June 9, 2009- Press Releases -   Colombia's President, Alvaro Uribe Velez, appointed current Presidential Adviser for Social Action, Luis Alfonso Hoyos, as new ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS). Ospina will continue to lead the Colombian diplomats in Washington until June 18.  
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June 8, 2009- Press Releases -     The Minister of Interior and Justice Fabio Valencia Cossio,and the Deputy Minister of Justice, Miguel Ceballos, will meet Monday in Washington with Secretary of Justice and Attorney General of the United States,Eric Holder. Minister Valencia highlighted the desire of the Colombian government to have  the highest level dialogue with the Government of United States in all aspects of justice and coordination in the fight against all forms of crime that affect societies both countries. He referred to the importance of the justice issues, which arethe responsibility of the Executive branch, to be directly addressed by the Secretary of Justice of the United States and Minister of Justice of Colombia.T his approach has not been recorded for over 10 years. The main points to be discussed at the meeting are: Extradition The Government reaffirmed its international cooperation policy of fighting organized crime through the extradition of Colombian nationals linked to crimes such as drug trafficking and money laundering, among others. Judicial cooperation The Government pays special attention to judicial cooperation through virtual audiences to facilitate the prosecution with Colombians extradited to the United States and seek mechanisms to facilitate further collaboration with the Colombian justice system. Strengthening the Criminal Accusatory The Minister of Interior and Justice will discuss the development of the Criminal Accusatory System in Colombia and request technical support for its strengthening. Fight against drugs In developing the policy against drug trafficking, the Interior Minister of Justice will discuss various aspects of Colombia's action against drug trafficking and strengthening mechanisms to combat the whole chain, from cultivation to the consumption. Protection for union leaders The Minister of Interior and Justice will inform the Attorney General and Secretary of Justice of the United States on the actions the Colombian Government has taken  to strengthen the policy of protection of Human Rights.  Special attention will be dedicated to  the protection of social, political and religious leaders in the country.  The Minister highlighted a fact that points to that direction with  the adoption of a bill,presented by the government, which increases the penalties for crimes against trade unionists, civil servants, journalists, human rights defenders, candidate or  aspiring candidates to office, political and religious leaders.    
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June 5, 2009- News Clips - NYT - Shakira’s Children

By SCOTT MALCOMSON. Last October, on the plane from Miami to San Salvador, Shakira stared into her MacBook, pondering. The next morning, she was to give a speech on the importance of early-childhood development to an Ibero-American summit meeting that would gather most of the heads of state of Latin America as well as the prime minister and king of Spain, the prime minister of Portugal and a select group of somewhat lesser dignitaries.

This was not the usual venue for Shakira Mebarak Ripoll of Barranquilla, Colombia. That would be stadium-size, and could be anywhere in the world, filled with thousands and thousands of fans, the people who have made her among the biggest-selling female vocalists on the planet. But Shakira has this other side she began charitable work right after she had her first big hit, at 18 and two years ago she, her longtime boyfriend, Antonio de la Rua, and some of their friends conceived the idea of a loose union of Ibero-American singers, called ALAS (wings in Spanish), which would use the power of their fame to mobilize fans, and the politicians fans vote for, to advance the cause of early-childhood development. Since then they had rallied most of the biggest pop stars in the Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking worlds; held enormous concerts in Mexico and Argentina; gained the philanthropic support of some of Latin America’s richest families (as well as Warren Buffett’s son Howard); and captured the attention of a good number of heads of state. Now, flying down to El Salvador, staring at her Mac, she was, perhaps, approaching her moment of political breakthrough.

It’s already too long! she said, smiling resignedly as she typed out her speech. And I still have more I want to say. Tap tap tap. At the back of the eight-seater plane was the Spanish megastar Alejandro Sanz, scratching out his own speech, his girlfriend next to him, in a leggy bundle, nursing a bad cold. His relaxed focus contrasted with Shakira’s nervousness, and periodically Shakira ribbed him about it, which made him grin. Tap tap tap.

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June 5, 2009- News Clips - NWA.COM - Expanded selection of Colcaf coffee products announced by Walmart

In March, Walmart announced an expanded selection of Colcaf coffee products for Walmart's Sam's Choice gourmet coffee program. Besides the 100 percent Colombian coffee Walmart carries, some 3,500 Walmart stores in the United States will also carry Colombian French Roast, House Blend, Espresso Roast and Breakfast Blend varieties.

