HUMAN TRAFFICKING NGO A.M.B.A.R. - PROGRESS REPORT

Identifier: 
06CARACAS2165

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 CARACAS 002165

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NSC FOR DFISK AND DTOMLINSON
DEPT PASS TO G/TIP AETERNO AND LBROWN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/10/2031
TAGS: ELAB, KCRM, KDEM, KWMN, PGOV, PHUM, SCUL, SNAR, VE
SUBJECT: HUMAN TRAFFICKING NGO A.M.B.A.R. - PROGRESS REPORT

REF: CARACAS 00880

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Classified By: Robert Downes, Political Counselor,
for Reason 1.4(b).

1. (C) Summary. Poloffs visited the Women's Association for
Well-Being and Reciprocal Assistance (A.M.B.A.R.), a
recipient of an Economic Support Fund (ESF) Grant approved by
the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
(G/TIP). (reftel) Highlights of its volunteered three-month
progress report are included below, as well as poloffs'
observations and favorable impressions of this
organization,s progress. However, while A.M.B.A.R. is
succeeding in spite of numerous obstacles, the upcoming
closure of the Ministry of Interior and Justice's (MIJ) Crime
Prevention Unit and the assumption of its duties by CICPC
(criminal investigation police) will make life even more
difficult for this NGO in a country that still does not view
trafficking in persons (TIP) as a serious problem. End
Summary.

2. (U) Background. Poloffs on July 17 received a tour of TIP
NGO A.M.B.A.R., an anti-TIP organization that provides
trafficking victims with assistance ranging from food and
shelter to psychological counseling and legal aid. Poloffs
visited A.M.B.A.R. facilities and met with Director Nury
Pernia to discuss developments in the past three months. As
background, Ms. Pernia explained that the trafficking problem
in Venezuela centers on its role as a transit country. Women
from Colombia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and others
arrive in Venezuela en route to Caribbean resort countries
(Aruba, Curacao, etc.), as well as to Germany and other
European countries. The process of repatriating
non-Venezuelan nationals occurs after rescue with the
assistance of CICPC. The center primarily focuses its rescue
efforts in the neighborhood of Chacao, where much of the
city,s prostitution occurs. In addition to rehabilitating
and training victims, 87 dependent children currently take
part in the center,s daycare and preschool program.

3. (SBU) A House and a Home. A House and a Home, the project
for which the ESF grant is devoted, is in full swing. The
first of two payments totaling $129,375 was dispersed on
March 31; the second will occur in September after receipt of
financial and progress reports. (reftel) As part of its
rehabilitation efforts for victims of trafficking, the
project provides medical and legal services, counseling, and
professional training. Since the Embassy's last visit, the
center has increased the number of computers to six, and
A.M.B.A.R. beneficiaries can receive regular instruction on
their use. As part of the effort to provide these women with
a source of income, they paint ceramics, design and make
jewelry and even have their own small-scale beauty parlor.
Ms. Pernia reports that they intend to distribute the revenue
from these ventures among all participants. Additional
improvements noted include: the creation of a full medical
consultation room, including a curtained-off examination
portion as well as a sit-down consultation area to be used
for sessions with psychologists. The main office has new
tile flooring, and furniture that was previously torn has
either been replaced or refurbished. The third
floor/enclosed roof is nearing completion for use as a
playground for toddlers.

4. (U) A.M.B.A.R. Report Highlights (full report available
upon request):

-- Successful initiation of psychological and legal services,
including: contracting of psychologists and lawyers to

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provide daily services, designation of consultation space and
the purchase and installation of equipment. Sample of
psychological services areas: child abuse, drug abuse, gender
violence, family issues and truancy. Sample legal service
areas: physical abuse, government benefits and child support.

-- Implementation of rehabilitation program for adolescents,
focusing on reintegration with their families. Areas of
focus include: self-esteem programs, reproductive health and
STD prevention, computer classes and workshops on
self-improvement.

-- Implementation of work training program for the purpose of
instilling in adolescents an interest in education.
Workshops include: computing, handicrafts, ceramics and
hairstyling.

-- Improvements to mother/child program, focusing on the
strengthening of mother/child relationships. Funding has
been used to hire employees, improve designated space, buy
equipment, provide employee training, pediatric visits and
food for the children.

-- Of the $129,000 grant, A.M.B.A.R. has designated the use
of about $65,000 (but not yet spent), has spent about $24,000
and is developing plans for the remaining $40,000.

5. (U) Plans for the Future. A.M.B.A.R. has recently
expanded its operations to a center in the 23 de Enero
neighborhood which will provide services directed towards
prevention efforts (trafficking, H.I.V., and domestic abuse),
as well as victimizer rehabilitation services. Planned for
early 2007, A.M.B.A.R. intends to write and present to the
BRV its own TIP report, a worthwhile and certainly ambitious
endeavor. Ms. Pernia also plans to submit monthly reports to
the Embassy, above and beyond the two requested in the terms
of the grant.

6. (C) BRV Support and the Lack Thereof. Of particular note
and concern to both A.M.B.A.R. and poloffs is news of the
dissolution of the MIJ's Crime Prevention Unit and the
transfer of its trafficking prevention and prosecution duties
to CICPC. The director of the Crime Prevention Unit, Lilian
Aya Ramirez, had been a great ally of the center and was
influential in helping A.M.B.A.R. secure a 20-year lease in
an MIJ building for its expanded operations. The
disappearance of that office means an even weaker tie between
NGOs such as A.M.B.A.R. and the BRV, making requests for
government support even more difficult. At the time of
poloffs, visit, the children were busy opening toys donated
by the Ministry of Domestic Affairs in recognition of
Children,s Day (July 16). However, contrary to hopes
expressed in reftel comment, BRV involvement is not a common
occurrence. As noted in this year's TIP Report and in
government responses to same, the BRV does not find
trafficking of persons or prostitution to be a real or
serious problem in Venezuela. Ms. Pernia reported that in
the past year, there resulted only one arrest out of 29 cases
investigated. As far as funding, A.M.B.A.R. frequently runs
into roadblocks in its efforts to engage official support.

7. (C) Comment. While the official six-month progress report
is not due until the end of September, this interim report
and observations from poloffs' site-visit demonstrate that
A.M.B.A.R. has made great strides in its 12-year existence to
provide a much-needed service to trafficking and prostitution
victims. The center appears to be in extremely capable
hands, and its resources appear to be very well-managed.
However, the impending disappearance of the Crime Prevention

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Unit means that ostensibly, there is no office in the BRV
that has trafficking in persons as its primary focus. The
director of that unit was perhaps the only ally that
A.M.B.A.R. had within the BRV, and her departure will
undoubtedly not only make life more difficult for this NGO
but will also seriously hamper any trafficking prevention and
prosecution efforts in Venezuela. Emboffs will follow up on
developments in this area, given that the BRV's indignation
over Venezuela's Tier 3 status makes the upcoming closure of
the Crime Prevention Unit rather puzzling.

BROWNFIELD