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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April 29, 2009- News Clips - REUTERS - Colombia seeks path for U.S. trade deal this week

Doug Palmer - Colombia's trade minister will press the Obama administration and lawmakers this week to lay out a path toward congressional approval of a trade deal signed more than two years ago, a Colombian aide said on Wednesday.

President Barack Obama, who strongly opposed the agreement during last year's presidential campaign, recently asked U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to work with Colombia and Congress to resolve violence and human rights concerns that have blocked approval of the free-trade pact.  Colombian Trade Minister Luis Guillermo Plata on Friday will meet with Kirk, who faces a tough challenge in persuading Democrats -- particularly in the House of Representative -- to support a trade deal negotiated by former President George W. Bush and opposed by U.S. labor groups.

"We basically are open to listening to Mr. Kirk and how he envisions this process," said Sandra Ocampo, press secretary at Colombia's embassy in Washington. "What we expect is a ... path forward to continue working."

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April 28, 2009- Press Releases -     The Embassy of Colombia today announced that Minister of Trade,Industry and Tourism Luis Guillermo Plata will visit Washington, DC this week,from April 29 to May 1. On Friday, May 1, Minister Platawill meet with U.S. Trade Representative Ronald Kirk, following up on thedialogue held during the Summit of the Americas, as well as the recentstatements made both by President Obama and Ambassador Kirk regarding Colombiaand the relevance of the FTA. The purpose of the meeting is to establish apath forward to continue working together on the FTA and other issues ofinterest to both countries. This is Minister Plata’s first visitto Washington since President Obama took office. Therefore, the Minister’sagenda also includes meetings with other Administration officials, beginningwith Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce. The agenda also includes appointmentswith Dan Restrepo, Director for the Western Hemisphere of the National SecurityCouncil, and Nancy Lee, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphereof the Department of Treasury. Minister Plata will also hold meetings with policymakers on Capitol Hill,including House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) and theChairman and Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade Reps.Sander Levin (D-MI), who recently visited Colombia, and Kevin Brady (R-TX). On Thursday, Minister Plata will have meetings with U.S. business communityleaders, beginning with the International Economic Alliance, to explore theopportunities Colombia offers regarding foreign direct investment. He willaddress the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Latin America Trade Coalition onFriday. His visit marks another step in Colombia’sefforts to work with the U.S. Government to advance the U.S.-Colombia FreeTrade Agreement (FTA) and continue to strengthen relations between the twocountries.  
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April 28, 2009- News Clips - TIME- Postcard from Medellín

 
In a hillside classroom in Medellín, a group of teenage boys take crayons to long sheets of unfurled paper. One draws the detonation pin of a hand grenade. Another sketches blood splattered across a body. Scrawled words say what the pictures can't: Hunger. Kidnappings. Revenge. Displacement. Distress.
These boys, ages 14 to 19, are drawing the stories of their lives. They used to be members of Colombian guerrilla groups. Now, after putting down their arms, they are trying to rejoin civilian life.
"The biggest challenge is making them emotionally whole again," says Philippe Houdard, founder of the Miami-based Developing Minds Foundation, "to get them from being killing machines to normal human beings." The rehabilitation program, started in 2003 and supported by Developing Minds and Colombia's Family Welfare Institute, offers housing, recreation, counseling, schooling and vocational training to former child soldiers. The 31 boys here are among the nearly 3,000 minors who have given up guerrilla life under a 2003 government amnesty program. The guerrilla groups, formed out of the leftist peasant militias of the 1960s, continue to fight Colombia's government and rightist paramilitary forces but have been greatly weakened in recent years, defeated in battle and diminished by desertion. (See pictures of child soldiers around the world.)
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April 24, 2009- News Clips - Fonseca Scores One for the Home Team

