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March 2009

March 4, 2009

EDITORIAL - Obama Should Press for Colombia Free-trade Pact

EDITORIAL - Obama Should Press for Colombia Free-trade Pact

The deal has languished in Congress.  Under Obama's trade agenda, it has a future. President Obama's trade agenda is nothing if not ambitious. His just-released policy statement, titled "Making Trade Work for American Families," ties trade to energy efficiency and environmental concerns, entrepreneurship and market competition, workers' rights and global competitiveness. Of course, it remains to be seen how all of these interests will fit into one coherent policy.

To be fair, presidents' annual trade statements are typically broad on goals and sketchy on specifics, and in this respect Obama's is no different from those of his predecessors. But the global economic crisis gives his agenda a certain urgency. Businesses, labor organizations and our trading partners around the world are waiting for a strong, clear position on trade from the president, who says he supports free trade but also has quibbles with the North American Free Trade Agreement. Obama could clarify his position and ameliorate fears of renewed protectionism by pressing for quick approval of the long-stalled free-trade pact with Colombia.
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March 13, 2009

Colombia among the top ten most eco-friendly nations in the world

Colombia among the top ten most eco-friendly nations in the world

Based on Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) for 2008, which measures factors such as a country’s environmental health, air pollution, water resources and productive natural resources, Colombia has made it among the top ten most eco-friendly nations in the world.

Beating green countries like Costa Rica, Colombia is home to 10% of the world’s species, with a wealth of ecological diversity. While Colombia has had problems in the past concerning deforestation, the detrimental effects of the coca trade, and political strife involving their natural oil deposits, all these factors have helped to move Colombia towards energy conservation and new, less politically tumultuous resources. Colombia has also begun programs for the cultivation of natural parks that support the growth of native medicinal plants. The Orito Igni-Ande Medicinal Flora Sanctuary is a 10,626 hectare preserve that may just show that Colombia is on the right track.

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March 16, 2009

Australia Growing Trade Links with Colombia

Australia Growing Trade Links with Colombia

The Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean will hold talks this week with the Colombian Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, Mr Luis Guillermo Plata, to further strengthen ties between Australia and Colombia.There are growing trade and investment links with Colombia and the two ministers will hold discussions on Monday, 16 March, at Parliament House in Canberra
"I look forward to discussing with Mr. Plata a range of trade issues, including how we can build bilateral trading links and coordinate our efforts to reduce the barriers to trade," he said. Mr Crean said Colombia had been pursuing an energetic domestic reform agenda which had resulted in a significant improvement in economic conditions in the country and had helped Colombia achieve good growth figures over recent years. According to the International Monetary Fund, GDP growth in Colombia was 4 per cent in 2008 and the Colombian economy should continue to expand in 2009, despite the worldwide downturn.

"The prudent fiscal policies and structural reforms being undertaken by President Uribe's government have resulted in a strengthening of public finances, a steady decline in unemployment, increasing household consumption, and growing business confidence.
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March 16, 2009

Colombian migrants have a new website with helpful services

Colombian migrants have a new website with helpful services

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

The new web site launched by www.redescolombia.org aims to offer Colombians living abroad, access to issues related to health and pension contributions, education abroad, health programs, entrepreneurship, remittances , house purchase,  tourism and everything related to local festivities in the country.

Users will also be able to access information on vocational training courses offered by SENA and necessary procedures on how to create a business.
Spanish Text
La nueva página de servicios para migrantes lanzada por www.redescolombia.org ofrece mltiples posibilidades a los colombianos residentes en el exterior, quienes podrán tener acceso a temas sobre aportes de salud y pensión; educación en el exterior; programas de salud; emprendimiento; remesas; adquisición de vivienda; turismo y todo lo relacionado con las ferias del país.

Los usuarios tambin podrán obtener información sobre los cursos de formación profesional que ofrece el SENA o sobre  cómo crear empresa  en el país?, segn las directrices del Ministerio de Comercio, Industria y Turismo.

