September 30, 2004


Colombia's president cites progress: The president of Colombia touted progress at a Miami trade fair that brought together potential American investors and Colombian ventures. (MICHAEL A.W. OTTEY, 9/30/04, Miami Herald)

Midway through his term in office, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Vélez says that his country still has some pressing internal challenges but that it has made great strides, particularly with the economy.

During remarks to reporters at a trade forum Wednesday in Miami, Uribe proudly cited an 18.6 percent increase in exports as a hallmark of Colombia's growth.

The trade conference, titled Proexport Colombia, brought together more than 600 Colombian business ventures and 250 potential American investors at the Hotel InterContinental.

Maurício Gómez, trade commissioner for the Colombian Government Trade Bureau, called the fair important for both countries' economies. A similar one was held in Cartagena, Colombia, earlier in the year. Gómez noted that such companies as JCPenney, Gap, Sysco, Kmart, Old Navy and Be, Bath & Beyond had expressed interest.

''There are many expectations from both countries, as they are targeting to exceed the amount of business from the last event,'' Gómez said in a statement.

Last year, the United States, Colombia's largest trading partner, took in 44 percent of the South American nation's exports and sent 38 percent of its goods there.

The United States is also Colombia's largest foreign investor, providing an estimated $5.7 billion in direct investment, according to the Colombian Government Trade Bureau in Washington.

Colombia exports coffee, cut flowers, oil and petroleum products, bananas and other goods. It imports from the United States electronics, machinery and such agricultural goods as wheat and corn.

But Colombia is also the conduit for most of the illicit drugs that reach the United States. According to the State Department, 75 percent of the world's cocaine production and 90 percent of the cocaine that enters the United States comes from there.

Even on that front, Uribe said, there have been reductions. With the crackdown -- with help from the United States -- even kidnappings have been reduced, he said.

There's still a long way to go but President Uribe, an unsung hero, is forging a success in both the war on drugs and the war on terror at one of the key points where they meet.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 30, 2004 9:28 AM

I remember the "disaster" that Plan Colombia was going to prove - another new Vietnam. Of course, that was before 9/11.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at September 30, 2004 12:07 PM

This is nice, but Velez is targeted by Chavez for overthrow.

Time to pull an "Allende"

Posted by: BB at September 30, 2004 12:58 PM


In fact, I bet you can find a Kerry floor speech calling Colombia a new Vietnam.

Posted by: oj at September 30, 2004 1:27 PM

Colombia's relative success in a sea of demagogic socialism is quite remarkable. Chavez will do everything he can to undermine him however. He can expect no support from Lula or Kirchner.

Now if Lavin can boot Lagos out in Chile, maybe there'll be a chance for long-term progress in Latin America.

Posted by: Bart at September 30, 2004 2:08 PM