President’s re-election boosts peace-talk hopes in Colombia

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Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, won a second term on Sunday with an election victory that allows him to continue peace talks with Marxist guerrillas to end a half-century war.

Santos beat rightwing challenger Óscar Iván Zuluaga with about 50.8% of the vote after a bitter campaign that challenged voters to decide between the incumbent’s pursuit of negotiated peace or a likely escalation of combat under Zuluaga.

Zuluaga trailed with about 45.1% of support. Votes had been counted from more than 98% of polling stations, meaning Santos’s victory was secure.

His re-election comes as a relief to his backers as well as traditional rivals from the left who backed the peace talks and feared they could have been jettisoned by Zuluaga in favour of trying to end the long conflict on the battlefield.

Santos, who hails from one of the country’s most influential families, opened talks with rebel leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) in late 2012 to end a conflict that has killed over 200,000 people and forced millions more from their homes. He made peace hopes a key selling point throughout the campaign.

Although they have shown more progress than previous failed efforts, the peace talks in Cuba have been divisive. Zuluaga supporters fear a peace deal could hand the Farc leaders political power without punishment for their crimes.

Santos sought to capitalise on support for his peace effort this week by revealing preliminary talks had begun with the second biggest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN).

A victory for Zuluaga, 55, could have spelled the end of the peace process if the Farc rejected the tougher conditions he vowed to impose to keep talks going.

Colombia’s financial market were not rattled by the campaign because both candidates are considered business friendly. Colombia’s economy is one of the fastest growing in Latin America.

68a. Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas #Colombia #UNGA

El Presidente de #Colombia Juan Manuel Santos habla en la 68a. Sesión de la Asamblea en Nueva York hoy 24 en la mañana
(Septiembre 24 – Octubre 1o.) en vivo y en directo

Llegó la hora de la verdad para el diálogo, que se retoma el lunes

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Santos les dijo a las Farc que no son ellas las que ponen condiciones al proceso.

El Gobierno confirmó el pasado sábado que este lunes se reanudarán los diálogos de paz con las Farc, con el fin de continuar la discusión del segundo punto de la agenda, relacionado con la participación política.

Tras una reunión de casi una hora con los líderes de su equipo negociador –en la Casa de Nariño–, el presidente Santos ordenó que se reanuden mañana mismo las conversaciones.

Así lo informó Humberto de la Calle, jefe de los negociadores, quien enfatizó que se “constató” que la guerrilla tiene la disposición de retomar las conversaciones.

“Tras una evaluación se constató rigurosamente que las Farc han tomado la decisión de regresar el lunes, a las 8:30 de la mañana, a la mesa de conversaciones, para continuar normalmente con las deliberaciones”, precisó el exministro.

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Colombia cattle ranchers fear ‘communist’ redistribution of lands after FARC deal

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Colombia’s federation of cattle ranchers, representing the country’s large land owners, on Friday rejected a recently made agrarian deal with the FARC that according to the agricultural businessmen includes Venezuela-like expropriations of private property.

Jose Felix Lafaurie, president of FEDEGAN, said the joint report from the negotiating table in Havana “generates more questions than answers,” and opens the door to legally acquired land being expropriated.

His letter to chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle Lombana also warns that FARC and other illegal armed groups are concentrating land ownership, saying that ranchers will not accept losses of land while illegal groups benefit.

Lafaurie is a loyal ally of former president Uribe and strong critic of Santos. Mired in corruption scandals several times, he has managed to continue his political career while also running significant business interests of his own.

While Lafaurie accepted that illegally taken land should be returned, his letter expressed concern that the ability to expropriate legally owned, but unused lands to give it to small farmers would “open a Pandora’s Box” in which legal land owners would become targets of a process in which the government agencies would have too much discretionary power.

However, FEDEGAN cattle ranchers have been accused of being some of the chief propagators of paramilitary violence in Colombia, and Lafaurie himself has admitted to FEDEGAN paying AUC paramilitaries, the main perpetrators of massive land theft.
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‘Si Farc no entregan armas, ¿para qué estamos conversando?': Santos

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El Presidente dijo que esa guerrilla debe dejar de pedir imposibles que no se les concederán.

En una de sus más duras respuestas a las Farc por las múltiples propuestas que han lanzado desde que iniciaron los diálogos de La Habana, el presidente Juan Manuel Santos aseguró este viernes en la noche que esa guerrilla debe dejar de “pedir lo imposible” y advirtió que si no dejan las armas pues las conversaciones no tienen sentido.

Desde Cartagena, donde lideró una ceremonia de graduación de la Armada, el Jefe de Estado subrayó que las Farc “dicen que de pronto no entregan las armas, eso es absurdo. Entonces, ¿para qué estamos conversando?”. Esto en clara respuesta a una entrevista que dio ‘Andrés París’, en la que dijo que la “foto” del desarme de la guerrilla “no la va a tener” el Gobierno.

Ante las múltiples propuestas que han lanzado las Farc, alejadas del espíritu inicial de la agenda de negociación y con la clara intención de impulsar reformas estructurales del Estado, el mandatario advirtió que “deben dejar de pedir lo imposible porque no se les va a conceder”.