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June 4, 2009- News Clips - Colombia will host the sixth summit of the Organization of American States in 2013

Colombia will host the sixth summit of the Organization of American States, OAS, which will take place in 2013, the American foreign ministers and delegates decided Wednesday. The summit of the OAS is a meeting of all American Presidents and is held every four years. Politicians from 34 countries agreed that Colombia has the capacity, experience and environmental conditions to be a "very good host".
Cartagena and Medellin are the most likely cities to host the summit.  
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June 2, 2009- News Clips - Donohue’s Bogotá speech calls for continued action on Colombia Trade Agreement

In a speech before the Colombian-American Chamber of Commerce in Bogotá, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue applauded Colombia as a vital trading partner and urged its political and business leaders to continue to press the U.S. Congress for action on the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement.
Let me be very clear the burden now rests on the Congress of the United States, on the government of the United States and on the people of the United States to pass this agreement, Donohue said.  Every day of delay hurts American workers, hurts American companies, hurts American farmers and it hurts Colombia too.
Referencing the success of previous trade agreements, Donohue urged business leaders in Colombia to press the U.S. Congress for action on the agreement through increased lobbying visits to Washington.  He also warned them to prepare for the baseless verbal attacks that their country will face as the agreement moves forward.
Despite many distractions, let’s keep our eyes on the prize, he said.  Do the hard work of getting ready, educating members of Congress about Colombia, and building support for the agreement.
While in Colombia, Donohue met with President lvaro Uribe and U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield. Beyond the trade agreement, he highlighted the Chamber’s support for an expedited, global economic recovery by supporting extraordinary action from Congress and the Federal Reserve, fighting protectionism and strengthening intellectual property protection.



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June 1, 2009- News Clips - El Consulado de Colombia en Washington publica el listado de las cdulas que estan listas




Consulte aquí el listado de las cdulas de ciudadanía que están listas para ser recogidas por sus respectivos dueos en la sede del consulado en Washington, D.C. 




Para mayor información sobre trámites y servicios que presta el consulado, haga click acá.

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May 29, 2009- Press Releases -     The announcement was done by Carlos Costa Posada, Minister of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development, at the end of a meeting with U.S. Ambassador in Colombia, William Brownfield. "The U.S.Government has expressed a keen  interest and support for the Colombian environmental issues," said the Minister.  "Colombia will actively collaborate with the proposed environmental programs for the region made by the President of the United States, Barack Obama,". The minister explained  U.S.  interest in  supporting sustainable development projects, environmental initiatives and  the protection of forest reserves programs. "President Obama announced his interest to establish a regional cooperation program to address energy issues  and climate change. It is a program currently being designed by the United States and they have invited us to provide  ideas and recommendations," said Costa Posada . According to the Minister of Environment, Colombia is one of the regional leaders in controlling greenhouse gas emissions. "Undoubtedly, the U.S. government has expressed great interest and support for the environmental issue in Colombia. We welcome their interest and will continue to keep working together," the official concluded.  
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May 29, 2009- News Clips - Villegas Editores wins 19 prizes at the International Latino Book Awards




At the annual ceremony of the Latino Book Awards in New York, nineteen books fromt he Colombian publishing house, Villegas Editores, won 19 awards. The second most important fair of the world, BookExpo America 2009,   provided the framework for this ceremony which brings together the best publishers around the world. The ILBA (International Latino Book Awards) awards are given to publishers of any nationality for books that have a Latin theme and are distributed in the United States. The selection criteria include traits such as quality, originality and innovation in content and design.

Each award is assessed by a group of five experts jurors located in different parts of the United States, which account for a total number of two hundred thirty juries the competition. After a rigorous analysis, the juries issue their verdicts from their cities of residence, so that the winners can be widely recognized throughout the territory. The authors, photographers, illustrators and designers associated with the various books of Villegas Editores, as well as the cultural and natural wealth of our country, find in this competition a unique opportunity to be valued and recognized internationally. 
Villegas Editores won awards in the following categories:

  • Best Educational Children’s Book - Spanish or Bilingual
  • Best Arts Book - Spanish or Bilingual - Tie
  • Best Cookbook - Spanish or Bilingual
  • Best History/Political Book - Spanish or Bilingual
  • Best Cover Design Hard Cover - Tie
  • Best Interior
  • Best First Book - Spanish

