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.  
Read the full speech

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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 ( 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.

The Full Report is available here

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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    
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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 ( 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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February 11, 2009- News Clips - Progress Report - Protection, Justice and Rights of Union Members in Colombia

In the light of the upcoming hearing, convened by the House Committee on Education and Labor for February 12, Examining Workers’ Rights and Violence Against Labor Union Leaders in Colombia, the Embassy of Colombia has prepared valuable information to highlight both the progress and the challenges faced by this group in Colombia, within a complex context of violence that has affected Colombia, its society and institution; a violence rooted in the profitable illegal drugs business.
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February 11, 2009- News Clips - Colombia's Cupid Campaign to Spread Love and Flower Reminders Before Valentine's Day

Romance will be in the air in New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco as dozens of "cupids" take to the streets with messages of love and flowers. As part of a flower awareness campaign by Asocolflores, the Association of Colombian Flower Exporters, cupids will target high-traffic areas in five major U.S. cities on February 10th, 11th and 12th to remind consumers to make flowers the gift of choice this Valentine's Day. The cupids will be outfitted in attire featuring messages such as "Men Love Flowers Too, Don't Forget Him," "Flowers Have Zero Calories" and "Follow Your Hunch, Give Her a Bunch of Flowers." Passersby will also receive blank Valentine cards to further spread messages of love to others and to pass on reminders to purchase flowers.




"We wanted to create a simple, yet effective program aimed at reminding consumers that a dozen red roses are still the best way to express your love this Valentine's Day," said Augusto Solano, President of Asocolflores. "Colombia's Cupid Campaign is a fun, exciting way to interact with consumers while also reminding them to plan their Valentine's Day flower purchases for anyone they love."
While consumer spending may be down, Asocolflores believes Americans will still look to flowers as the gift of love this holiday. In fact, according to the just released National Retail Federation's 2009 Valentine's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch, this year the number of flower purchases will be about same as last year. The survey revealed over one-third (35.7 percent) of people will buy flowers compared to last year's 35.9 percent.
To meet the demand for beautiful blooms this Valentine's Day, Colombian growers have shipped hundreds of millions of stems to the U.S. in time for the holiday. Two out of every three cut flowers sold in the U.S. are grown in Colombia and the majority of these blooms are grown on the 163 farms participating in the Florverde(R) program. Florverde(R) is a third-party certification program that ensures flowers grown and harvested in Colombia adhere to stringent international socio-environmental standards.
"Florverde represents a commitment to social and environmental responsibility by Colombian flower growers," said Solano. "When Americans purchase flowers this Valentine's Day, they are not only expressing an act of love and communicating emotions, but also supporting businesses in the United States as well as global environmental progress and social programs that help Colombian flower workers and their families."


About Asocolflores
Asocolflores was created in 1973 as a non-profit industry association to promote Colombia's flower sector in international markets and seek the comprehensive development of floriculture, especially in terms of scientific research, transportation, environmental sustainability and workers' welfare. Asocolflores participates actively within Colombia and internationally to represent the interests of flower growers. In Colombia, the Association is part of a range of committees and economic councils, in both the public and private sectors.

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February 11, 2009- News Clips - BBC - Moral drugs message for students

A campaign highlighting the ethical impact of cocaine abuse is being targeted at university students.
The Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) said
cocaine production in Columbia caused social and environmental
devastation. For every two grams of cocaine consumed in Scotland, about eight square meters of Colombian jungle are cut down. Thought-provoking posters and beer mats raising the issue have been distributed to student union bars across Scotland. SCDEA said it hoped the ethical message would help to change attitudes and reduce demand for cocaine in Scotland.
consumption ignites a vicious international cycle of environmental,
social and individual destruction of which everyone should be aware"
Francisco Santos - Colombian Vice President

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February 10, 2009- News Clips - Press freedom violations on the wane in Colombia, says FLIP

Good news from Colombia: there were fewer press freedom violations in the first half of 2008 in Colombia than over the same period last year - likely because 2008 is not an election year, a new report by the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) has found.
From January to June, FLIP recorded 63 cases of violations - a 27 percent decrease from the first six months of 2007. Death threats remain the most common form of violations (with 38 cases recorded), especially for journalists reporting on the armed conflict, corruption at the local and departmental levels, or recent national political scandals. Continue reading...
To read the full report in spanish click here.