“(Dijimos que) no íbamos a discutir ninguna política pública, ninguna reforma fundamental del Estado. Lo que íbamos a discutir son unas reglas de juego para que las Farc, y ojalá el Eln, cambien las balas por los votos. Para que cambien las armas por los argumentos”, precisó Santos.

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Almost all of Colombia to be online by 2014: Santos

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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that by 2014 almost all of the country will be connected by fiber optics “for training and the expansion of knowledge.”

Santos spoke at the opening ceremony of the XIV International Virtual Educa, a conference, exhibition and multilateral forum on education, innovation and ICT, taking place in Colombia’s second city Medellin, 2013′s most innovative city in the world.

The president said that by the end of his presidential term next year 1,078 of the 1,121 municipalities in the country will be connected, allowing communications and internet to reach some of the most rural communities.

“When we began our term in government, only 200 municipalities were connected with fiber-optics,” said Santos. The government also expects to have trained over 200,000 teachers in the use of ICT in the classroom by the end of 2013, that is up from 40,000 in 2010.

“At first there was an average of 20 students per computer [in schools], we should end this year with an average of 13 children per computer and in 2014, if we continue as we are, we should have an average of eight children per computer,” said Santos.

“Universal access to technology is the best guarantee that new generations close social gaps which have so far created educational differences,” said the president.

The event brings together representatives from 20 countries and highlights innovation, education, competitiveness and development.

Source: Colombia Reports

‘Buscamos que Farc sean fuerza política sin armas': De la Calle

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Gobierno ofrece garantías si diálogo de Cuba desemboca en conformación de partido de la guerrilla.

Este martes, en La Habana, el Gobierno y las Farc comenzarán a explorar los mecanismos para que la guerrilla dé un paso definitivo en el proceso de dejar las armas e ingresar al escenario electoral, tras 50 años de guerra.

Si el resultado es positivo, el debate sobre el segundo punto de la agenda de diálogo (participación política) podría sentar las bases de un movimiento desde el cual las Farc puedan competir, en las urnas, por los cargos de elección popular.

Para nadie es un secreto que la insurgencia tiene la intención de aspirar a concejos, alcaldías, asambleas, gobernaciones, Congreso y, por qué no, a la Presidencia. De hecho, su discurso de guerra se ha basado en la meta de “llegar al poder”. Ahora, desde la perspectiva de la paz, el Gobierno está dispuesto a dar las garantías para que ese escenario sea viable.

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Who are Colombia’s ‘enemies of peace’?

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Since the Colombian government initiated peace talks with the FARC, the phrase “enemies of the peace” has become a regular occurrence. However six months down the line, the question…

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No hay “ruido de sables” sino unidad en torno a Santos: General Navas

Gobierno invertirá este año más 117 mil millones de pesos en infraestructura turística

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• Dentro de estos recursos se incluye una inversión por 40 mil millones de pesos en infraestructura y productos turísticos destinados al Paisaje Cultural Cafetero en los departamentos de Quindío, Caldas, Risaralda y el norte del Valle.

• Este año se invertirán 11 mil millones de pesos más en la promoción turística de Colombia, dichos recursos pasarán de 29 mil a 40 mil millones de pesos.

Bogotá, 27 feb (SIG). El Presidente Juan Manuel Santos anunció hoy que este año el Gobierno Nacional invertirá más de 117 mil millones de pesos en infraestructura turística en el país.

Así lo dio a conocer el Mandatario durante la inauguración de la Vitrina Turística de Anato 2013, que se adelanta en Corferias.

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“Uribe tiene que entrar al proceso de paz”, dice Álvaro Leyva

El ex Constituyente Álvaro Leyva Durán ha sido protagonista de todos los procesos de paz que se han intentado con la guerrilla de las Farc y el ELN, desde hace 30 años. Conoció e interactuó con los comandantes de las Farc Jacobo Arenas, Manuel Marulanda Vélez y Alfonso Cano. Igualmente lo hizo con el cura Pérez, jefe máximo del ELN. Leyva tomó parte en los diálogos de Casa Verde en el gobierno de Belisario Betancur; en los de Tlaxcala, en el gobierno de César Gaviria, y en los del Caguán –a la distancia–, con el gobierno de Andrés Pastrana.

Leyva formó parte junto al presidente Juan Manuel Santos de la llamada “conspiración” contra el ex Presidente Samper, con la que buscaron un proceso de paz integral con las Farc y las Autodefensas de Carlos Castaño, a condición de la renuncia de Ernesto Samper, cuestionado por cuenta del Proceso 8.000. Pero también ha participado de iniciativas de búsqueda de la salida al conflicto, incluido el Proceso de paz del Caguán durante el gobierno Pastrana. Sin embargo, el presidente Santos no convocó a Álvaro Leyva a participar en las negociaciones de paz que comenzarán el próximo 17 de octubre en Oslo (Noruega) y tendrán como escenario La Habana (Cuba).
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Will we see the FARC in Congress?

