are incomplete here, but I think what she was saying is that by re-spraying every time they re-plant, you will discourage them.]
Staff 3: 80% of the glyphosate used in Colombia is used to kill weeds in legal agriculture.
Staff 5: There is some eye irritation, like soap in your eyes. But no other physical effects on people or animals. Its the desire of all concerned to have a process to address concerns. We havent paid out any money yet. But we havent found anybody yet to give it to. Weve been looking. My attitude is lets pay them. But the Colombian government is more hesitant. The other 236 possibly valid complaints will get a fair hearing.
Guys with lots of lots of experience -- if you saw "Space Cowboy" ! -- lots of experience flying in formation. They know their orders are only to spray when visually see coca. Push button to spray. I saw it -- it's kinda cool looking -- they open the valve to spray when there's coca; stop spraying when not; so guys received training to identify coca, not accidentally spraying palm or other kinds of crops, and not supposed to spray when they see people in field houses. I'm pretty confident that vast majority is going where it's supposed to go, but nothing is 100 percent agree. The things claimed -- the causes are not physical possibly. There are reams and reams on glyphosate and the soap. All it does is disrupt the photosynthesis; nothing has effect on humans or fish or animals.
Government received 2000 complaints, the vast majority in Putumayo. 800 determined absolutely impossible, because there was no spraying. Because we can tell the exact geometric, how to keep track of where it's been and where still have to go. There is no way that his damages could be. Managed to weed out 800; have about 200/ 236 that are legitimate and need verification.
On road last week and half. A lot of times really subtle. Glyphosate, it can get on leaf surface and can regrow immediately. So if we dont get out in hurry to verify, it's hard to get verify. We are working on getting government of Colombia to speed up, when they have complaint, to get out. Well. I think I actually found a legit claim. I think we'll be able to pay him and another coffee farmer in the Ceasar. Whole thing about sovereign country. And government Colombia come to believe --- So these 3 cases no ones also received money. Hope in week or two able to say yeah weve paid damages.
Re: the Plans of Life: Im sure you know the pact try to manually eradicate the crop. Ive been in a helicopter in Puntamayo. There is amazing devastation, slash and burn. Hoping though: if they lose coca twice, maybe its not worth it anymore. Hope we can pressure them to move into finding a legal way. Its an ongoing process.
Staff 3: It's interesting. The director of NASA (?) points out that only 20% of the glyphosate sprayed in Colombia is for eradication: 80% is by legal agriculture. They spray the same on legal agriculture because its an effective way to kill weeds. Virtually no complaints from where it is sprayed in legal agriculture business. Statistics (about its) damage to people and livestock is not valid.
Staff 5: Only want to make sure -- there is some risk of damage if it gets into eyes. The formulation were using (the categories are 1, 2, 3, 4) and were what we're using now is 3 for eyes. Its gonna sting. Wont permanently damage. Process moving to level four.
One minute for clarifying question: Just to ask -- youre saying not a single case in renumumeration. How does that inform the consultation with the EPA that is now underway ?
Desire of everyone involved to have viable process for addressing concerns. I can say were there. Havent paid out money. But can't find anybody. Not that havent been looking, not that havent been addressing concerns. I and Americans want to error on the side of paying if not sure---. Colombians are on side -- this would open floodgates; also that it's an injustice, if people are paid and dont earn it. (I feel) comfortable saying (there) is (a) system for addressing the 236 (laughingly) going to get a thorough hearing and --.
Q: Many of us believe an oil oligarchy is in power. Is -- and the policy in -- seems driven not only by oil in Colombia also Venezuela and Ecuador. What other factors drive US strategies in the region?
Staff 4: I wouldnt agree that its military intervention. Were here by invitation of the Colombian government. I suppose you want to know why we want to protect the Caño Limon pipeline. That pipeline is an important resource for the Colombian government to function. It provides $500 million (per year ?) to the Colombian government. I not only talk about in Colombia. Also Ecuador, wouldnt agree with your assessment (that it's) military intervention, because basically our invitation is from a Colombian government (that was) democratically elected. So I disagree with your characterization there, but your focus of question is why do we want to support the Colombian governments ability to support the Cano pipeline, and our answer is basically this pipeline produced -- I believe -- $ 500 million of federal reserves for Colombian government that it desperately needed to fund its operations, including the social services that it funds. So that resource is very important to the Colombian government for its functioning.