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February 6, 2009- News Clips - Villegas vaults to PGA Buick Invitational lead

Camilo Villegas of Colombia carded a nine-under par 63 to seize the first-round lead in the 5.3 million-dollar Buick Invitational. Villegas, whose two US victories last year included the Tour Championship, was three shots in front of veteran Davis Love and Australian Aaron Baddeley, who both shot 66. Villegas's round included eight birdies and an eagle, and just one bogey.
"Well, pretty fun day, obviously," he said. "Two chip-ins - that helps.
"One on No. 2 for eagle, and then a nice one there on 17 to finish the round. But even if you take the chip-ins out, I played pretty good.
"I drove it nicely. I hit some great shots and left myself some good opportunities," Villegas said. "It's not easy to have a good short game on that golf course today. The greens are bumpy, and you've just got to be really committed to your line, and that's exactly what I did today."
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February 5, 2009- News Clips - Colombia to Export 300 Million Stems of Certified Florverde Flowers This Valentine's Day

Organic Consumers Association (OCA) Editor's Note:  When the OCA first launched its Valentines Campaign
three years ago, the majority of flowers imported into the U.S. came
from Colombian farms where massive amounts of pesticides were used and
farmworkers were treated poorly.  Since then, Florverde Certification
is on the rise. This is not an organic certification (see our
Valentines Alert Buying Guide for organic flowers), but it is a big
step in the right direction for the cut flower industry.

 Looking for that
"feel-good" gift for Valentine's Day? You won't have to look very far.
With 300 million stems of certified Florverde(R) flowers headed to the
United States from Colombia, millions of sweethearts can feel good
about the flowers they will purchase for the holiday of love. The
majority of Colombian flowers shipped to the U.S. are grown on
Florverde(R)-certified farms, which are in compliance with stringent
U.S social and environmental standards.

 "Everyone can feel confident purchasing flowers this Valentine's Day
and everyday," said Augusto Solano, President of the Colombian
Association of Flower Exporters (Asocolflores). "Buying flowers
supports an international industry that continues to make strides to
improve social, environmental, labor and occupational health and safety

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February 4, 2009- Editorials - EDITORIAL - The FARC's cynical stunt


The Colombian rebel group's recent hostage release was just a ploy. If it wants political credibility, it must renounce violence and free all its captives.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which has funded its war against the government with drug trafficking and kidnappings for ransom, has released four hostages: three police officers and a soldier. Two more are to be released in coming days, according to a senior rebel leader, as a gesture of goodwill. But the time for gestures is long past. If the FARC's aim is political credibility, it needs to demonstrate a complete rejection of lawless behavior and release the hundreds of other captives it still holds in the jungle.
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February 2, 2009- Op-eds - Our nation's financial crisis has hit the state of New Jersey particularly hard. Our families are struggling, businesses are working overtime to survive, and job creators have been stifled. We must do what we can to revitalize all aspects of our economy and leverage every opportunity for growth. One strategy for financial recovery is opening new markets for American products.

Our nation's financial crisis has hit the state of New Jersey particularly hard. Our families are struggling, businesses are working overtime to survive, and job creators have been stifled. We must do what we can to revitalize all aspects of our economy and leverage every opportunity for growth. One strategy for financial recovery is opening new markets for American products.
International trade agreements are a concrete step we can take to strengthen our economy and promote job opportunities. These agreements take time to negotiate, but Congress can act now by passing the pending Colombia Free Trade Agreement. The agreement has received broad support, and provisions have been included for strong labor, rule-of-law, and environmental protection.
Read OP-ED
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.) is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
Paul Boudreau is the President of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce.


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February 2, 2009- News Clips - Ten new amphibian species discovered in Colombia

Scientists announced the discovery of 10 amphibians believed to be new to science, including a spiky-skinned, orange-legged rain frog, three poison frogs and three glass frogs, so called because their transparent skin can reveal internal organs. 
The species were discovered during a recent Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) expedition in Colombia’s mountainous Tacarcuna area of the Darien, near the border with Panama. The expedition was led by herpetologists from Conservation International (CI) in Colombia and ornithologists from the Ecotrópico Foundation, with the support of the local Emberá community of Eyakera.
Over a period of three-weeks, the scientists identified approximately 60 species of amphibians, 20 reptiles and almost 120 species of birds, many of them apparently found nowhere else.  
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January 30, 2009- News Clips - Colombian Entrepreneur won second place at the world BiD Challenge

Diana Sofía Seplveda,a young
Colombian who was chosen last november as the best colombian entrepreneur in
the 2008 National Entrepreneur Contest sponsored by the Ministry of
Commerce,Industry and Tourism, won second place at the world BiD
Challenge in Amsterdam, Holland.