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May 28, 2009- Press Releases -     The Embassy of Colombia thas announced that on Friday, May 29, Cartagena will be the scene for the presentation of results of an evaluation conducted by the Commission for the Advancement of the Afro Colombian, Palanque and Raizal Population. We need to develop a racially inclusive approach in Colombia. The Commission’s recommendations aim to improve education, income generation and political representation, all conditions that will allow the complete and equal development of the Afro Colombian, Palenque and Raizal Community, said Vice President Francisco Santos. For over a year, the members of the Commission have been working to study the conditions of this population in Colombia, with the permanent participation of recognized members of the Afro Colombian, Palenque and Raizal community.Similarly, the Commission has received guidance from the United States Congressional Black Caucus, which has been open to share its expertise and knowledge with Colombia.   U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) has been particularly involved in theCommission’s work and has been fully supportive of the need to keep movingforward on this track. Mr. Meeks, together with Badi Foster, Phelp Stokes Fund; Julian Roberts, Assistant to Mr. Foster; Ambassador Larry Palmer, Inter-American Foundation; Joe Beasley, Southern regional director for the Rainbow/ PUSH Coalition; Austin R. Cooper, Jr., Goodworks Institute; and Stephanie Jones, Urban League, will join Vice President Santos; Paula Moreno Zapata, Minister of Culture; Pastor Murillo, Director of Afro-Colombian Community Affairs, Ministry of Interior and Judith Pineda, Mayor of Cartagena, for the presentation that will take place at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, May 29, after a series of meetings,which began today.   ABOUT THE COMMISSION The Commission was established in October 2007, and started its work in May2008. It is led by Vice President Santos. The main purpose of the Commission was to evaluate the living conditions of the Afro Colombian, Palenque and Raizal population, and submit recommendations to the Government aimed at overcoming the existing barriers that have stifled the progress of this population, particularly in the economic and social fields, as well as regarding the protection and fulfillment of their civil rights.   The Commission’s members include Government officials, Afro Colombian membersof Congress, the academic and private sectors. Likewise, there has beenpermanent participation of representatives of the Afro Colombian population,through its leaders and organizations, as well as international leaders including representatives of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus.  
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May 28, 2009- Press Releases -     In 2007, Colombia was ranked number 50 and now lies in position 38 according to the International Congress and Convention Association, with a special recognition to Bogota and Cartagena. The country outperformed destinations such as Uruguay, Russia, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Panama and Puerto Rico, among others.  Nubia Stella Martinez, Vice President of Tourism Proexport noted that this result is good news, since the consolidation exercise of events promotion is a very  recent institutional effort. The official explained that tourism is a crucial aspect for development since  it regulates the seasonality of tourism demand, creates jobs and promotes the exchange of professional knowledge. Moreover, it constitutes a factor of promotional efforts of the national tourism.  Colombia's rise in the ranking of ICCA, which involved 90 countries, is a good the evidence of a coordinated effort with various public and private agencies in the country.  She highlighted  the progress of Cartagena and Bogota in the ranking. The first moved  from position 89 to 69, with a total of 22events last year, while the capital moved from position 114 to 108, with 15international meetings. The International Congress & Convention Association is the global networkof industry conferences and conventions, which was founded in 1963 by a groupof travel agents. Currently, ICCA is comprised of 850 member companies andtourism organizations from 85 countries in the corporate world. Its mission isto ensure that its members always maintain competitive advantages in the fieldof congresses and conventions. To learn more about the report, click here.  
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May 27, 2009- Press Releases - It is impossible to find another person with the merit that you have to receive the San Carlos medal. Thank you, Speaker Hastert. You are a great friend of Colombia  the Head of State said after thanking Speaker Hastert for his support. We will never forget that time when you came to Colombia to approve Plan Colombia in the year 2000. Plan Colombia has been an excellent decision, a step forward. It's the first practical aid that we have received from the entire world,  and you were one of the main supporters of Plan Colombia , the Colombian Leader pointed. Those unilateral trade preferences had your support voice. The negotiations for our bilateral Free Trade Agreement found in you a great sponsor. Now the Colombian people are hopeful that, with friends like you, we can have the ratification of our FTA, he added. As for the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, he thanked the honor and assured that he has worked together with President Uribe, because he believes in the goodness of the Colombian people and in its democracy. Thank you so much from the bottom of my hearth. This democracy which is the oldest democracy in South America, has worked hard to overcome many problems. We are, indeed, friends on a national basis. We do understand, between the United States and Colombia, the need to work together. But the need to work together begins in personal friendship, and I pledge mine. Thank you Hastert said.   
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May 26, 2009- News Clips - President Uribe received a recognition from the University of Pennsylvania

President of Colombia, lvaro Uribe Vlez received on May 21st the Dean’s Medal given by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, one of the most prestigious business schools of the world. The President received the award from Thomas Robertson, Dean of the Finances Faculty of the business school at the Ministry of Foreign Relations Office.
Robertson praised the personal qualities of President Uribe and his work for the benefit of all Colombians. Under his ethical and strong leadership, Colombia has not only stabilized, but also has flourished, and its achievements show progress in security and also the strengthening of democracy and institutions as well as an economic expansion, the Dean said.

He also highlighted the increase of foreign investment and investors trust, and the commitment with social cohesion and social responsibility, which allows access to education and attention to the country’s priorities. When he was receiving the award in the name of all Colombians, President Uribe said that the Wharton School has been a leadership trainer and a sleepless worker for private investment and supporter of an integration of the world’s economy.

