Search

 

Cablegate: Ambassador's Visit to Barranquilla, June 7, 2008

VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #2215/01 1712203
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 192203Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3223
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0583
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN LIMA 6281
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 1887
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 6947
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 4464

UNCLAS BOGOTA 002215

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

FOR WHA/AND

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL SNAR KCOM KAID EC CO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S VISIT TO BARRANQUILLA, JUNE 7, 2008

-------
Summary
-------

1. (U) Ambassador visited Barranquilla, Atlantico
Department, on June 7 to receive a major food donation funded
by the United States Agency for International Development
(USAID) and destined for the World Food Program (WFP).
Barranquilla Mayor Alejandro Char, Atlantico Governor Eduardo
Verano, and port President Fernando Arteta touted the
Barranquilla port as key to Colombia's international trade.
The commander of the port's Narcotics Affairs Section
(NAS)-supported Colombian National Police antinarcotics unit
briefed the Ambassador on local interdiction efforts.
American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) members voiced hope for
U.S. Congressional approval of the Colombian Trade Preference
Agreement (CTPA). During a visit to the Mars Colombia
factory, the Ambassador toured one of the most successful
U.S. foreign direct investments in Colombia. He also joined
a children's soccer game supported by a local civic group.
The Ambassador received universally positive media coverage.
End Summary.

-------------------------------
Outreach to the Most Vulnerable
-------------------------------

2. (U) The Ambassador received USAID's 1620 metric ton
donation of lentils, green peas, and vegetable oil and
ceremonially turned it over to the WFP in a ceremony with WFP
and local officials. USAID food donations are distributed to
the neediest populations, including the displaced, other
vulnerable groups, school children, and pregnant and
lactating women, in 200 municipalities. The Ambassador
highlighted President Bush's desire to increase the amount of
international food aid to $1 billion worldwide, and said the
USG already provides 50% of the world's food aid.

3. (U) Over 150 children from Barrio La Paz, one of
Barranquilla's poorest neighborhoods, turned out for a soccer
match hosted by Futbol con Corazon. Futbol con Corazon, a
local civic group, builds leadership, teamwork, and conflict
resolution skills through its innovate soccer program for
at-risk youth. Samuel Azout, founder of Futbol con Corazon
and the largest investor in Payless Shoes' expansion into the
Colombian market, highlighted the organization's commitment
to strengthening at-risk communities by working with children
and their families. The Ambassador's co-ed team of children
aged 10-12 won 2-1. The event got great press, with pictures
featuring the seriously sweating and out-of-shape Ambassador
playing soccer with the children and donating 100 soccer
balls to the teams.

---------------------------
Local Goals for Development
---------------------------

4. (U) The governor, mayor, and port president outlined their
goal to further expand Barranquilla's commercial relevance as
a port, noting the limitations faced by neighboring ports in
the tourist cities of Cartagena and Santa Marta. They
emphasized the city's capacity to handle increased trade
through its 23 sea and river port concessions. Mayor Char
outlined Barranquilla's road infrastructure, highlighting the
need for a beltway around the city. Governor Verano
presented a proposal for Atlantico and Texas to become
"brother states." The Ambassador recognized the similarities
between the Houston and Barranquilla seaports, and urged for
more outreach and exchange between the two cities.

5. (U) In discussions with the governor, mayor, and business
community leaders at a luncheon hosted by the port, the
Ambassador outlined goals for development in the coastal
region, including the CTPA, ongoing USG investment in English
language programs, assistance to increase flights between
Barranquilla and the United States, as well as help in
reviving the Caribbean coast's baseball league.

6. (SBU) The tour of the Mars Colombia facility in
Barranquilla's Malambo free trade zone highlighted how
foreign direct investment can positively impact local
communities. The 104 Mars factory workers earn, on average,
double what they earned prior to working for Mars. Mars
opened its Barranquilla plant (under the name Masterfoods) in
January, 2007 after initially considering investing in
Venezuela. The Mars facility produces pet food products for
regional distribution and is the regional distribution hub
for imported Mars candies.

---------------------------------
Interdiction at Barranquilla Port
---------------------------------

7. (SBU) Colombian National Police Captain Alexander Duarte,
the port's anti-narcotics unit commander, outlined the
challenges the interdiction unit faces in Barranquilla. He
said the majority of exporters using the Barranquilla port
are local producers known to the interdiction team. This
facilitates the investigation process, since his unit
regularly visits the exporters' factories and assesses their
in-house security systems. Duarte reported that many
exporters are satisfied with the rapid processing their goods
receive once they arrive in the United States, attributing
the expedited treatment to their active collaboration with
law enforcement in Colombia. He said his unit reviews 100%
of all shipments to Mexico, because the majority of drug
shipments are directed there. The port's largest
interdiction--seized on March 13--was a 4.2 ton shipment of
cocaine bound for Mexico.

--------------
PRESS COVERAGE
--------------

8. (U) Ambassador received outstanding print and broadcast
press coverage throughout his visit, with the highlights
being the food donation and the soccer game with local kids,
showcasing the Ambassador's extraordinary athletic skills and
USG soft side efforts to help the displaced. El Heraldo, the
main Barranquilla-based daily (liberal, circ. 256,900/Sunday
298,400) ran stories on both Sunday and Monday following the
visit. El Heraldo's coverage featured fantastic photos along
with the title, "William Brownfield, an Excellent
'Gambeteador'" (double meaning: Football-player and tough
question avoider). La Libertad, a small distribution daily
based in Barranquilla, ran the headline: "Brownfield, an
Ambassador with a Colombian Heart." El Tiempo (Colombia's
largest and most influential daily, centrist, circ.
1,198,000/Sunday 2,247,300) gave great play to the
significant donation of food to displaced and vulnerable
Colombian populations orchestrated by USAID. RCN TV (the
largest private TV network, audience 9,467,300) and other
broadcast outlets focused their coverage on the Ambassador's
response to the question of whether the Manta base would move
to Colombia. They quoted him as saying: "We are still
waiting for the final decision from the Government of
Ecuador."
BROWNFIELD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC