March 17, 2009- News Clips - 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 16, 2009- News Clips - 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
 

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March 16, 2009- Press Releases - 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. 
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March 16, 2009- News Clips - 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 13, 2009- News Clips - 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 13, 2009- Press Releases -     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. 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. Learn More  
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March 13, 2009- News Clips - 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.
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March 10, 2009- Press Releases - 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.  
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March 10, 2009- Press Releases -   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.  
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March 9, 2009- News Clips - 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

 
 

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March 9, 2009- News Clips - 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 4, 2009- Editorials - 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 3, 2009- News Clips - 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

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March 3, 2009- News Clips - 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 2, 2009- News Clips - 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.  
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March 2, 2009- Press Releases - 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.
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February 26, 2009- Press Releases - With a unique concert of the Colombian Pacific band, Grupo Bahia,  a distinguished group of guests which included General Colin Powell, Frank Sanchez, Congressional Black Caucus Congressman Gregory Meeks and representatives of the diplomatic corps and the cultural sector, the Colombian Embassy in Washington joined the celebration of the Black History month in DC. The event was also attended by  the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jaime Bermudez, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos and the Minister of Culture, Paula Moreno. The hosts for this event were Ambassador Carolina Barco, Barbara Lee, President of the Congressional Black Caucus and Lonnie Bunch, Director of the Museum of African American History and Culture. The musical performance of Grupo Bahia entertained the guests who enjoyed typical rhythms of the Colombian Pacific region such as Currulao and Juga.   This event precedes the official presentation of the Ruta de la Marimba Project to be presented by the Minister of Culture Paula Moreno at the IDB and which will be accompanied by a live performance of Grupo Bahia. The project aims to restore and strengthen the traditional musical culture of the pacific both through schools and specialized programs. The event is open to the public and will be held today at 6:30 pm in the Enrique Iglesias Auditorium at the IDB. See Gallery  
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February 26, 2009- News Clips - Colombian VP Reaffirms Support for War on Drugs

E.J. TAMARA - Colombia Vice President Francisco Santos said Wednesday his country needs to continue waging the war on drugs if Colombia hopes to provide the security needed to attract foreign investment.Santos, making a weeklong visit to the United States, reiterated his government's position two days after three former Latin American presidents said the war on drugs had failed.
"For us the drug trafficking money is what finances criminal groups, the drug trafficking groups, corruption," the vice president said after speaking with businessmen at the headquarters of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
"For us the only action we have is to maintain pressure against the drug traffickers and act against their crops, harvests, labs, goods and continue this frontal fight."

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February 26, 2009- News Clips - Camilo Villegas taking on the PGA Match Play

 
Camilo Villegas beat Rod Pampling 7 and 6 in one of the first matches on Wednesday. Up one entering the 6th hole, Villegas proceeded to win each of the next six holes on his way to victory. That is the most consecutive holes won in a single match at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship since Tiger Woods won the first nine holes on his way to a 9 and 8 win over Stephen Ames in the first round of the 2006 event.

The 7 and 6 win for Villegas was the biggest win of the day. That also ties the third largest margin of victory in tournament history. That margin also ties the largest victory in tournament history in a match that does not include Stephen Ames. Ames lost to Tiger Woods 9 and 8 in 2006 and beat Robert Karlsson 8 and 7 in 2007 (Taken from the PGA Website)
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February 24, 2009- Editorials - WSJ - China v. Colombia

Judging by her Asian tour, Hillary Clinton clearly thinks she is more realistic about the world than her predecessor. The Secretary of State said, for instance, that pressing China on human rights "can't interfere" with cooperation between Washington and Beijing on other issues like the economic crisis or climate change. But strangely -- or perhaps not so strangely -- Mrs. Clinton and her boss seem to have a far more pinched conception of realpolitik when it comes to Colombia.  
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February 24, 2009- Press Releases -     Washington, DC Colombian Minister of Defense, Juan Manuel Santos held a meeting today with US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.  During the meeting, Santos and Gates discussed military cooperation agreements between both countries, the need to safeguard resources for Plan Colombia and the possibility of Colombia to collaborate with U.S. and NATO in Afghanistan, in areas such as de-mining, fight against drugs and advice for the design of a new police force. During the early hours, Minister Santos also held a meeting with the U.S. Colombia Business Partnership where he stressed the need to keep on working to strengthen security and the democratic institutions in Colombia. The Partnership expressed it’s commitment to keep on working in the United States to support the Colombian initiatives and interests. Tomorrow, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jaime Bermudez will start a top level agenda in Washington and Minister Santos will join him for an early meeting at the Brookings Institution followed by private conversations with high-level members of the Administration and Congress in an effort to strengthen dialogue between the two countries and explore areas of common interest.  Meetings include Senators Chris Dodd  (D-CT) and John Kerry (D-MA), Representative Roy Blunt (R-MO),National Security Adviser General James Jones, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A press spray will be possible. If interested, you must be at the State Department, entrance on C Street. After the meeting, both Colombian Ministers will held a brief press availability at the State Department.
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February 24, 2009- News Clips - REUTERS -  IADB Chief Urges Obama Act on Colombia Deal