Por otro lado, los colombianos migrantes podrán acceder a la oferta de becas y crditos que tienen diferentes entidades para estudios en el exterior como el ICETEX, COLCIENCIAS, UNAD, COLFUTURO entre otros, así como los mecanismos establecidos por estas entidades para acceder a ellos. Además, en esta página encontrarán las formas para adquirir vivienda en el país, a travs de la oferta de crditos y el acceso a este tipo de inversión desde el exterior. Conozca la oferta y el mecanismo que tiene el Gobierno colombiano disponible, en alianza con el sector privado para hacerlo.
Así mismo, tendrán la posibilidad deconocer cómo efectuar un aporte mensual, para obtener la prestación pensional,a travs de mecanismos como el Programa Colombiano Seguro en el Exterior, que ofrece la posibilidad a todos los colombianos residentes en el exterior de afiliarse y realizar aportes al Sistema General de Pensiones o continuar con los aportes que en algn momento efectuaron en Colombia.
A travs de la página de servicios,los colombianos en el exterior podrán enterarse y participar de las fiestas y celebraciones autóctonas del país y podrán disfrutar de las muestras culturalesde las regiones del país para todo el ao 2009, como el Carnaval de Blancos y Negros, Feria de Cali, Carnaval de Barranquilla, Feria de las Flores, entre otras.
Para más información, visite http://www.redescolombia.org/Servicios/tabid/253/Default.aspx
 

March 17, 2009

Defense chief defends 'Plan Colombia'

Defense chief defends 'Plan Colombia'

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Colombia's defense minister on Monday decried controversial statements by the country's vice president calling for an end to Plan Colombia, Washington's multi-billion-dollar anti-drug program. "Plan Colombia is fundamental to our fight against terrorism and drug trafficking and has to continue," said Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, who told the El Tiempo newspaper that aid and logistical support provided by Washington to combat drug traffickers "is welcome."
Plan Colombia has long been the central plank of Washington's fight against drugs in Latin America and has become the linch pin of US-Colombian ties, the closest alliance that the United States has in the hemisphere. Nonetheless, in an interview published Sunday in local daily El Tiempo, Vice President Francisco Santos said Washington's military-focused anti-drug plan had outlived its usefulness.
"Plan Colombia has achieved its purpose. It is nolonger necessary," Santos said, in controversial remarks that have sparked a firestorm here.
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March 17, 2009

Mamos fron the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta joined Wade Davis at the National Geographic Theater

Mamos fron the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta joined Wade Davis at the National Geographic Theater

Mamos from the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta joined National Geographic's Explorer in Residence, Wade Davis for the screening of Ancient Voices/Modern World.  In this documentary Wade Davis makes a remarkable journey
into the heart of war-torn Colombia to visit one of the indigenous
groups that call themselves the Elder Brother. These extraordinary
people claim to be the last descendants of a once-great civilization,
the Tairona, and to speak with their voice. Could they really be the
last window we have on the great high civilizations of the ancient
Americas?  Wade’s journey to find out takes him from the tropical
plains of northern Colombia to the frozen peaks of the Sierra Nevada de
Santa Marta and a chilling close encounter with the FARC, the terrorist
guerrilla Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Hosted by Wade Davis. Produced by National Geographic Television.  After the screening there was a roundtable where the Mamos further explained the implications of Wade Davis footage and their message from the heart of the world ad the called their native land.  

To learn more from the Mamos please visit www.corazondelmundo.org
For more information on screenings please visit the DC Environmental Film Festival

 

March 24, 2009

'Paciencia' y 'no ser tremendistas' al mirar las relaciones con Estados Unidos, pide Carolina Barco

'Paciencia' y 'no ser tremendistas' al mirar las relaciones con Estados Unidos, pide Carolina Barco

EL TIEMPO, Sergio Gómez Maseri - La Embajadora de Colombia en ese país, en entrevista con EL TIEMPO, deja claro que la cooperación seguirá aunque tenga un rostro distinto y confirma que habrá 'nacionalización' del Plan Colombia.
 