Staff 3: Ive been working on this. Regarding security in Colombia, every problem in Colombia comes back to a lack of security. The new government will have a severe problem. The Colombian government lost $500 million last year because the pipeline was being blown up. Its been blown up 900 times. The issue isnt helping a particular oil company, but the environmental and economic impact on Colombia. To better allow it to protect that pipeline that source because this particular issue I can.. Whether talk about displaced or social always comes to lack of security.
When talk with always faced with why are thy not able to provide security. One year ago clearly security problem in Arauca began in first 180km whats becoming significant problem blown up 107 times last year. Virtually 200% increase. Last year Colombian government lost $500 million cause didnt pipe oil over 200 days. FARC/ELN money going into their pocket matter of economics. Like coca funding terrorist orginazations, this was funding. Helping secure (economic means) necessary to their economy to their government who could hopefully help to provide sec why looking at this particular area. Not helping part oil company or pipeline more impact on economy and people in Arauca and particularly environmental why thought area could help Col in area needed help from mil.
Staff 2: Oil isnt why we are interested in Colombia. It has flaws but is a democracy. Its a state under siege. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have felt the negative impact on the U.S. Oil isnt part of the equation
of why we support Colombia. Our reason is to support the rule of law, support human rights, support the needy, to help foreign investors to come in and generate jobs, to combat the narcotics trade which is one of
the reasons Colombia is in its current mess, and to prevent the flow of narcotics into the U.S.
If more broadly the question was whether the US is interested in Colombia because of oil: That is not why. Were interested in defending democracy. Colombia has been a democracy, except during a small interlude 50 years ago. While it is certainly not without flaws, it is a democracy under siege...(by drug traffickers).
I myself have felt tragic destruction in my immediate family, and if Colombia were to fall into chaos based on deprivations by armed groups, there would be tremendous effects on America. And if Colombia were to lose its democratic tradition, that also would have a negative effect. In a general sense that would answer your question.
Q: So there are no other factors in Andean region, besides the oil?
A: We were saying (oil) is not really a factor in our desire to help Colombia. The reasons why we help Colombia is to preserve a flawed but still democratic system, to promote rule of law, to strengthen human rights, to help government with needs of very needy, to provide stability for investors to come into Colombia to generate the jobs and to combat the narcotics trade which has extremely pernicious impact on Colombia. It is one of the reasons Colombia is in the mess it is in now. And also to control the supply of narcotics going into the US. I would say it is those goals that motivated the US goals. The reason we assist Colombian pipeline is not for oil companies: it is to protect important resource for Colombian government.
Ryan: WFP recently put out a report on Colombian pipeline and would love to hear a response.
Staff 2: There is a responsive draft.
Q: To Clarify before I state my question, we do stand against all illegal armed actors, but this question is specific to the paramilitaries. In light of the role of the paras, and in light of human rights organizations which attributed 80% of all human rights abuses to them, how will the government prevent the (spy program) from being a vehicle to legitimize, legalize paramilitaries. How will the embassy pressure the Uribe government to go after the paramilitaries?
Staff 4: I think Uribe and Pastrana both recognize the danger of the paras. Pastrana has been effective in cutting the number of human rights violations by the military. They recognize that they have to show that their institutions respect human rights. Uribe government recognizes the importance of international assistance. We think he will respect human rights. Well see. We think the Uribe (Administration), like the Pastrana, is very aware of human rights.
One achievement of Pastrana -- not one recognized by Colombians because they are so disappointed that he was not able to achieve peace -- is how far he got toward achieving accountability of the armed forces. If you look at the amount of human rights abuses they commit (what is it, 2% ), it represents a significant achievement of Pastrana. Because he realized he had to try to the extent possible that Colombian institutions respect human rights. The Uribe government is equally aware of that, and Uribe realizes that ---(aid from the US is important) but has made it very clear to us and others that he attaches great (importance) to human rights.
Q: Specifically addressing the million informants: maybe you could just address this a little bit.
Staff 4: Waiting to see how it transpires, mechanisms for accountability. US government have emphasized that it has to be accountable, transparent, has to promote respect for human rights. Its still very very early to see how this is going to be structures
Staff 3: You cant replace your military overnight. Theyll try to do different ideas, how to address security. Genesis of problem: lack of security. We recognize they can't get from here to there by just (over?) throwing security forces overnight. Wont happen, impossible. They are looking to address the human rights concerns, whether national guard, neighborhood watch, because security forces. Even if had money couldnt grow enough to reach all these security forces.
Q: Understand mayors under threat we also met with some, want to know how working to support the mayors.