The BiD Challenge is a
prestigious international competition aimed at new or established SME's
that display innovation and have a significant social component.Diana
s project, chosen between  more than 1,000 business plans of ten
countries around world, is the manager of Cafetanol, a company which
produces bio-ethanol fuel from the waste of coffee pulp. Her energy
project was continuously supported by the Ministry of Commerce,
the Dutch foundation BiD Network, the Junior Chamber, SENA and the
Administration faculty at Universidad de los Andes.
won second place at the competition will allow her to have  access and
contact with potential investors, entrepreneurs and international
mentors. In addition, Diana Sofia was awarded a cash prize of 10,000
The Minister for Commerce, Industry and Tourism Luis
Guillermo Plata, welcomed the news and congratulated the winner, who
said, "it's a worthy example for young entrepreneurs in the country, and
motivates us to continue supporting all those entrepreneurs engaged in
projects and businesses that have a clear potential for development. "
Minister also stressed that this silver triumph would not have been
possible without the support of public organizations, academic and
private institutions and all those who were linked to these initiatives
as sponsors, judges and mentors.

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January 29, 2009- News Clips - Cartagena will host the World Economic Forum for Latin America 2010

The announcement was made by President lvaro Uribe Vlez and Professor
Klaus Schwab, Founder and CEO of the World Economic Forum, who met
Thursday in Davos, Switzerland.

Cartagena was chosen to host the
World Economic Forum for Latin America, which will take place between
March and April 2010.
This designation highlights the
accomplishments made by Colombia in keay areas lilke  investor
confidence and security.  This forum is of great importance because it
brings together heads of state,major investors and global leaders to

The meeting, also attended by Foreign
Affairs Minister Jaime
Bermudez and Trade Minister Luis Guillermo Plata,  included discussions
on the global economic situation. President Uribe also took this
opportunity to explain the three pillars of his
government:  Democratic Security, investor confidence and social

On his behalf, Mr. Schwab thanked President Uribe for his participation at the World Economic Forum in Davos.


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January 28, 2009- News Clips - Constructive dialogue between Presidents Uribe and Obama

"Barack Obama, President of the United States, called President lvaro Uribe Vlez. They talked by phone yesterday afternoon for approximately ten minutes.  "said Press Secretary of the Presidency, Cesar Mauricio Velasquez.

During their conversation, President Uribe and President Obama discussed issues of common interest to both the United States and Colombia.

It was a cordial and constructive conversation between the President of the United States and the President of Colombia.  

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January 28, 2009- News Clips - The Government will issue a report to the international community on the protection of union members

The announcement was made by President lvaro Uribe Vlez in Medellín during the inauguration of Colombiatex of the Americas 2009. He argued that thanks to the Democratic Security Policy of the Government, the murder of union members has been  significantly declining in the country.  The report will be issued in coordination with Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, and the Director of the National Police General Oscar Naranjo.

"General Naranjo (Director of the National Police), the Minister of Defense (Juan Manuel Santos) and myself, will be giving a  bi-weekly or monthly  report to the international community on this issue. We already have 140 people in jail responsible for killing workers. One would want zero murders, "said the president.
President Uribe highlighted the significant reduction in the number of murders of union leaders during 2008.
"In Colombia there was a time were union leaders killed reached 256. Last year, in a country where there were 16,060 murders, only 36 were union members or teachers. We are protecting  2,000 union members and teachers in a scheme of protection that accounts for US$ 40 million. So far in this year, no union members have been killed."he said.

The Head of State said that thanks to the Democratic Security Policy the murder of union members has been significantly declining in the country.
"Some interesting things we see as a result of this security policy is, according to reports from the Attorney General Office, murder attempts against union members are no longer because of their affiliation to these organizations. "

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January 27, 2009- News Clips - U.S. and Colombia lead project aimed at Indigenous and Afro-Colombian Communitites

Today in Cali, the governments of Colombia and the United States submitted  the draft proyect of Territoros Etnicos Productivos (TEP) which will benefit African-Colombian and Indigenous communities of Cauca, Nario and Buenaventura. This initiative,  amounting to COP$30,000 million pesos, is the first joint effort between both governments aimed to develop  income generation initiatives, food security and institutional strengthening.

The initiative was presented by Vice President Francisco Santos, U.S. Ambassador William R. Brownfield, and the Director of International Cooperation of the Presidential Agency for Social Action and International Cooperation (Acción Social), Sandra Alzate.
This joint project of the Colombian government and the U.S. government, through its Agency for International Development (USAID), seeks to provide economic alternatives to people affected or at risk of being affected by illicit crops. It will benefit 13 thousand families and generate 12 thousand jobs.
Terriotrios Etnicos Productivos comprises 32 projects concentrated in 12 municipalities of Buenaventura, 18 municipalities of Cauca and 13 municipalities of Nario. All the projects were succesfully agreed with 99 community councils and 29 indigenous reserves identified in 2008. The production industries that will be developed include: forestry, cocoa, palm, quinua, coconut, sugar cane, construction, food and services, pineapple, coffee, bananas, chontaduro and traditional agriculture amongst others.   

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