It has been a great school for management, for leadership, and for what holds one and other, the law, commitment with others, and all that is around fundamental ethical concepts, the President remarked.

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May 22, 2009- Press Releases -     Today in Bogota the first of thirteen meetings that will be held all over the country took place in accordance to the agreements reached April 30th during the inauguration of the National Meeting to Guarantee the Rights of Social and Community organizations and Human Rights Groups. Interior Viceminister Viviana Manrique Zuluaga launched the first Regional Meeting together with Samuel Moreno Rojas, Mayor of Bogota, Clara Rojas, member of the Mayor’s Cabinet, Wolmar Perez, Ombudsman, Carlos Franco, Director Human Rights Presidential Program, Rafael Bustamante, Director Human Rights Program Ministry of Interior and Justice and Gloria Florez, Minga Director and representative to this regional meeting. Mrs.Manrique thanked the Mayor’s Office enthusiastic response to this first meeting and requested continued cooperation to ensure improved conditions so that human rights advocates, community and social leaders and vulnerable segments of the population can carry out their legitimate tasks in Bogota.    The Viceminister was pleased with the massive attendance of civil, military and police authorities and reiterated how today’s activity will not solve every problem, but it certainly is the beginning of a process which will allow us to establish a permanent dialogue. For more information click here  
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May 20, 2009- Press Releases -     Carolina Barco, Ambassador of Colombia to the  United States, will receive the Meritorious Service Award, given by the American Planning Association (APA) for her achievements and contributions as an urban planning professional. Every year, APA recognizes professional planners that have made significant achievements in planning, progress and advocacy. This year the President of the American Planning Association will be responsible for delivering the prize to the Colombian Ambassador to the United States. Carolina Barco will be the keynote speaker during the APA's annual meeting with a conference about Bogotá, where she collects the succesful experience of urban renewal in the Colombian capital and how it allowed a social and cultural transformation of the city.   The award ceremony will be held on May 21 at the Symposium 1909 - 2109:Sustaining the Lasting Value of American Planning. The event is organized by the APA and will be at the National Building Museum, which commemorated the centenary of the first meeting held in May 1909, when 43 planners met in Washington in the First National Conference on Planning, regarded as the birth of the planning movement in the United States.  See Gallery 1 See Gallery 2
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May 20, 2009- News Clips - Colombia launches new website to promote Foreign Direct Investment

The Government of Colombia has launched the official website  to promote foreign direct investment in the country, www.investincolombia.com.co.  This  new service provides audiences with information about opportunities and incentives offered by the Government . It ncludes a detailed step by step guide on how to invest.
The Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Luis Guillermo Plata said: "Investors have for the moment, information on 19 potential sectors. The website also includes information on the country, macroeconomic indicators, cases of success, and all the information about incentives,". He added:  Today, Colombia enjoys more positive international attention and it’s one of the reasons why  we are doubling the  efforts for promotion of FDI".

Minister Plata also highlighted the attractions the country offers to foreign investors, such as free zones, free trade agreements and legal stability, among others.

"Colombia today is a destination for investment, and it's  the right time to make a strong promotion of the country. With the launch of this website we are telling the world: Colombiais here! "said Minister Plata. 

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May 18, 2009- News Clips - Colombia's film business moves forward

Generous state support and soaring private investment are spurring further growth in Colombia's film industry.
In fact, the impact of a 2003 film law that established tax breaks for film financiers and the creation of a $3 million annual Film Development Fund,. . continues to reverberate, playing a pivotal role in getting Cannes' Un Certain Regard entry "Los viajes del viento" (The Wind Journeys) off the ground. Similarly affected was Camilo Matis' 40-minute short "1989," starring Vincent Gallo, which closes the fest's Critics' Week.
"By having 'Los viajes del viento' and '1989' accepted by official sections in Cannes this year, we are reaping the benefits of years of government stimulus and promotion of national cinema," says Claudia Triana, head of nonprofit Proimagenes en Movimiento, which manages the Film Development Fund among its myriad functions. She says the last Colombian film accepted in an official Cannes section was Victor Gaviria's "The Rose Seller" in 1998.
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May 14, 2009- Op-eds - WASHINGTON TIMES - Free Trade as a Stimulus Strategy

By Kim R. Holmes - Most people agree that, when it comes to economic recovery, more economic activity is better than less. When companies buy and sell more goods and services, we get more jobs and growth.
Yet, for some reason, this obvious fact eludes those who want to constrain America's access to overseas markets. At a time when government is spending hundreds of billions of dollars it doesn't have on doubtful "stimulus" initiatives, you've got to wonder why some politicians continue to argue against free trade agreements. After all, these pacts have a proven track record. Trade has created millions of jobs and is responsible for almost a third of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP).
Three free trade agreements (FTA) are currently in play in Washington. Two of them - pacts with Colombia and South Korea - are in trouble due to union opposition. Despite claiming to be in favor of free trade, the Obama administration has not been willing to buck big labor and push for these deals. The third pending agreement, with Panama, has brighter prospects. President Obama seems willing to push Congress on this one because it has the least opposition from Democrats and unions, and also because it is an economic "no-brainer."
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May 14, 2009- News Clips - Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, praises Colombia's young people




