The recently appointed U.S. special envoy to Colombian peace talks met with government and rebel negotiators for the first time on Sunday, holding separate sessions with each side, a Colombian government official said. President Barack Obama named veteran diplomat Bernard Aronson as special envoy on Feb. 20. It was Washington's second major engagement with Latin America after reversing longstanding Cuba policy on Dec. 17, agreeing to restore diplomatic ties and end half a century of confrontation with the communist-led island.
Colombia plans to boost capacity at its main airport in Bogota by as much as 50 percent over the next two years, to ease delays and overcrowding amid a surge in international travel. The Andean nation grew at the fastest pace among major Latin American economies last year, boosting Colombians’ demand for tourism and business travel. At the same time, the number of foreigners arriving rose 11 percent as violence levels fell to a three-decade low.
A report issued Feb. 1 by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service found: Colombia grows 20,000 acres of flowers. Around 17,500 acres are cultivated under greenhouse conditions while the remaining 2,500 acres are produced outdoors, under rain-fed conditions.
Miss Colombia, Paulina Vega, was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday night, while Miss USA, Nia Sanchez, came in second. The other finalists, chosen from among 88 contestants, were Miss Jamaica, Kaci Fennell; Miss Ukraine, Diana Harkusha; and Miss Netherlands, Yasmin Verheijen.
Colombia has much to brag about — cutting poverty by half, doubling international air connections and quadrupling the size of its economy since 2000 — but these are just byproducts of its crowning achievement over the last two decades: defeating organized crime with the help of the United States, the country’s ambassador said in Atlanta.
Paulina Vega is the first Colombian beauty queen to don the Miss Universe crown in 56 years, and she said she hopes to help her home country during her reign. The Barranquilla-born business student stopped by HuffPost Live on Friday to chat about her win and more. After the segment, Vega, 22, spoke to The Huffington Post about her desire to visit Colombia during her year as Miss Universe and what causes she’d like to help out with there.
… Tourism is also rising, and the government has adopted the phrase “magical realism” to promote it (see colombia.travel/en). Magical realism is usually associated with the literature of Colombia’s pre-eminent writer, the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But it also describes what I saw here, including pink dolphins in the Amazon.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg traveled to Colombia on Wednesday to bring his global Internet-access initiative to Latin America. In an event with President Juan Manuel Santos, the billionaire explained how even low-end mobile phone users in Colombia will now be able to access for free a limited number of websites thanks to a partnership with a local cellular phone provider, Tigo.
What do Delta Air Lines, UPS Supply Chain Solutions and Newell Rubbermaid Inc. have in common? They are just a few of the Georgia companies doing business in Colombia. Years ago, Colombia was perceived as being synonymous with violence, crime and drug cartels. This is not the case today. Because of progressive social, economic and political reforms in the last decade, Colombia has transformed remarkably. Security and stability have been restored, and our economy is thriving and growing. The Colombia of today is a new Colombia, and it’s open for business.