"La relación sigue intacta, es muy fuerte, es de Estado y viene desde hace aos. Lo que estamos viendo ahora es la transición hacia un nuevo gobierno, pero en el cual yo no veo mayores cambios. Habrá que hacer ajustes, pues nos estamos apenas acercando, pero dentro de un marco de total confianza", dice Barco.

Y agrega: "Prueba de ello son las llamadas que se han dado entre Obama y Uribe, donde ha reconocido los avances. Nos estamos recibiendo al más alto nivel. La semana pasada fui la primera diplomática latinoamericana que se reunió con el nuevo asesor de seguridad de Obama para la región, Dan Restrepo. Veo la misma disposición ha seguir trabajando, pero los equipos apenas se están terminando de conformar. Me parece que en Colombia estamos haciendo una lectura demasiado tremendista de las cosas".
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March 25, 2009

A Tribute to the Medellín Flower Fair in Philadelphia

A Tribute to the Medellín Flower Fair in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia based United Latin Congress Organization offered a memorable tribute to the Medellín Flower Fair.

The event, called A Night in Medellín, was attended by five silleteros who came exclusively from the village of Santa Elena to attend. They took this opportunity to create ten outstanding silletas that adorned the main hall of the Sheraton Hotel.  The silleteros used hundreds of multicolor  roses and carnations to make their floral creations.  The attendees were delighted with the beauty, quality and, above all, creativity of these expert artists in working with flowers.

The Latin American Dance and Culture Corporation, the entity with which the Colombian Consulate in New York has coordinated the parade of the silleteros in Manhattan, was responsible for organizing the gala evening where American entrepreneurs and businessmen honored Colombia.

The New York Consul General, Francisco Rocha-Noguera, expressed his satisfaction with the event and tribute offered by the community of Philadelphia  to the Antioquia silleteros.  

 

March 26, 2009

LA TIMES - Medellin Cleans Up Its Act

LA TIMES - Medellin Cleans Up Its Act

 

 
Chris Kraul - The Colombian city's homicide rate is down 90%, fighters are being re-integrated into society and the sewer system -- which left the river district an open cesspool -- is being revamped.
Once the shadowy and violent domain of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, Medellin has undergone a renaissance over the last decade due to enlightened civic policy and public works, offering government officials proof that urban decline can be reversed. Once one of the world's deadliest cities, Medellin's homicide rate has dropped by more than 90% since the mid-1990s. Former rebels and paramilitary fighters are being re-integrated into Colombia's second-largest city in an innovative program adopted by the nation's demobilization director. The urban transit system has been upgraded to include a spectacular tramway that has cut commutes and become the city's icon.

And then there's the new sewage system, which has cleaned up the formerly malodorous Medellin River and 24 creeks and greatly improved the city's image -- and smell. The project has become a regional model for cleanup projects in densely populated areas.

The system, which includes educating residents and businesses near the river on how to prevent pollution, has converted the river district from an open cesspool to a zone where corporations such as Bancolombia and Carrefour have built major facilities.  

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March 26, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE - The Pride of Colombia

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE - The Pride of Colombia

Henry Schulman - Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria watched the World Baseball Classic a little ticked off.
 
You could guess what he was thinking: "South Africa? Italy? Are you kidding me? What about Colombia, a real baseball country? "That's why I get mad," Renteria said, "because I think we're ready for the world cup. I get mad at Major League Baseball because they look at Colombia and think we don't have a good team. I think we have a better team than somebody else."

Renteria's nationalism is understandable. The Giants' newest offensive addition, who signed a much-criticized two-year, $18.5 million contract, is not merely one of the few major leaguers from Colombia. He is one of the sport's biggest promoters and teachers in his South American homeland.

 

 
 
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March 26, 2009

Medellín showcases its turnaround for members of the IDB Board of Directors

Medellín showcases its turnaround for members of the IDB Board of Directors

 
 
Members of the Board of Executive Directors of the Inter-American Development Bank visited Wednesady landmarks of Medellín to learn how Colombia’s industrial capital is leading a successful urban, economic and social transformation. Medellín is the site of the IDB’s 50th anniversary Annual Meeting.