At the NYU commencement speech at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday May 13th, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton ,praised the demonstration lead by colombian young people against terrorism. Here is the excerpt:

The biggest challenges we face today will be solved by the 60 percent of the world's population under the age of 30. And already, young people, like all of you, are using their talents and ingenuity to help fashion their own brand of service and diplomacy.
A few examples: In the nation of Colombia, two young college graduates, fed up with the violence in their country, used Facebook to organize 14 million people into the largest antiterrorism demonstrations in the history of the world.(Applause.) In a few short weeks, their peaceful efforts did as much damage to the terrorist networks as years of military action.

To read all the speech, click here

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May 12, 2009- Press Releases -     Vicepresident Santos will be in the United States on May 13 to participate in the 39th Washington Conference on the Americas, Renewing the Promise of Prosperity. His conference will start at 9:15 a.m. at the US Department ofState (2201 C Street, NW, Washington DC). He will have a 30 minutes press availability with those media interested at 11:45 a.m., room 1207. Some of the speakers are U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Mexican Secretary of Finance andPublic Credit Agustín Carstens, Canadian Minister of Environment Jim Prentice,and other high-level government representatives from the Western Hemisphere. The Annual Washington Conference on the Americas is the premiere forum on regional policy. The 39th Washington Conference will focus onstimulating regional growth and development in the context of the current economic downturn. Attached are the media advisory of the Conference and the FinalAgenda (Luncheon Speaker is OFF the record, no press will be allowed) Date and address: Wednesday, May 13, 2009. U.S. Department of State. 2201C Street, NW, Washington DC For more information, pleasecontact Michelle Morton at the Washington Office at mmorton@as-coa.org or(202) 659-8989.  
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May 11, 2009- Editorials - THE MIAMI HERALD - Encouraging Signs on Achieving Free Trade

OUR OPINION: President Obama must use political capital to win approval for pacts.
Sometime in the last few weeks, the Washington logjam over negotiating a free trade agreement with Colombia and other countries appears to have broken, at long last. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk has signaled that the Obama administration is ready to move forward on these long-stalled pacts. He then warned against ''setting the bar too high'' in working out pending issues between the United States on the one hand, and Panama, Colombia and South Korea -- all of whom have pending trade deals in Congress.

Although it is too early to declare victory in the effort to overcome the protectionist sentiment that has kept these agreements bottled up in Congress, these are the most encouraging signs thus far that the administration is committed to promoting free trade. Many Democrats in Congress and their allies in the labor movement remain skeptical about the usefulness of free-trade agreements. Still, President Obama, who talked tough against special trade pacts during the campaign, appears to have decided as president that their virtues far outweigh their liabilities.

Trade with Colombia is a particular concern because it is a proven ally of the United States in the volatile Andes region of Latin America. Under President Alvaro Uribe, Colombia has made significant strides in stabilizing the country's political, economic and security situation.


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May 11, 2009- News Clips - REUTERS - U.S. to push aggressive Latam trade agenda

Doug Palmer - The United States wants to expand trade ties with Latin America and is looking to Brazil to help bring long-running world trade talks to a close by offering deeper cuts in its manufacturing tariffs, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said on Friday.
"We're looking forward to really developing an aggressive trade agenda, opening markets not just (in) the United States, but also two-way trade, because that's going to be key to the economic prosperity of the entire hemisphere," Locke told the Reuters Latin American Investment Summit. Locke said the global economy may be turning the corner on the financial crisis that caused trade flows to plummet in the Western Hemisphere and around the world.

