Washington, DC, october 12th, 2021 — On Monday, Colombian President Iván Duque met with American investor and businessman Howard G. Buffett, CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, one of the largest private charities in the United States.
The meeting took place at the Residence of the Colombian Embassy in Washington as part of the President Duque’s most recent visit to the United States.
After their conversation, they attended a dinner that was accompanied by a ceremony in which the President conferred Colombian citizenship to Buffett. Additionally, he was awarded Colombia’s “Grand Cross in the Order of Merit.”
Guests to the ceremony included Undersecretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Brian Nichols; National Security Advisor to President Joe Biden, Juan González; Congressmen Rubén Gallego and Jeff Fortenberry; Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bower; Andrew Steer, President and CEO of Bezos Earth Fund; the President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Deborah Rutter; Atlantic Council Vice President Adrienne Arsht; Nestlé Vice President Jean-Marc Duvoisin; and Judy Woodruff of the PBS NewsHour, among many others.
Howard G. Buffett Foundation
Buffett is the Founder, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, which was established in 1999.
The Foundation makes donations to different non-profit organizations that work to help vulnerable populations, address food security, mitigate conflicts and improve citizen security in countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Rwanda as well as within the United States.
Since 2004 it has supported needy and underserved communities in Latin America, a priority area for the institution with more than $500 million.
He also supports development efforts that benefit rural communities, especially small farmers, and believes the Foundation has an obligation to support America's neighbors.
Relationship With Colombia
The Howard G. Buffett Foundation has had a long and substantial philanthropic relationship with Colombia. To date, it has committed more than $140 million in charitable works to support social projects in the country.
Since 2016, the Foundation has supported humanitarian demining programs through a donation of $38 million to the Humanitarian Demining Brigade of the Colombian Army. This effort has recently been augmented by the donation of canine landmine detectors and radar equipment.
The Foundation's support for Colombia has even extended to small producers in the agricultural sector, engaging in initiatives to support farmers in Cauca, Nariño and more recently, in the community of Tibú in Catatumbo.
The Foundation's agricultural support in Colombia also includes programs to help farmers in Cauca and Catatumbo obtain property rights in exchange for voluntarily replacing their coca crops with legal crops in collaboration with the Foundation's NGO partner, Mercy Corps.
More recently, the Buffett Foundation has supported a $12.4 million initiative to fund training and employment opportunities for disadvantaged Colombian youth in urban areas of the country in collaboration with the Colombian government through APC and AmCham Colombia.
Support for the Sustainable Catatumbo Program
In addition, the Foundation assists in the comprehensive development strategy of the Colombian government, Sustainable Catatumbo.
Alongside collaborating in land formalization strategies for farmers in Tibú, it has donated about $16 million to the National Government through the Presidential Agency for International Cooperation (APC), the National Institute of Roads (INVÍAS) and the National Army Corps of Engineers to improve regional and tertiary roads around Tibú and the Catatumbo area.
Working with the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and other partners, the Foundation has also sought to provide humanitarian aid and other support to displaced people in Tibú.
The Foundation and its partners are now evaluating the possibility of developing a sustainable production project for the cocoa trees of Tibú, as well as improving the municipality's health system and security conditions throughout the area.