The IDB directors took the city’s metro and cable cars over neighborhoods once devastated by drug violence to see how Medellín is becoming an example for other Latin American and Caribbean cities fighting poverty and crime. In their journey, accompanied by the Mayor of Medellín Alonso Salazar and other city leaders, the directors attended a practice session of the youth orchestra of Santo Domingo, one of many innovative youth programs in the city. The directors also attended a ceremony at the headquarters of Empresas Publicas de Medellín (EPM), one of Latin America’s leading municipal public utility companies, for the signing of a $450 million IDB loan for a project to turn the Medellín River into one of the cleanest waterways flowing through a major Latin American city.

 

 

 

 

 
EPM provides potable water, sewer, power, gas and telephone services to around three million people. The company already supplies water and sewage collection services to nearly all the population in its service area.
Over the past two decades EPM has built infrastructure to treat sewage and wastewater discharged into the Medellín River. The new loan, the largest one ever approved by the IDB for wastewater treatment, will help Medellín become one of the first major regional cities to adequately treat nearly 100 percent of the wastewater it collects.

 
A previous $130 million IDB loan helped EPM complete the first phase of this program with the construction of the San Fernando Wastewater Treatment Plant near the southern end of the Aburra Valley, home to the 10 municipalities that make up the Medellín metropolitan region.
The new loan will help finance the construction of a second, much larger wastewater treatment plant at the northern end of the Aburra Valley. When this plant is completed in 2012, the city will be treating close to 95 percent of all the wastewater flowing into the Medellín River.

The IDB has been a partner of Colombia in the development of efficient public utilities with strong private-sector participation. EPM received the first IDB loan to Colombia in April 1961.
To learn more from this event, please click here.
 

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March 13, 2009

FOREIGN POLICY - Memo to Iraq, from Colombia

FOREIGN POLICY - Memo to Iraq, from Colombia

 
By Elizabeth Dickinson - Earlier this month, the New York Times reported on an eccentric Italian traveler, Luca Marchio, who had wandered into Falluja and boldly, unselfconsciously, declared himself a "tourist" in what remains one of the most dangerous countries on Earth. Nervous Iraqi authorities swiftly escorted him to a safer locale before packing him on the next flight out.
"He is a little bit naive," an Italian Embassy official told the Times. But maybe Marchio was just ahead of the curve.
"The authorities explained to me that it was impossible because there are not any hotels here. They suggested a short tour and then go back to Baghdad," he said. "I am looking forward to visiting all the beautiful places around Iraq, but I think not yet," the embassy official added.

 
Iraq's tourist infrastructure, set back thanks to the war of the past six years and decades of neglect before then, is today in shambles. "We see it everyday: There are just a handful of places where you can do events," says the U.S. military's Cmdr. Gerard Shanley, who is a senior liaison to the Ministry of State for Tourism and Antiquities. "The economy is continuing to expand while security improves. But Iraq is in need of hotel space, catering space."

 
Indeed, when a recent delegation of 200 foreign investors traveled to Najaf as part of World Tourism Week, they were disappointed to learn that there were not enough hotel beds to lodge them. Instead, the investors would have to go spend the two nights in Karbala, commuting back to Najaf for their visit.
Read Article
 

March 9, 2009

REUTERS - Colombian singer Fonseca takes road less traveled

REUTERS - Colombian singer Fonseca takes road less traveled

 
 
By Leila Cobo MIAMI - Touring in the United States has always been a challenge for developing Latin pop acts, who suffer from a scarcity of Latin pop radio stations in many cities and a lack of tour support from their labels. This makes the recently announced tour by Colombian tropical/pop singer-songwriter Fonseca all the more remarkable. Fonseca will take his Gratitour (derived from the title of his 2008 album, "Gratitud") to 12 U.S. cities, expanding from his 2007 tour, when he played eight shows.
But back then, Fonseca was riding high on the success of his international hit "Te Mando Flores," which spent 22 weeks on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart, peaking at No. 8. His 2006 debut album, "Corazon" (EMI Latin), has sold 44,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
By contrast, his follow-up, "Gratitud," has received radio support (the single "Arroyito" spent 20 weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 22), but the album has sold only 12,000 copies stateside.