Doug Palmer - President Barack Obama should signal his
support for open trade at the Summit of the Americas meeting in April
by laying out a plan for Congress to approve a free trade pact with
Colombia, the head of the Inter-American Development Bank said on
Monday. "It would be a great thing to come to that meeting with
that issue resolved, or at least a path towards how to resolve it,"
Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank,
said in an interview.

The United States and Colombia signed a
free trade deal in November 2006, but U.S. Democratic Party concerns
about a long history of unsolved murders of trade unionists in Colombia
has blocked approval of the agreement.
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February 23, 2009- Press Releases -     Washington, DC -The Embassy of Colombia announces that a delegation of high-ranking officials from the Government of Colombia is visiting the United States this week to meet with U.S. policymakers and members of the Obama Administration.The officials include Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos, Minister of Foreign Affairs Jaime Bermudez, Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos,Minister of Culture Paula Moreno, and the Senior Advisor for Social and Economic Reintegration, Frank Pearl. Among the issues they will discuss are topics of shared interest between Colombia and the United States, including hemispheric security, the strategic importance of Colombia within the region, the ongoing efforts to reach domestic peace and reconciliation, cultural affairs and overall the general progress of Colombia in recent years. The Vice President's agenda will focus on the promotion of Colombia's business climate. He will also utilize his visit to promote the Shared Responsibility Program, led by his Office in Colombia (www.sharedresponsibility.gov.co). The initiative seeks to raise awareness of the environmental and social effects triggered in Colombia as a consequence of the drug-production, fueled by high consumption levels abroad. His seven-day visit (February 20 - 27) includes New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The agenda of Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos includes meetings with policy makers, which will focus primarily on progress and challenges related to domestic security and the need for continued U.S. support for Plan Colombia. His visit kicks off Tuesday, February 24, with a meeting hosted by the U.S.-Colombia Business Partnership, and continues with a meeting with his U.S.counterpart, Defense Secretary Robert Gates to discuss issues of interest to both countries. On Wednesday 25, Minister of Foreign Affairs Jaime Bermudez, will participate in high-level meetings with members of the Administration and Congress, in an effort to strengthen dialogue between the two countries and explore areas of common interest. He will also hold meetings with academics and think tanks to report on Colombia's progress. Ministers Santos and Bermudez will hold joint meetings with Senators ChrisDodd  (D-CT) and John Kerry (D-MA), and Representative Roy Blunt (R-MO).The two Ministers will also participate in meetings with National Security Adviser General James Jones, and with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. On Thursday 26, Minister Bermudez will hold a meeting at the OAS to present the strategy for cooperation for the wider Caribbean Basin, and will join Minister Santos to hold meetings with Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Patrick Leahy(D-VT) and Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY). Also on Thursday, Minister of Culture Paula Moreno will meet with members of the Smithsonian Institution to continue the cultural exchange efforts and programs.  Throughout the day she will be holding meetings with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Congressmen Gregory Meeks (D-NY),Artur Davis (D-AL), Sanford Bishop (D-GA) and Corrine Brown (D-FL), to discuss the progress of the Afro Colombian Commission. At 6pm she will present the Ruta de la Marimba project and will attend the musical performance of Grupo Bahia in collaboration with the Interamerican Development Bank. In addition, Frank Pearl, Senior Advisor for Social and Economic Reintegration,will present the current state and upcoming challenges of the reintegration process in Colombia at the World Bank (February 24 & 25). On Wednesday, he will also give a lecture at the Interamerican Dialogue in collaboration with the Woodrow Wilson Center. He will attend meetings at the U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.
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February 20, 2009- News Clips - NYT - Colombian Minister: US Aid Key to Stability