Seven musicians backed Fonseca on Wednesday night at the Black Cat, but the Colombian singer's style was defined primarily by two instruments: accordion and electric bass. The room-rattling bass drove Fonseca's forays into the globalized sounds of trip-hop and electro-funk, also represented by the pulsating LEDs behind the stage. The accordion, which took by far the most solos, rooted the music in such traditional Colombian forms as vallenato. 
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April 23, 2009- Press Releases -     El Ministro deRelaciones Exteriores, Jaime Bermdez Merizalde;, y la Directora de Colombia es Pasión, María Claudia Lacouture, presentaron el mircoles 22 de abril el concurso Huella colombiana en el exterior. Esta es una iniciativa impulsada por Colombia es Pasión y el Proyecto RedEsColombia, del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones (OIM). Busca exaltar a aquellos colombianos que han dejado una buena imagen de Colombia en el exterior y que han trabajado por el bienestar de la comunidad. Si usted está interesado en participar o cree que algn conocido suyo puedehacerlo, tenga en cuenta los requisitos para postularse, algunos de los cuales son: estar registrado en www.redescolombia.org,ser colombiano residente en Estados Unidos de Amrica, tener reconocimiento en su comunidad, ser mayor de 18 aos, ser fiel representante de las buenas prácticas y el sentido de pertenencia por Colombia, y poseer reconocimiento en el ámbito deportivo, artístico, político, acadmico, empresarial o filantrópico. Una vez se cierre la fase de postulación, un comit integrado por las entidades organizadoras realizará una evaluación de todos y cada uno de los colombianos que se presentaron, con el fin de seleccionar los 10 nominados que serán sometidos al escrutinio de los votantes, quienes elegirán a los tres ganadores. Las votaciones se realizarán a travs del portal RedEsColombia, desde donde cualquier colombiano, dentro o fuera del país, podrá apoyar a su nominado favorito e invitar a otros colombianos a votar por l. Los electores contarán con toda la información de cada nominado, dentro de la que se incluye una foto, la descripción del porqu es merecedor del reconocimiento, la hoja de vida, y el porcentaje de votos que haya recibido hasta el momento, entre otros datos. El cronograma del concurso es el siguiente: Aperturade la primera fase de postulaciones: 22 de abril de 2009. Cierrede la fase de postulaciones: 15 de mayo. ReuniónComit de Evaluación: entre el 18 de mayo y el 1 de junio. Iniciode la fase de votaciones: 5 de junio. Cierrede las votaciones: 15 de julio. Eventode reconocimiento y finalización del concurso: 20 de julio. El reconocimiento se llevará a cabo en la ciudad de Washington D.C., en el marco de la celebración del 20 de julio. En ceremonia informal serán entregadas las estatuillas de reconocimiento a los tres ganadores del Concurso. Para másinformación sobre las bases del concurso, usted puede consultar  www.redescolombia.org/concurso    
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April 22, 2009- Press Releases -     On Thursday April 23,  Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos will deliver a speech at Georgetown University’s Center for Latin American Studies to discuss the Shared Responsibility Program, as part of Georgetown’s 2009 Colombia Week.   For the weeklong schedule of events, click here. About the Shared Responsibility Program      Colombia is an ecological treasure and protection of its natural resources is not only important to the country, but also to the world. One of the most hazardous threats to Colombia’s pristine ecosystems is the international drug trade. Drug traffickers’ use of harmful chemicals, their clearing of forests through slash-and-burn techniques, and other damaging practices are destroying Colombia’s flora and fauna,contaminating its water supplies, and depleting the nation’s environmental wealth. Over the past 20 years, Colombia has lost about 5.4 million acres of tropical rainforest to coca cultivation. For every gram of cocaine consumed, four square meters of rainforest are lost forever. To address this growing problem, Colombia has launched the Shared Responsibility Program, which raises awareness of both the social and environmental impacts of drug production fueled by high consumption levels abroad. For more information,  please visit http://www.sharedresponsibility.gov.co/en/ See Gallery      
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April 21, 2009- Press Releases -     "There's no other country that has taken the steps Colombia hasto improve respect for human rights, particularly in response to the so-calledissue of  extrajudicial killings," said Foreign AffairsMinister Jaime Bermdez Merizalde.  "We can think of no other countryin the world, where the President has demanded that his Defense Minister andother senior officers address complaints of violation of human rights on livepublic television." "I don’t know of any other country that has adopted such atransparent position on human rights," he said. "We have toimprove and continue our progress, and further achievements will come evenmore readily as our economy improves and we put the right tools in place. Trade and investment will help us achieve our goals and provide us withthe tools we seek to continue improving human rights. " Minister Merizalde recalled that Colombia, along with Switzerland,voluntarily submitted to the Universal Periodic Review on human rights by the UnitedNations. He also pointed out that President Uribe, used administrative proceduresto retire 38 members of the security forces, including two generals and threecolonels based on preliminary information  on cases involving allegedhuman rights abuse.  "The Colombian Government was the first to address the so-calledfalse positives cases, he continued Quoting the Minister of Defense, he said there have been no furthercases since October 2008. Minister Bermdez concluded by saying, "Colombia has takenall the necessary actions to promote respect for human rights and will continueon this worthy path. We are determined to move forward with our nation’sDemocratic Security Policy and fully comply with human rights protection."  
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April 21, 2009- News Clips - The Embassy of Colombia and Georgetown University  present the Colombia Week,  April 20  24, 2009