 

 

 

 
 
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March 2, 2009

President lvaro Uribe Vlez announced this morning after meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jaime Bermudez, and Minister of Defense, Juan Manual Santos, that the result of their official visit to the United States to  meet with policy makers, congress representatives and members of the Obama administration proved very convenient and positive to Colombia to continue strengthening bilateral relations between both countiries.

Too see the gallery of the visit please click here.

March 10, 2009

 

The President and the Government of Colombia received a high grade for the work done in the field of Human Rights and security, during a speech made by parliamentarian Mark Pritchard, at the Common Chamber.  I have to admit that Human Rights and security conditions have improved owing to President Uribe’s effort, who has been constructing a secure environment, needed by the country, said the parliamentarian.This presentation was held at United Kindom and Latin America Relations debate organized by the Labour Parliamentarian, Jeremy Corbyn. At the debate was also the State Subsecretary for Latin America, Mrs Gillian Merron.

About a month ago, at the Lords Chamber, parliamentarian Lord JD Waverley made a presentation and highlighted President Uribe’s work fighting drug trafficking and protecting security. The speech was given at a debate to evaluate the world drug problem.  

March 10, 2009
President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe Velez, called for  national and international cooperation to fight criminal drug trafficking bands, after a Security Council to evaluate this issue at the Casa de Nario.
At a local level, he asked for the cooperation of guarantee judges, and the coordination between military, police authorities and justice representatives. He announced that Vice Minister of Justice, Miguel Ceballos, Vice Minister of Defense, Sergio Jaramillo, Director of Military Intelligence, Vice Admiral Alvaro Echandía Durán (as delegate of the Minister of Defense) and Police Commander, General Oscar Naranjo, are going to meet with the Judgeship Council to explore better coordination with judges that will contribute to capture all members of  illegal groups.
 To get the most efficient cooperation to totally deactivate this bands, the President asked for meetings of the army, the police, judges and prosecutors in each city.  He also highlighted that some people of this groups are hiding in other countries, including some guerrilla leaders . That is why the country is asking for international cooperation to look for the way to capture all this criminals.

Colombia needs the support of all our citizens and the international community to overcome this terrible suffering of narco-terrorism, " said the President.
 

March 13, 2009

 

 

Colombian exports recorded a 25.5% growth  in 2008, one of the highest rates in comparison with other Latin American countries. Total sales for the year accounted for US$ 37,626 millions.  This result was despite the complex global economic environment in the second half of 2008. The figures were above sales growth of Brazil (19.3%), Peru (13%), Mexico (3.5%) and Chile (0.2%).

According to Minister Plata, the behavior of the exchange rate was an event that affected the outcome of 2008. "The depreciation of the exchange rate eased to some extent the earnings of exporters. In the second half, the average exchange rate was 14% higher than the one recorded in the first half, "he said.  The declining trend in exports, at the end of the year is explained by the slowdown in external demand and declining international prices of primary products. However, the minister said, the export sector benefited from greater currency devaluation, in the second half of 2008.
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Despite the slower pace of growth in the U.S. economy in 2008 exports to this market grew 35.5% over the previous year, primarily because of oil exports. Minister Plata also considered important to this result Colombia’s exports to Venezuela.  Figures increased by 16.9%,despite being slowed in comparison to 2007, when it had increased by 92.9%. Likewise, Plata noted that economic activity in the euro zone grew by 1 percent in 2008, while Colombian  sales to that destination  rose by 9.3%  and had an overall participation of total exports of 12.7%.

The low economic growth and the global crisis originated in the second half of 2008 a reduction in raw material prices, which for the case of Colombia was in the price of oil, coal, coffee and nickel.

Referring to the favorable changes in exports by technological intensity, the Minister recalled that last year, sales of primary goods increased 45.1%, well above the rate of change in 2007 (21.2% ). This increase was due to sales of products such as oil, coal, coffee and bananas. Exports of high technology products grew by  32.8 %, highlighting aircraft parts such as propellers and landing gear, electrical batteries, electrical transformers,vaccines and surgical sutures.