"I think clearly we're going to continue to feel the effects of the financial crisis on trade," Locke said, but added "we are starting to see things bottoming out." The United States is a top destination for exports from many countries in Latin America.
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May 7, 2009- Press Releases -     The British Government has not suspended the military aid to Colombia, Minister Santos . Minister of Defense, Juan Manuel Santos, said on Wednesday that the British Government has not suspended military aid to Colombia, but that these resources have been redirected. "The United Kingdom announced that it will redirect some resources which were destined, among others, to fund a center against landmines and to support other activities. But the total amount hasn’t decreased," he said. The official recalled that several weeks ago the British  Government approached  the House of Commons to express concern about the issue of extrajudicial killings. The Colombian Government sent a letter through the Ambassador in London, Noemi Sanin, explaining the actions taken in the security forces to continue strengthening  the policies concerning the respect for human rights. Additionally, Santos added that there are political groups and organizations interested in discrediting the security forces of Colombia and the government of President  lvaro Uribe Vlez. "These are pressure  and political groups that will be against the Colombian security forces of Colombia and President Uribe's government no matter what" said Minister of Defense.    Statement - Embassy of Colombia in the United Kingdom The Embassy of Colombia in the United Kingdom reports: 1. On March 30, the British State Secretary, David Miliband, reported to the Parliament how the cooperation budget for Colombia would be assigned. 2. The report expressed satisfaction with the outcomes and impact the U.K.cooperation has had in Colombia. 3. It stressed the determination of the Colombian government to combat terrorist groups within the framework of international law and condemned those organizations that continue to violate human rights. 4. When referring to the budget, it reported a 500 % increase on the resourcesto fund cooperation, primarily assigned to support: The fight against drugs which will be continued while recognizing that significant progress has been achieved. Environmental Issues and Climate Change, which have, for the first time, been included. The programs against Land Mines. The fight against impunity and strengthening of the Justice system. Programs in defense of human rights through multilateral agencies, the promotion of civil society and the support of human rights advocates. 5. While concluding the plan in support of the human rights programsat the Ministry of Defense, those resources were reoriented and expanded to be invested through UN programs. 6. The Minister of Interior to Fight Organized Crime, Alan Campbell, will travel to Colombia between May 4 and 7, to express support for the successful  performance of Colombia in the fight against drug trafficking. 7. The Foreign Affairs Minister, Gillian Merron, will visit Colombia between May 20 and 23, to reaffirm the excellent relations between Colombia and the United Kingdom and to convey  a message of support for the Colombian government and the programs above mentioned. Related Article - British aid to Colombia will not be suspended but redirected (from EL TIEMPO Newspaper)     The announcement was made vice minister of the interior of the United Kingdom,Alan Campbell, after a meeting with Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos.  At a press conference, the official assured that the conclusion of a program aimed to support the Colombian military has nothing to do with the investigations of human rights that are being developed.According to Campbell, this program was scheduled to end. Nonetheless, British cooperation with Colombia will continue and embrace new programs in other areas.   He explained that while the issue of human rights in Colombia is very important for the British Government, they remain respectful of the Colombian autonomy to further investigate the cases that have been reported. One of the new areas of cooperation between the two countries, is the fight against impunity Our approach aims to redefine the policies related with the fight against impunity, the official announced at the press conference. According to this statement, the United Kingdom will invest a quarter of a million pounds to the fight against impunity in Colombia.   Regarding the British cooperation with the Administrative Security Department, DAS, eyed recently due to illegal wire tappings, Campbell confirmed his countryis carrying out a close analysis, always respectful of the ongoing investigation in Colombia.   Campbell also highlighted the reduction of illicit drug shipments from Colombia to the United Kingdom, mainly due to successful seizures. On the other hand, Vice President Santos restated the zero tolerance policy regarding the extrajudicial killings.   "Any official of the security forces who breaks the law and violates human rights will be prosecuted relentlessly," said Santos.    
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May 7, 2009- News Clips - THE WEEKLY STANDARD - A Welcome Shift

Obama appears to be moving in the right direction on free trade with Latin America.

By Jaime Daremblum - In recent weeks, the Obama administration has quietly done an about-face on free trade with Latin America. On April 20, U.S. trade czar Ron Kirk told reporters that President Obama did not think it would be necessary to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This marked a reversal from Obama's campaign pledge to "make sure that we renegotiate" NAFTA. Speaking at the Georgetown University Law Center three days later, Kirk said "there is strong bipartisan support for the pending free trade agreement (FTA) with Panama," which he is working to complete. Kirk indicated that he is also reviewing the pending free trade agreement with Colombia, in hope of finding "a way forward." Obama had opposed both of these trade deals during the campaign.
Critics may attack the president for flip-flopping on trade, but this is a most welcome flip-flop. Seeking a renegotiation of NAFTA would have poisoned U.S. relations with Canada and Mexico. (Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper applauded Obama's switcheroo on NAFTA, pronouncing himself "delighted" at the decision.) And rejecting the trade pacts with Panama and Colombia would have been a diplomatic disaster for Obama; indeed, it would have given all Latin countries ample reason to doubt his commitment to the region.

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May 6, 2009- Editorials - IBD - Free Trade Makes a Comeback

Commerce: Like crocuses blooming after a harsh winter, polls suddenly show a dramatic rise in support for free trade. This bodes well for an acceleration in the direction the Obama administration is headed.
Last July, the outlook was absolutely bleak for free trade. As a recession hit in 2008 and imports posted the steepest drop since 1942, the American public looked as if it were hibernating from world engagement. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll then showed 51% of Americans saw foreign trade as an economic "threat." Radical activists and big labor unions, both foes of free trade, couldn't stop crowing. Things have changed. A CNN/Opinion Research poll conducted April 14-21 found that free-trade deals between the U.S. and other countries are now seen as "a good thing," by a margin of 44-35.