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Schedule of Events
 

Photo Exhibition: Barranquilla Carnival
April 20 - 21

ICC Galleria
All day

 
Come explore the photographic display by renowned Colombian photographer, Samuel Tcherassi.  The pictures come from his most recent book La Cumbia and celebrate Carnival in Barranquilla, one of the most important Latin American festivals next to that of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

 
Film Screening: Paraiso Travel
April 21
McNeir Auditorium
6:30 PM

RSVP: http://www12.georgetown.edu/sfs/rsvp/clas

 
Adapted from Jorge Franco’s acclaimed novel of the same title, PARAISO TRAVEL (which has broken box-office records in Colombia)is the story of Marlon Cruz (Aldemar Correa), a young Colombian man who, motivated by his girlfriend Reina (Anglica Blandón) leaves his comfortable life in Medellín and flees with her through Guatemala and Mexico, across the borders illegally into the United States.
Following the screening of the movie, Juan Rendón(screenwriter), Jorge Franco (author), and Margarita Rosa De Francisco(actress) will have an open discussion about the making of Paraiso Travel and the process of creating a movie based on a written novel, the moderator will be Chilean writer Roberto Brodsky.

 
 Photo Exhibition: Shared Responsibility
April 22 - 23

ICC Galleria
All day

 
Come to the ICC Galleria and explore photographic display on the environmental damage caused by drug production in Colombia.

 
Colombia Justice and Peace Law: Challenges and Results
April 22

ICC 301 McGhee Library
1:00 PM

RSVP: http://www12.georgetown.edu/sfs/rsvp/clas

 
Eduardo Andres Gonzalez Mora, former advisor to the High Commissioner for Peace of Colombia will discuss the peace policies that have been implemented in Colombia during the current presidency.  The lecture will include results from the demobilization of 31,000 former members of self-defense groups and the surrender of more than 18,000 weapons at the end of the peace process among the Colombian government and the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia.

 
Shared Responsibility
The Honorable Francisco SantosCalder
ón
April 23

Copley Formal Lounge
1:00 PM

RSVP: http://www12.georgetown.edu/sfs/rsvp/clas

 
Please join the Honorable Francisco Santos Calderón, Vice President of Colombia, in a discussion on the issue of shared responsibility in relation to narco-traffic. Who is really responsible and for what?

 
 Carlos El Pibe Valderrama
April 23

Harbin Field
7:30 PM

 
Come to Harbin Field to meet and compete with Major League Soccers’ 1996 Most Valuable Player.  El Pibe is the most capped player in Colombia and is considered to be one of the finest soccer players in the country’s history.  Be sure to ask for more information at the Colombian Information Table at Red Square  to learn more on how you can participate in the game with El Pibe.

 

 
For More information:

 
Colombia Information Table
Red Square
April 21 24
All day
Stop by all week at the information table in Red Square to enjoy a cup of free 100% Colombian coffee and learn more about one of South America’s most renowned countries

 
 

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April 21, 2009- News Clips - TIME - The Return of Bogotá

by David Kaufman - With civil conflict easing, and the cultural, culinary and nightlife scenes sexed up, Bogotá is emerging as an attractive destination for the first time in decades. Located nearly two miles high in the verdant Andes, the Colombian capital may be shrouded by balmy mountain mists, but it's shaking off a long period of isolation to reveal a sophisticated tableau of art, architecture and action. Cartagena the UNESCO-lauded seafront town an hour's flight north of Bogotá used to be the only place visited by many of Colombia's 2 million annual tourists. But Bogotá's beefed-up security means that visitors are no longer bypassing the capital in a hurry to get to the beach. Travel warnings still urge caution, but for visitors taking proper safeguards, a trip to Bogotá is finally on the cards.

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April 21, 2009- Press Releases -     Minister Plata will meet  on the last week of april with United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk in Washington Within the framework of the Summit of the Americas governments of both countries agreed to define a new agenda and give a new impulse to bilateral trade relations between United States and Colombia.  The announcement was made by Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Luis Guillermo Plata, who met United States Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, for the first time and agreed to a follow up meeting next week in Washington. By explicit order of the President of United States, Ambassador Kirk will resume pending trade issues with Colombia and for this purpose the technical teams of both countries will gather to discuss further issues. The most important point of the work ahead is the Free Trade Agreement which is expected to be approved this year, as expressed by the U.S. Government to the Colombian counterpart. Minister Plata said he senses better disposition to seek  ratification of the FTA,  as demonstrated during the meetings held in Port of Spain with some members of Congress, among which were Charles Rangel and Sander Levin. According to the statement made by the Colombian Minister, in addition to the meetings next week in the United States, a visit of President lvaro Uribe to the United States is also being scheduled.  On the other hand President Obama expressed his interest in visiting Colombia in his next official tour in the region. The Minister recalled that among the topics to be discussed will be the reduction of impunity, important  not only because of the FTA, but because the country is deeply  committed to reducing violence. In this issue Colombia has achieved significant progress in the past years..
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April 21, 2009- News Clips - CQ - Free Trade Returns to the Table