Prospects for 2009

Although the economic prospect worldwide for 2009 isn’t  a more dynamic market, the Minister is confident that Colombian exports will continue to grow moderately. However, he said, it’s important to take into account what will happen in theexternal environment. For example, minor variations in global demand and  GDP decrease in major developed economies. TheIMF projected a negative rate of economic activity in the United States (1.6 %)and the European Union (2%).

For their part, international estimates (Latin Forecast January 2009), project a growth of 0.6 percent in Venezuela.  These three regions were the target of 66 percent of Colombian exports in 2008.  According to the Director of the World Trade Organization, trade flows are not unrelated to what happens in the global context, hence the reduction in demand and financial difficulties will lead to a global trade contraction.

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March 16, 2009

Due to recent declarations of the Vice President of Colombia, Francisco Santos, the Minister of Foreign Affairs ratifies the importance of continuing with Plan Colombia as a necessary mean to consolidate the progress achieved in fighting narcotrafficking and terrorism. 

March 27, 2009

The Government of Colombia, through the Ministry of Interior and Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, states:

1. The extradition cooperation policy  between the United States and Colombia remains steady. It is an effective mechanism which will continue to be used in the fight against organized crime, drug trafficking and terrorism.

2. The Colombian Government has expressed to the United States Government, through its ambassador in Bogota, the considerations made by the Honorable Supreme Court on the issue of extradition in recent cases. These considerations will be taken into account in the future, respecting the established rules for these procedures.

 

El Gobierno Nacional, en cabeza del Ministerio del Interior y de Justicia y del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, se permite comunicar:

1.     La política de cooperación entre los Estados Unidos y Colombia en cuanto a la extradición se mantiene incólume. Se trata de un mecanismo eficaz al cual se seguirá recurriendo en la lucha contra el crimen organizado, el narcotráfico y el terrorismo.

2.     El Gobierno de Colombia ha transmitido al Gobierno de los Estados Unidos, a travs de su embajador en Bogotá, las consideraciones hechas por la Honorable Corte Suprema de Justicia, con respecto al tema de la extradición en los casos recientes. Estas consideraciones serán tenidas en cuenta en el futuro, respetando las instancias previstas para estos procedimientos.  

March 3, 2009

El Consulado Móvil estará en Salt Lake (Utah) el día sábado 7 de marzo

El Consulado Móvil estará en Salt Lake (Utah) el día sábado 7 de marzo

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

Siguiendo las directrices de la Cancillería y con el ánimo de mejorar el acceso a los servicio consulares que ofrecen las misiones de Colombia en Estados Unidos. El Consulado de Colombia en San Francisco estará llevando el Consulado Móvil a la ciudad de Salt Lake(Utah) el día sábado 7 de marzo de 2009.
Paramayor información por favor ingrese a la página del Consulado en San Francisco www.consuladocolombiasf.com

March 2, 2009

Speech of VP Santos - Launching of the Second Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention

Speech of VP Santos - Launching of the Second Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention

For Colombia, it is an honor to participate in this celebration. Colombia submitted its candidacy as host of the Second Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention to show the world the devastating effects of antipersonnel mines in our country and our unyielding commitment to the total eradication of these artifacts. With this, we seek to prevent the threat to more affected communities and to create conscience about the necessary attention to victims of the deplorable and terrorist actions of the illegal armed groups, as they are responsible for sowing our country with these weapons.  
We hope this summit in Cartagena de Indias will be an opportunity to renew, strengthen, and expand the commitments and the purpose of nations, international organizations and civil society to finally eradicate this scourge. An open and transparent opportunity to  evaluate the achievements after 10 years of hard work, and to accept mistakes and failures as the only way to correct and right our course. A sincere and frank opportunity to condemn, without hesitation, without any type of consideration or justification, and without any permissive or tolerant positions, the terrorist groups that utilize landmines as part of their destructive tactics, which affect freedom of movement and the lives of the most vulnerable populations, not only in our country but in other countries as well.  
Read the full speech

