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Cablegate: Ambassador Brownfield,S December 13 Visit To

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #8640/01 3552120
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 212120Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0618
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 9697
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 5733
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 1003
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 6437

UNCLAS BOGOTA 008640

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAID PGOV MARR CO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR BROWNFIELD,S DECEMBER 13 VISIT TO
BARRANQUILLA


1. (SBU) Summary. The Ambassador visited Barranquilla,
capital of Atlantico Department on December 13 for meetings
with Governor Carlos Rodado, ranking regional military
Commander Colonel Carlos Bueno, and public outreach
audiences. Rodado expressed his support for the
U.S.-Colombian Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA) and his
presidential aspirations. The Ambassador participated in a
baseball clinic with Major League Baseball (MLB) star Edgar
Renteria, the inauguration of a housing project, and a tour
of the bi-national center, Centro Colombo Americano all
receiving extensive media coverage. Embassy delegation found
a city enjoying an economic boom fueled partly by capital
flight from Venezuela, an IDP population that has stabilized
over the last three years, high regard for its outgoing and
hope that the next mayor will be better than the incumbent,
and a general sense of optimism for the future. End Summary.

------------------------------------
ECONOMY EXPANDS AS SECURITY IMPROVES
------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Ambassador Brownfield met with Rodado (Conservative
Party) who will leave office on December 31. Rodado, who is
well-regarded for initiating a wave of investments in the
region, expressed his strong support for the CTPA. He
stressed that increased U.S. demand for manufactured goods
would create tremendous opportunities for his department. In
the past year, 110 companies either established or expanded
their operations in Barranquilla, generating 16,700 jobs.
This includes a large number of Venezuelan companies that
fled to Colombia in fear of expropriations. Rodado said that
Colombian and Venezuelan business sectors have a robust
relationship, dismissing Chavez,s threats to cut economic
ties with Colombia as unrealistic. Finally, Rodado declared
that upon departure he intends to pursue the Presidency of
Colombia. He said he feels as prepared as any other
potential candidate and noted that Colombia has not had a
President from the Caribbean region during the 20th century.

3. (U) Rodado also welcomed the Ambassador to the
Barranquilla American Chamber of Commerce, noting the strong
historical relationship between Barranquilla and the United
States. In his remarks, to the 100 luncheon guests, the
Ambassador called the Amcham one of the most important
pillars in the U.S.-Colombia relationship. The Ambassador
emphasized the USG,s commitment to securing approval of the
CTPA, and requested the Amcham,s support in explaining the
benefits to both countries. He further expressed USG
interest in broadening the bilateral relationship beyond
counternarcotics and security to include deeper economic,
education, human rights, humanitarian, and social
cooperation. The Ambassador concluded by stressing the
importance of corporate social responsibility programs.

4. (SBU) Colonel Carlos Bueno, Commander of Regional Air
Command three, gave the Ambassador a one-hour tour of the
regional Air Force facilities and briefed the Ambassador on
Colombian military operations along the Caribbean coast.
Bueno showed the Ambassador the new Brazilian made (with 60
percent U.S. components) A-29 Super Tucano combat aircraft.

---------------------------
OUTREACH AND MEDIA COVERAGE
---------------------------

5. (U) Ambassador inaugurated 200 new or refurbished homes
for displaced and vulnerable families in the Pinar del Rio
barrio of Barranquilla. A USD 280,000 grant from USAID to
the local NGO &Opcion Vida8 (Life Option) helped pay for
the work that benefited many Afro-Colombian families. The
Barranquilla mayors office, through the GOC,s Banco
Inmobiliario (Housing Bank) and the Office of the
President,s &Accion Social8, also contributed to the
initiative. Press coverage was substantial, and the event
was carried by most regional media.

6. (U) The Ambassador toured the Centro Colombo Americano
where he stressed his support for the bi-national center
noting that it serves as a nexus for educational and cultural
interaction, spoke with 30 English language students, and
held a live press conference with local media.

7. (U) MLB, the Amcham, and the Renteria Brothers, Baseball
academy hosted a baseball clinic for 60 local youth. MLB
star Edgar Renteria and the Ambassador threw-out the two
opening pitches, and both gave the youth signed baseballs and
hats donated by MLB International. The event, which included
many parents and media, provided an opportunity to draw the

link between U.S. and Colombian North Coast enthusiasm for
baseball. Ambassador,s pitch was a 90 mile per hour curve
that just caught the outside corner for a called strike.
Renteria, whose hit won the 1997 World Series for Florida was
grateful that he never had to bat against the Ambassador.
Brownfield

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