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May 4, 2009- News Clips - WASHINGTON TRADE DAILY - A "Colombia" Process




The Obama Administration and Colombian officials have agreed to establish a process to resolve the issues standing in the way of approval of the free trade agreement between the two countries - but the White House is offering no timetable for action, Colombian Trade Minister Luis Guillermo Plata said Friday  (WTD, 5/1/09).
The White House and Congressional leaders have yet to provide any specifics on what Colombia must do to win approval of the FTA. Instead, the two governments have agreed to set up teams that will sit down in the next few weeks to start hashing out an agenda and timeline for moving forward, Mr. Plata told reporters.
The Obama Administration has said it wants a clear set of"benchmarks" for progress on issues like violence against labor leaders - that must be resolved before it could send the trade pact to Capitol Hill for a vote.  Mr. Plata acknowledged that Colombia still has a ways to go on the violence and impunity problem, although significant progress has been made by the Uribe government.
The Colombian official said he came to Washington with no expectations of getting any specifics on the outstanding issues.  He said it is too early in the process of working with the new Administration to be talking details. The minister spoke to reporters at an event hosted by the National Foreign Trade Council.

Will Find a Way Out
But Mr. Plata said he sensed a willingness from the Administration and key Congressional lawmakers to find a way to work out the problems and get the FTA passed.  We can see that there’s a will to sit down and set up an agenda, define some topics and try to resolve the situation, he commented.
Mr. Plata, who met Friday with US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, said the Administration did not suggest renegotiation of the pact.  Bogota does not believe reopening the trade pact - negotiated by the Bush Administration - is necessary to resolve the outstanding issues.
The minister also met with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman CharlesRangel (D-NY) and trade subcommittee chairman Sander Levin (D-Mich).
Colombia is hoping for approval of the FTA this year, Mr. Plata said.
The Obama Administration has signaled it expects to move first on the US-Panama FTA (WTD, 5/1/09).  US and Panamanian officials met last week to settle some outstanding issues related to Panama’s labor and tax laws.
Separately, the White House on Friday announced establishment of a inter-agencycommittee on trade in timber products under the US-Peru FTA (WTD, 1/19/09). The committee will oversee implementation of provisions contained in thetrade pact aimed at combating illegal logging.