Staff 2: USAID is involved in that. Recent supplemental appropriation contains money to protect mayors, personeros, etc. especially in outlying areas. Weve met 15 mayors in Cauca who resigned. For me it was a fact-finding trip. You dont want to have to protect every mayor. There isnt enough money in the pot. The same thing that causes other problems also causes this problem, i.e. lack of security. Thats long term. In short term, we are setting up protection programs.
Recently there has been added to that program supplemental over $1 million dollars to start a program for protection of human rights ombudsman and counselmen, encourage specifically to provide protection for the mayors. FARC has actually killed mayors in outlying area. Perhaps ref to discussions, I along with a colleague went to Cauca under threat --all had resigned based on threat.
Really a fact finding threat. What the reaction of constituents was. Shared with embassy, shared with the --. Besides the projection program. Want to be able to do job without fear for lives. Not money for armored cars, have to look ultimately to what the solution to Colombian problems is. What it is is what creates lack of security. Not because their constituents continue -- want to remain cause fear for lives impossible for government to sufficiently protect if FARC wants to kill, may be able to. Need to establish enough legitimate security, police, if necessary military to allow Colombians to do jobs. In meantime protection program.
Q: From your perspective, I was wondering if youd be able to define terrorism.
Staff 4: The willingness to harm civilians to make a point. Only a small portion of that Saturday bomb went off. Yesterday there were 180 mortars, of which only 14 went off. If all had gone off, much more damage would have been done. Wont pretend to even be able to get good definition to satisfy terrorism. Id personally use bodily harm, murder of innocent civilians, to promote a narrow agenda/an agenda/ or (criminal goal). Think you can find an official definition on the FBI website.
All FARC and paramilitaries kill people who are noncombatants they displace people they kill people.
Staff 5: You cant be here, you cant be us, and not suffer as the Colombians suffer. (A) bomb went off 5 blocks away. (When I drive home from the grocery) car thoroughly searched before go in.
Staff 4: A bomb is a classic example. Only a small portion of it went off. Anyone walking in whole block would have been damaged. Mortars. 180 mortars of which 14 went off, which killed 14 and injured 61. Going into a small town and assassinating. I hear of terrible things -- slitting someone down the stomach...
Ryan: Would the bombing of the community of Santo Domingo by Colombian air force be a terrorist act? (Santa Domingo bomb.)
A: If deliberate decision, premeditated to drop bomb on innocent civilians, I dont know if it would be terrorism but it would be criminal, yes.
Q: Of Plan Colombia money: How much remained in US through equipment/training and who made those decisions and how much being spent here internally.
Staff 3: Dont have exact stat. About $70 million of this year is roughly spent for helicopter program. But helicopters were mostly purchased in previous years. Helicopters for the counter drug brigade initially 1 1/2 yrs ago purchasing equipment to provide to military. Now about 70% is spent on training, repairing, and fueling that equipment, mostly on training. 70% (is spent to) sustain equipment. Purchasing replacement, purchasing fuel, sending pilots to US in some cases, train most in Colombia. Most money is now training or support of training.
Q: Uribe mentioned some things he wants to do. Read recent recommendation of Human Rights Commission have not significantly changed the Colombian governments behavior: How does the state department view the decision to disband the ombudsman especially in Barranca (where) people (are) worried (human rights will continue to) get worse?
Staff 4: Were waiting to see what Uribes plans really are. There have been a lot of things proposed. A better way to look at it is to see whether the governments ability to promote those protections can be equally served by a different institutional mix. We would support strongly the necessity for human rights. Weve strongly supported the Human Rights Ombudsmans Office and the Attorney Generals Human Rights Office. And were looking into expanding support for the Procuraduría. Well cross the bridge when we come to it.
Basically wait to see Uribes proposals, etc., and as result of wait and see mode havent come to any decisions that I can talk about. Better way is to look at it functionally. Whether the governments ability to promote the kind of services if they are changed whether they can be equally serviced by different institutional mixed Colombian governments decision: if combine labor and ---? Uribe got a massive mandate.
Q: Dont you think that the US highly invested with tax money should promote (human rights) actively?
A: Think want to support have been very supportive of human rights ombudsmans office. Just like several programs support Attorney Generals office ability to prosecute just like look at support basic admin arm that sanctions government officials. Only point is effectiveness of governments commitment to promote human rights as opposed to actual institutional mech. But dont want to say --- cross that bridge when come to it. Materials prepared by public affairs section here if we would like it topick it up.
Comment from Staff 3: [Regarding the protection of the Caño Limon pipeline] Were concentrating on the first 180 miles because thats where most attacks are.