Colombia's defense minister said Thursday that he hopes to convince U.S. officials that any serious cuts in U.S. aid could badly hurt his country's security gains against leftist rebels. ''Look, we're winning, we're doing well. We're just about to reach the other side of the river. Don't pull out the rug,'' said Juan Manuel Santos, outlining the message he'll bring to senior U.S. officials in a three-day trip beginning Tuesday.
Santos also told The Associated Press in an interview that there hasn't been a single report of an extra-judicial killing by the military since October, when a scandal over civilian murders led to an unprecedented purge in the ranks. Santos is to meet with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and national security adviser James L. Jones, as well as Sens. Patrick Leahy and John Kerry, powerful Democratic committee chairmen whose party has expressed deep concerns over Colombia's human rights record.  
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February 20, 2009- News Clips -  Colombia, back on the Map of World Tourism

In 2007 the Government of Colombia hosted UNWTO’s General Assembly with more than a hundred ministers of tourism and a thousand participants from around the world gathering in Cartagena de Indias.
Almost universally the participants were impressed with three issues:

  • The incredible tourism product.
  • The real difference between our perceptions before arriving and the positive realities of the tourism experience.
  • The way in which the people inside the industry and the citizens generally reflected the spirit of the Colombian national and tourism brands Colombia is Passion and The only risk is wanting to stay.

UNWTO believes that brand will be an increasingly important competitive factor and asked the Colombian Minister of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism Luis Guillermo Plata, to undertake some more in depth analysis of the Colombian case. The goal was twofold:

  • To objectively dissect the Colombian Brand and the evolution of its tourism product, promotion, perception and performance.
  • To use the results as a basis for continuing support for Members, in the context of UNWTO’s competitiveness activity, in particular with the World Economic Forum.

The report represents an overview of that analysis and underscores the contribution of tourism to the success of this national branding programme as a model example of the important role played by tourism not only in social and economic development, but also in forging the image of a country. Furthermore the report highlights the smart decision to tackle head-on the perception of Colombia as a risky destination using a clear and direct message, without shying away from mentioning risk, and using that very same perception in a positive sense, turning its originally negative connotation upside-down.

The report finds that success in dealing with these problems leads to, by means of suitable communication activities, an opportunity to regain the original positive image that was threatened, or to establish a new, more persuasive and attractive one. This is the case of a certain number of countries that are in the process of overcoming difficult situations: transitioning from authoritarian or dictatorial regimes to democratic ones, such as Vietnam or Nepal; traumatic processes of separation with serious conflicts, such as the countries resulting from the break-up of the former Yugoslavia; or the resolution of serious domestic problems generated by the threat of terrorism or drug-trafficking, such as Colombia.

Among all of these, Colombia constitutes one of the clearest cases of paradigmatic success, and stands as a model that is capable of inspiring, with the formulas implemented by Colombia’s institutions and society, the efforts of other countries that faced with similar challenges and which need to overcome difficult situations of an analogous nature.