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May 1, 2009- Press Releases -     After the first day of his visit to Washington, Minister of Commerce and Tourism, Luis Guillermo  Plata said  "We have held very positive meetings with Congress Members , Administration officials and private sector representatives. The agenda of this first trip is very valuable insetting an path forward to continue working on the adoption and implementation of the FTA, which benefits both countries." Minister Plata  met with several businessmen and investors, as well as BusinessWeek magazine - which  two years ago chose Colombia as the number one emerging market in the world. He also spoke with Dan Restrepo , Director for the Western Hemisphere in the National Security Council, to continue discussing the agenda of both countries. Minister Plata also had the chance of talking to Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX)and Connie Mack (R-FL),  who reiterated their willingness to continue supporting Colombia and the approval of the pending FTA. Finally, he held a positive meeting with Charles Rangel (D-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, who mentioned Ambassador Kirk’s posting at USTR as a very positive signal to continue discussing the FTA  and expressed he was expecting  to have news about the conversations developed between both Governments. On Thursday night, Minister Plata will lead a discussion organized by the Embassy of Colombia, the International Economic Alliance (IEA) and Proexport, in order to present the country's transformation, focusing on the investment opportunities Colombia has to offer.  This presentation aims to continue strengthening the productive dialogue with entrepreneurs and potential investors. On Friday, Minister Plata  will hold meetings mainly with Administration Officials. It will start with a meeting with Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke,followed by a reunion with the United States Trade Representative, Ron Kirk,appointed by President Obama to make progress on the FTA with Colombia. Later he will hold a meeting with the National Foreign Trade Council, and a conference at the United States Chamber of Commerce.  In the afternoon, Minister  Plata will meet with Nancy Lee, Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere from the Treasury Department. "It is important to hold meetings with various people in the Administration, Congress and the business community to continue building and strengthen relationships and to persist  on the efforts for the benefit of both countries," concluded Minister Plata. DETAILED AGENDA 9:30 a.m. Meeting with Gary Locke, Secretary of Trade and Frank Sanchez, Assistant Secretary for International Trade 10:30 a.m. Meeting with Ambassador Ronald Kirk, USTR 12:30 p.m. Meeting with National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) 2:00 p.m. Meeting with U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Latin America Trade Coalition (JohnMurphy) 3:00 p.m. Press Availability 3:45 p.m. Meeting with Nancy Lee, Deputy Asst. Secretary, Western Hemisphere, U.S. Department of  Treasury See Gallery 
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April 30, 2009- Press Releases -     Foreign Affairs Mminister, Jaime Bermudez Merizalde,  called his counterpart Nicolas Maduro, to ask for the support of Venezuelan authorities  to capture the terrorists members of the Farc that killed eight soldiers in the mountain of  Perijá and escaped to take refuge in Venezuelan territory. "I spoke with Chancellor Maduro at 2 a.m. Italian time. He was in Cuba, and expressed he had talked with President Chavez and received the Colombia request with great attention, " said Minister Bermdez. The attack occurred at 4:20 a.m. at the site known as Cerro Templao, jurisdiction of the Perijá Mountains in the department of La Guajira. In this location, a group of soldiers working on deactivating a minefield planted by Farc terrorists, were attacked. During the attack, soldiers Luis Mercado Rojas, Carlos Eduardo Gonzalez Ortiz, Deyvis Jimnez Redondo, Jefferson Redondo Movilla, Deim Saavedra Gámez, NelsonRojas Hurtado, Nelson Peláez Erayu and Jos Ren Vega López were killed.  Soldier Jaidar Hernández Marriaga was wounded.  
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April 29, 2009- Press Releases -     Last year, over 2,000 visitors attended an open house at the Residence of the Embassy of Colombia during Washington’s Passport DC.  This Saturday, May 2nd, Colombia will participate again in Passport DC and from 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. our doors will be open to share with all visitors the beauty, the art, the music, the cuisine, the images and the biodiversity of our country. Come and join us, and as you walk through the Residence, enjoy a sweet treat and learn more about Colombia’s rich culture by taking a moment to view the videos playing in the ballroom. We are proud to share the sights, sounds and flavors of Colombia, a country full of surprises in our beautiful Residence in the United States,built by the renowned architect Jules Henri de Sibour, a descendant of Louis XVI, in 1906. The house is the perfect setting to showcase the diversity and richness of Colombian culture. Time:            10 am  3 pm Location:      1520 20th Street, NW Metro:            Dupont Circle (Red line) Admission:  Free A Message from Ambassador Carolina Barco Welcome to the Residence of the Embassy of Colombia. We open our doors so you can get to know and enjoy the sights, sounds and flavors of Colombia, a country full of surprises. We are proud to be the oldest democracy in Latin America and a significant player in the region, as we have the third largest population and the fifth largest GDP. Our Residence in the United States was built by the renowned architect Jules Henri de Sibour, a descendant of Louis XVI, in 1906. The house is the perfect setting to showcase the diversity and richness of Colombian culture. Sights, Sounds and Flavors of Colombia brochure. See Gallery One    
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April 29, 2009- Press Releases - From Madrid, the Head of State asked the international community to redefine the way to face drug trafficking, after pointing that drug is legalized in the way that use is allowed. He reiterated that the decision of penalizing the use of drugs is compatible with prevention and rehabilitation public policies. President lvaro Uribe confirmed this Wednesday his call to all the countries of the world, to make an efficient contribution to fight drug trafficking. During the ceremony where the President received the Freedom Award Cortes de Cádiz, from the Cadiz mayoralty, for his effort defending freedom and his progress fighting terrorism, the Head of State pointed that the world must redefine the way to face drug trafficking. We need more help from the entire world, especially from Europe, to be able to fight drug trafficking, which is finally the enemy of freedom, stressed the Leader. In addition, he asked for reflection around drug trafficking, because in his concept there has been an erroneous debate. Many say that drug must be legalized, in order to eliminate crime from the business. I think that drug is legalized in the way that its use is allowed, Uribe explained. And he added, that is not coherent that while production and trafficking of drugs are been fight, at the same time the laws of some countries allows its use.  How do you understand that we make a huge effort to end with crops, with chemical precursors, to confiscate possessions acquired with drug money, to extradite drug traffickers and, at the same time,  have to deal with drug use, because our legislation as well as others, are permissive and don’t declare the use as illegal, he said. About it, Uribe said that Colombia has had some problems fighting illegal drugs while use is still allowed. What can a Judge do, if he can not take a dealer to jail, because the only thing that he can find is his legal personal dose?, the Leader asked. As he highlighted the approval by legislative, in first debate, of the law project that penalizes drug use, Uribe assured that this initiative is totally compatible with the rehab and prevention policies that the government must enforce.  Yesterday the Congress of Colombia, in the first of eight debates, approved to declare the use of drugs also illegal. We must make a warning: the fact that use could be illegal does not mean that rehabilitation and prevention policies are going to be abandoned. The decision of make use illegal is compatible with prevention and rehabilitation policies the Head of State finished. 
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