by Joseph J. Schatz - The Obama administration and trade advocates in Congress are trying to put a series of long-delayed trade pacts back on the front burner, despite widespread skepticism on Capitol Hill about the benefits of expanded international commerce.
On the heels of the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Monday that a delegation from Panama will visit Washington this week to try to resolve disputes over the U.S.-Panama trade deal. Kirk added that President Obama hopes to clear remaining obstacles to a separate pact with Colombia.
Ultimately, Obama who met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe during the summit believes that a resolution of the Colombia trade agreement would be a good thing for both economies, Kirk said.
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April 20, 2009- News Clips - WSJ - U.S. to Review Colombia, Panama Trade Pacts

 
By Tom Barkley - U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced plans Monday to immediately start reviewing the Colombia and Panama free-trade agreements to resolve the outstanding issues before the deals can be submitted for a vote in Congress. Mr. Kirk, speaking to reporters on a call to discuss the Summit of the Americas conference over the weekend, also said he believes the North American Free Trade Agreement could be improved without a full reopening of the trade pact.

"The president has said we will look at all of our options, but I think they can be addressed without reopening the agreement," Mr. Kirk said.
Strengthening the labor and environmental provisions of Nafta was a major plank in President Barack Obama's campaign last fall, but he has since taken a more pragmatic stance on the issue.
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April 20, 2009- Press Releases - After the closure of the fifth edition of the Americas Summit, the President of the United States talked to the press and told them it was easier to work with Colombia and Mexico, because they are solid partners of his country. In his statement, the American leader highlighted that is easier to work with countries as Colombian and Mexico, due to the relation that his government already has with them. In this hemisphere, as consequence of Summits like this one, it is easier for our friends like Colombia and Mxico, which are  also solid partners and allies, for example against drug trafficking, it is easier for us to work with them" said President Obama. In addition, the President of the United States repeated in his statement the respect his government has for democracy and press freedom in Latin American countries.   See Gallery
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April 20, 2009- News Clips - EL TIEMPO - Entrevista Embajadora Carolina Barco

En entrevista con Yamid Amat, la embajadora en Washington dice que alberga "la esperanza de que podamos avanzar" en la aprobación del tratado, y con ese ánimo trabajamos".

YAMID AMAT: Cuál cree usted que es el balance de la visita que acaba de realizar el congresista Sander Levin a nuestro país?

 
CAROLINA BARCO: l no conocía a Colombia y vino en plan de recibir información de todos los sectores sobre la situación del sindicalismo y de derechos humanos en nuestro país. Escuchó con atención al presidente Uribe sobre las conquistas que ha logrado la política de seguridad democrática.
Pero las centrales obreras le informaron lo contrario, es decir, que en Colombia siguen los asesinatos de líderes sindicales y continan las amenazas...

El Ministro del Interior tuvo ocasión de explicarle que el Gobierno creó un comit para la protección de personas amenazadas y demostró cómo el presidente Uribe se rene periódicamente con los sindicatos para escuchar sus quejas y solucionar sus problemas. Obviamente, todos quisiramos un país en paz.
Lea la entrevista

 

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April 16, 2009- News Clips - The Embassy of Colombia presents, The Making of Paraiso Travel: Immigration and the American Dream’

The Embassy of Colombia and the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University  present:

The Making of Paraiso Travel:  Immigration and the American Dream’
 
A conversation with Margarita Rosa de Francisco (actress), Juan Rendon (screenwriter) and Santiago Diaz (producer) moderated by Roberto Brodsky
 
Following the screening of the movie, Margarita Rosa de Francisco (actress), Juan Rendon (screenwriter) and Santiago Diaz (producer)  will have an open discussion about the making of Paraiso Travel and the process of creating a movie based on a written novel. It will end with an open session of Q&A.
 
 
April 21, 2009
6:30 PM
McNeir Auditorium, Georgetown University
3700 O Street, NW
Washington, D.C.
RSVP:  http://www12.georgetown.edu/sfs/rsvp/clas
  

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