 
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February 19, 2009- Press Releases - In honor of the Black History Month, the IDB Cultural Center, the Embassy of Colombia and the Ministry of Culture of Colombia, present a concert by the Colombian quartet GRUPO BAHA with the collaboration of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Grupo Bahía is a musical ensemble that comes from Colombia’s Pacific coast that blends the traditional folkloric sounds of instruments such as the marimba de chonta, cununos and tamboras, with those of Western instruments like the saxophone. The sense of freedom suggested in their music is characteristic of the traditional music of the region. This unique ensemble maintains the sounds of their indigenous roots while allowing for a greater freedom of interpretation from the marimba and saxophone played by Hugo Candelario. This liberty to improvise guarantees that each performance of the group is unique and original. Grupo Bahía’s goal is to rescue the regional sounds of the Colombian Pacific coast with its African heritage, as well as to explore new possibilities with its instruments. Their CD Pura Chonta was named Best CD of the Year by Colombia’s Semana magazine in 2005. On this occasion, the Minister of Culture of Colombia, Ms. Paula Moreno, will present the project Route of the Marimba that aims at rescuing and preserving the tradition of the marimba de chonta by creating schools to train young musicians in the interpretation and production of the instrument. Details for this event are: Date: Thursday, February 26, 2009 Time: 6:30 PM Location: Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC This event is free, open to the public and held at the IDB’s Enrique V. Iglesias Conference Center, 1330 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC, one block from Metro Center, 13th Street exit. Photo ID required. Attire is business casual. Seating is unreserved general admission, 400 seats. For more inforamtion please visit www.iadb.org/cultural    
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February 17, 2009- Press Releases -     Francisco Santos, Vice President of Colombia, will visit several major cities across the United States next week to promote Colombia as a site for investment and to discuss the Government’s Shared Responsibility Program. The visit, coordinated by Colombia’s Proexport office, has two purposes. First, to promote Colombia as a country that offers benefits and opportunities for foreign direct investment. The Vice President will highlight incentives that exist to promote investment in Colombia that are directly due to recent Government reform.During the administration of President Alvaro Uribe, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Colombia has tripled, due largely to increased security in the country and growing confidence in a strong economy with stable rules.  FDI in 2008was close to $9 billion U.S.  In addition, Colombia was recognized by the World Bank in its study Doing Business 2008, as a leader in Latin America for reforms implemented to improve the business climate. The Vice President will also utilize his visit to promote the Shared Responsibility Program, led by his Office in Colombia (www.sharedresponsibility.co). The initiative seeks to raise awareness of the environmental and social effects triggered in Colombia as a consequence of the drug-production, which is fueled by high consumption levels abroad. This Program delivers a powerful message about the role each and every individual can play in the exacerbation or resolution of this problem.According to the Drug Observatory of Colombia, illicit crops have led to the destruction of 2.2 million hectares of tropical forest in Colombia. This represents the size of the entire country of Slovenia. In addition to meetings with potential investors, businessmen and other interested audiences, the Vice President will meet with the Colombian-American community, representatives of the media, and with Chicago Mayor, Richard Daley. The Vice President's schedule starts February 20 in New York, followed by Chicago (23 and 24) and Los Angeles (25), and concludes in San Francisco (26and 27). See detailed agenda    
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February 17, 2009- Press Releases - During their visit to Colombia, members of Congress had the opportunity  of discussing topics such as social investment, institutional strengthening and sustainable development; giving them  the opportunity to appreciate the country's progress in various areas and learn firsthand some of the most meaningful projects developed in cooperation with the United States.  The agenda on Tuesday morning was lead by Social Action Director,  Luis Alfonso Hoyos. It included visits to the Fusion Center Project in Montes de Maria, and the Mobile Brigade of Profamilia in the Olaya Herrera neighborhood. The purpose was to introduce congress members to some of the projects developed in cooperation with the U.S. government. They also had the opportunity to visit the naval base and assess how the strengthening of the democratic institutions has resulted in higher rates of security, economic growth and social investment in Colombia. The Congressional Delegation also met with the mayor of Cartagena, the Governor of Bolivar and representatives of the private sector.  They met with civil society leaders, and later in the evening had dinner with Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos where they discussed security issues including military cooperation, terrorism and drug trafficking among other topics.     Their visit concluded on Wednesday February 18th meeting with President lvaro Uribe, who discussed the progress achieved by Colombia in different areas and the future challenges facing the country. The Members of Congress in the Congressional Delegation were: Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX) Mr. Ben Chandler (D-KY) Mr. Marion Berry (D-AR) Mr. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL)    
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February 17, 2009- News Clips -  Colombia becomes tourism destination for Chinese citizens

Visiting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping said Monday morning that Colombia has been listed as the sixth tourism destination for Chinese citizens in South America.
This will help promote the bilateral cooperation in tourism sector and as contacts of the two peoples amplify, the economy and commerce in collaboration between China and Colombia will also be strengthened. During a breakfast meeting with entrepreneurs from both sides, Xi proposed that work needs to be done with joined hands to create a beautiful future of China-Colombia friendly cooperation.
The economic-commercial cooperation is an important constitution of the friendly cooperative relation between China and Colombia as an impetus substantial for the deepening of the bilateral ties.
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February 13, 2009- News Clips - REUTERS - Colombia says anxious to work with Obama on trade

 
 
 
 
 
 

By DougPalmer -  Colombia is eager to work with President Barack Obama on steps to win approval of a long-delayed free trade pact and is moving to prosecute more suspected murderers of trade union leaders, Bogota's ambassador to the United States said. "We're here and ready to work together," Ambassador Carolina Barco told Reuters after a hearing Thursday in House, where lawmakers heard testimony about thousands of unsolved murders of trade unionists over the past 23 years. Concern among U.S. Democrats about that bloody history has blocked approval of the bilateral trade deal that former President Bush's administration signed with Colombia in November 2006.
The pact would lock in and expand Colombia's duty-free access to the United States under a long-standing program and eliminate most Colombian duties on U.S. exports. U.S.businesses estimate they have paid more than $1.5 billion in duties since the pact was signed more than two years ago. Last year then-candidate Obama said, "We have to stand for human rights and we have to make sure that violence isn't being perpetrated against workers who are just trying to organize for their rights.
"The history in Colombia right now is that labor leaders have been targeted for assassination on a fairly consistent basis and there have not been prosecutions," he said. Now that Obama is in office, Colombia wants to begin talks with his new administration on a path that would lead to enactment of the trade pact.
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