Colombian President visits Jamaica, Friday


Jamaica/Colombia relationship is expected to be strengthened through bilateral talks this week-end, particularly on the issue of national security, officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade have said.
Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, is slated to meet with President of the Republic of Colombia, His Excellency Juan Manuel Santos Calderon, on his arrival in Jamaica on Friday (November 19).
The Colombian President is expected for a two-day State Visit, November 19 to 20, at the request of the Prime Minister, during which he will also meet with Leader of the Opposition, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller. Mr. Golding had attended the President’s swearing-in in Bogota in August, during which talks began between them on strengthening bilateral relations.
Colombia’s experience in dealing with its own security-related problems makes the country an important partner for Jamaica, where security is high on the foreign policy agenda. It is expected that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Sharing of Financial Intelligence will be signed.
They also share strong relations on the subject of education, and President Santos is expected to address the UWI community during his visit. He will be met by Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, UWI Principal, Professor Gordon Shirley and Vice Chancellor, Professor Nigel Harris.
The Colombian Embassy and the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) concluded a co-operation agreement in 2000, which provides for reciprocal recognition of university degrees, certificates and academic grades.
Since 2001, students from the UWI have been participating in an exchange programme for language courses, and have benefited from the close collaboration between the Latin American and Caribbean Centre (LACC) at the UWI, and the Colombian Institute for Educational Credit and Technical Studies Abroad (ICETEX).
In July 2010, nine Jamaicans and 26 Colombians participated in the student exchange/language programme.
The Ministries of Education of Jamaica and Colombia have signed an MoU for a teacher exchange programme at the secondary and tertiary levels. The first exchange takes place January 2011.
The Colombian Government, under its “Co-operation Strategy for the Caribbean Basin”, has developed a training programme focusing on five key development areas.
Jamaicans who have benefitted from the first phase of the programme which started in 2009 include: food security and nutrition, (two); technical education, (15); bilingualism, (six); academic mobility, (one); and disaster prevention and risk management, (two).
Another highlight of the President’s visit will be his participation in a wreath-laying ceremony, at the statue of South American liberator, Simon Bolivar, at National Heroes Circle, Kingston. Bolivar, a Venezuelan military and political leader, played a key role in Hispanic America’s successful struggle for independence from Spain.
The Colombian President will also call on Governor-General, His Excellency, Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, at King’s House.
Jamaica and Colombia established diplomatic relations on February 24, 1965. The South American country has been an important partner at several levels: multilaterally, in the context of the G-77 and China, on development-related issues, as countries of the South, and regionally, in relation to the thrust to develop a greater partnership with Latin America; and bilaterally, in relation to direct co-operation between the two countries.
President Santos was elected President of Colombia in June, 2010. He is a politician, journalist and an economist. He is from one of Colombia’s most influential families. His great-uncle, Eduardo Santos, was Colombia’s President, 1938 to 1942, and owned the country’s largest newspaper, El Tiempo. His cousin, Francisco Santos, is the current Vice-President.
In 1991 he occupied the post of Foreign Trade Minister. In 1992 he was appointed President of the VII United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, a position he held for four years. He also became the President for the Economic Commission on Latin America, a position he held until 1995. In 2000, he was appointed Minister of the Treasury and Public Credit.
During his tenure as Defense Minister, 2006 to 2009, the administration dealt several blows to the FARC guerrilla group, including the non-violent rescue of former presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt, who had been held captive since 2002, and 14 other hostages.

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