Cablegate: Ambassador Brownfield's October 25-26 Visit To


DE RUEHBO #7990/01 3121842
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E.O. 12958: N/A


1. The Ambassador visited Cartagena, capital of the
Department of Bolivar for meetings with government, private
sector, educational and religious leaders. His interlocutors
underscored that improved security had opened the door for
economic growth and expressed interest in deepening the
U.S.-Colombia relationship. Bolivar Governor Simancas
stressed the positive affect the U.S.-Colombia Trade
Promotion Agreement (CTPA) would have on Bolivar given the
department's strong manufacturing and shipping
infrastructure. End Summary.

Improved Security Fuels Economic Growth

2. Bolivar Governor Libardo Simancas told the Ambassador
that improved security created the potential for greater
economic growth in Bolivar department. He noted that in 2002
most of Bolivar's mayors were not able to live in the towns
they governed, and many municipalities lacked a police
presence. Today all mayors reside in their towns, and all
municipalities have a police presence creating the
fundamental conditions for increased private sector activity.

3. Governor Simancas noted the significant positive
influence on tourism after the USG adjusted the language of
the travel warning regarding Cartagena. He said the CTPA
would have a positive economic affect on Bolivar given the
department's strong manufacturing and shipping
infrastructure. Simancas also highlighted Bolivar's solid
financial condition, having paid off its debt of USD 91
million during his administration. Ambassador Brownfield
said he first visited Cartagena in 1980 and he could see the
many important improvements since that time.

4. Ambassador Brownfield then met students and faculty of
the Los Robles school (a former USAID project) and donated
125 books and other educational materials to the school. Los
Robles school serves the Nelson Mandela barrio, home to
thousands of displaced families. The Ambassador used the
event to showcase the USG's commitment to assisting displaced
and vulnerable populations through education, health and job
training programs. The Ambassador emphasized that improved
security permitted these programs to exist in areas where
they previously could not.

5. The Ambassador toured the port of Cartagena where
officials pointed to security as the reason for the port's
economic success. Jorge Cadena, president of the Caribbean
Shipping Agency, and Richard Rivadeneira, Princess Cruise
Fleet Inspector, explained that improved security will lead
to an anticipated quadrupling of cruise ships visits in 2007,
from about 50 to close to 200. Port General Manager Alfonso
Salas Trujillo expects the number of containers moving
through the port to also grow, from just under one million to
4 million, in the next few years. Salas said better
security, particularly through programs established in close
cooperation with the USG such as the Port Security Program
and the Container Security Initiative, facilitates this
increased port activity.

6. Lieutenant Colonel Hector Angarita Moncaleano, head of
the GOC's anti-narcotics police for airports and seaports,
briefed the Ambassador on the Port Security Program.
Angarita said police seized almost 8,000 kilos of cocaine at
the port this year. The Ambassador noted the increased
challenge of conducting thorough inspections without impeding
the flow of goods. Anti-narcotics police officials briefed
the Ambassador on the newly implemented Container Security
Initiative to detect and stop weapons of mass destruction
from reaching the U.S.

Broadening the U.S.-Colombian Relationship

7. In remarks to 200 invitees to the Cartagena American
Chamber of Commerce's 25th anniversary celebration,
Ambassador Brownfield highlighted the important role that the
Chamber plays in the U.S.-Colombia relationship. He
reiterated the USG's commitment to securing approval of the
CTPA as soon as possible, and emphasized his vision of
broadening the bilateral relationship beyond counternarcotics

and security to include deeper economic and social
cooperation. AmCham guests welcomed the prospect of
strengthened economic relations and the Chamber's leadership
underscored their willingness to work closely with the

8. In a meeting with Cartagena's Archbishop, Monsignor Jorge
Enrique Jimenez Carvajal, the Ambassador discussed
strengthening church social programs through three
mechanisms: involving U.S. business in church social
programs, finding ways to partner with USAID programs where
appropriate, and building connections with U.S. churches.
Monsignor Jimenez expressed interest, and mentioned that the
Archbishop of Atlanta had recently traveled to Colombia and
might wish to participate. He confirmed that the Colombia
Catholic Church was watching carefully what was happening
across the border, and was prepared to help the Venezuelan
Church if necessary.

9. Ambassador Brownfield met with Vice Minister of
Communications Daniel Medina and Manuel Martinez, Executive
Director of the Center for Telecommunications Research
(CINTEL), to discuss telecommunications priorities in
Colombia. Medina emphasized President Uribe's priority in
increasing access to the Internet in rural schools and
institutions. Director Martinez highlighted the potential
for Internet access to revolutionize educational and
healthcare opportunities in Colombia at a relatively low
cost. Ambassador Brownfield encouraged the GOC and CINTEL to
seek out partnerships in these areas with U.S. technology
firms engaged in corporate social responsibility.

10. Ambassador Brownfield visited the Universidad
Tecnologica de Bolivar, Bolivar's largest and most
prestigious private university to discuss how the Embassy
could help develop links with U.S. schools. The Ambassador
held a roundtable discussion with 50 students and faculty and
outlined his vision of ways to increase ties between the U.S.
and Colombia through economic, educational, and cultural
relationships. Students queried the Ambassador on issues
ranging from the future of Latin America to the prospects for
the CTPA. Ambassador Brownfield hosted breakfast for over
one dozen current and former Fulbrighters and proposed the
idea of resurrecting a Fulbright alumni association. The
Ambassador said Fulbrighters can serve as "cultural bridges"
between the U.S. and Colombia, and help support new
candidates for education in the U.S. The Fulbrighters
enthusiastically agreed and said they would begin developing
ideas to this end.

© Scoop Media

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