March 3, 2009

TIME - Loving My Time in Cartagena

TIME - Loving My Time in Cartagena

 

By Jay Newton-Small - "Why are you risking your life for a vacation?" a close friend gasped, aghast when I told her I planned to spend my post-election holiday in Cartagena, Colombia. In fact, few of my friends seemed to think it was a good idea: I couldn't convince any of them to share my rental house in the city's walled Old Town. If they had heard of Cartagena at all, it was only as the backdrop of the classic 1980s romantic caper Romancing the Stone, a place of corrupt juntas and bodice-ripper-reading drug dealers a parody turned deadly serious by four decades of civil war, Pablo Escobar and the cocaine cartels. But what my friends who spent their vacations standing in line at Space Mountain or screaming down the Atlantis water slide failed to realize is that Cartagena has become one of the Caribbean's most charming hidden gems.

 
Though it is overtly Caribbean, what draws people to this port city is its colonial Spanish soul, best captured perhaps in the novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, its most famous resident. If you had any illusions that Garcia Marquez's cilantro-spun stories were fiction, a few days in Cartagena will change your mind. One baby-faced cab driver, looking as if he had just stepped off the pages of One Hundred Years of Solitude, tells us of his 18 children and 30 grandchildren, many named some iteration of Jose. Characters like these aren't hard to find here. And the cobblestone, bougainvillea-draped Old Town with its bright colors, 18th-century mansions and roving salsa bands is like a spiffed-up fusion of New Orleans and Havana.
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March 9, 2009

The Environmental Film Festival presents the Colombian documentary "In Search of One River"

The Environmental Film Festival presents the Colombian documentary "In Search of One River"

The Embassy of  Colombia invites the DC community to join us in the screening of In Search of One River. A movie taking audiences on a journey through the magical, and presently war-locked, Apaporis River in the Northwest Amazon. This documentary creates awareness and respect for the ecosphere and ethnosphere. It highlights the magical beauty of the Apaporis and Jirijirimo landscape and the ancestral knowledge of the indigenous communities about medicinal and psychotropic plants. Tracing the journey taken by Richard Evans Schultes, father of ethnobotany, in the 1940s, the film crew goes on a present-day adventure filled with danger and wonder, also seeing how the Amazon jungle has, of late, become the setting for external dynamics like drug trafficking and political kidnappings. Directed by Jos Antonio Dorado Ziga. Advised by Wade Davis.
Discussions with filmmaker Jos Antonio Dorado Ziga and Wade Davis, Explorer-in-Residence, National Geographic Society, follows screening.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

The details are as follows:
Wednesday, March 11, 7:00pm
E Street Cinema: 555 11th Street NW
Admission is FREE, first come first served
 
There will be a second movie called, Ancient Voices/Modern World: Colombia, which will be presented on Tuesday, March 17, at noon in the National Geographic Museum (free admission). After the screening, Wade Davis and a representative group of Arhuacos (the spiritual leaders of this indigenous community known as Mamos) will participate in a Q&A session.
For more information visit the Environmental Film Festival Homepage

 
 

March 26, 2009

U.S. Trade Representative Invites Minister Plata to Review Bilateral Trade Agenda

U.S. Trade Representative Invites Minister Plata to Review Bilateral Trade Agenda

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

The new U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, invited Colombian Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Luis Guillermo Plata, to work together and consolidate the bilateral trade agenda.

Minister Plata informed that last Tuesday he received a call from the USTR Director interested in learning more about Colombia.  The conversations will start with a  visit of Minister Plata to Washington  in the upcoming weeks, followed by a next encounter at the Summit of the Americas  in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (April 17 19).

Minister Plata said he is confident that this initial approach of the USTR Director, will positively contribute to continue working with US Government  officials and Congress representatives to move forward in approval of the FTA.

"We are confident that the USTR, in light of the economic crisis, will assess the importance of trade as an engine to contribute to economic recovery" said Minister Plata.