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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos plans to allow the FARC to fight for seats in congress.

For many in Colombia the mere thought of a Timochenko in a position of power is enough to make the blood boil. How can a mass murderer enter parliament, they say? How can the families of the victims killed by the 45 years of terror be expected to react to the sight of this criminal pretending to represent the electorate?

They have a point, but however difficult it is to live with, we are going to have to get used to the idea of former combatants fighting for our vote.

President Santos confirmed as much in an interview with CNN while in the US last week.

In the UK they have grown accustomed to the site of former terrorists now in power, Following the Good Friday Peace Agreement of 1998, the IRA promised to disarm and began the process of choosing politics over violence.

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A new democratic dawn in Colombia?

Colombia may have one of Latin America´s oldest and longest running democracies but the criticism has always been that hers is a democracy only at the time of an election, that away from the physical act of voting, the society has very little involvement in the running of the country. 2012 is beginning to look like the year this began to change.

Citizen movements are growing more vocal and more active by the day, and what is more important, they are starting to achieve success, forcing the government to change policy and securing the resignation of key political figures.

The isolation of Álvaro Uribe?

¿Pero como así, mijo?

These are worrying times for Colombia´s ex-president Álvaro Uribe, as the political tide turns against him, the media deserts him, and the governing class close ranks behind President Santos.

Is Uribe in danger of losing his political voice?

Uribe is a politician used to the limelight, and unconditional support and loyalty. In 2010 he left power as Colombia`s most popular ever president. And despite the attacks on his government throughout the last two years, he has maintained a strong following not only among those who instinctively share his politics, but among the millions – particularly in rural areas – whose feel their lives improved significantly during the Uribe government as the FARC was pushed back.
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Peace in our time

Peace in our time - Colombia-Politics.comColombian President Juan Manuel Santos today set a timetable for an end to Latin America’s longest-running armed conflict announcing that peace talks with FARC guerrillas will begin in October and conclude within ‘months’.

At 12.30pm, to a television audience of millions and flanked by the nation’s military leaders and his cabinet, the president confirmed what for months rumours have dared to speculate; Colombia’s bloody and pointless war could be over next year (before the presidential elections of 2014).
Within the hour, FARC leader Timochenko, took to the airwaves from the safe-house of Cuba. With his professorial beard and camouflage livery the rebel chief spoke at length, spitting out his Marxist hatred, and in the end resigning to the reality that peace cannot be achieved by ‘war’ but only through ‘civilised dialogue’.

Frankly, the game is up for the FARC, and they know it; their dream of a Communist revolution is in tatters as Colombia develops into one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and as its people in record number are lifted out of poverty.

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FARC guerrillas initiate public relations war ahead of peace talks

Colombia’s FARC guerrillas yesterday released a video of combatants rapping about forthcoming bilateral peace talks with the government, the details of which President Juan Manuel Santos will confirm at 12.30 today in a special address to the nation.

The process will be long and arduous and the outcome is unknown, but this is the best chance for peace in the history of the near 50 year conflict.

If peace is the end game, this video, which attempts to present a humorous side to the brutal reality of this terrorist group, is the start of a fierce public relations war in which the battle is for the hearts and minds of the 46 million Colombians that make up this Andean nation.

A music video circulated yesterday in which FARC foot-soldiers appear in combat gear and t-shirts marked with the face of the Argentine revolutionary Che Guevarra singing along to a five minute parody of the peace talks scheduled to take place in October.

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Así se llegó al acercamiento con las Farc

Así se llegó al acercamiento con las Farc

El presidente Juan Manuel Santos liberó una paloma el martes, durante un evento oficial en Bello (Antioquia).

Empresario del Valle fue el enlace inicial. Viaje a Cuba, prueba de confianza entre Farc y Gobierno.

Apenas tres meses después de asumir su cargo como Presidente de la República, en agosto del 2010, Juan Manuel Santos inició contactos secretos con un empresario del Valle del Cauca, para que hiciera las veces de enlace con las Farc y ayudara a llevar los acercamientos entre las partes hasta el punto en el que están hoy.

El mensajero, que hasta hace muy poco pudo hacer su trabajo sin filtración alguna, mereció la confianza del mandatario porque en sus años de juventud fue compañero de bohemia de Jorge Torres Victoria, ‘Pablo Catatumbo’, miembro del estado mayor de esa guerrilla. (Siga este enlace para leer: lo que cambió desde el fracaso del Caguán).

Pasaron muchos meses en los que la comunicación de Santos con su interlocutor era discreta, directa e intermitente, pero con resultados: ‘Catatumbo’ había logrado interesar a otros miembros del secretariado en unos posibles diálogos.
Las cosas no eran fáciles para ninguna de las partes. En septiembre del 2010, el Gobierno había arreciado la ofensiva militar, al punto de dar de baja al jefe militar de las Farc, el ‘Mono Jojoy’, cerca de La Uribe (Meta). Construir confianza para proponer diálogos de paz no era una tarea muy sencilla. (Siga este enlace para leer: las agendas que han tenido los diálogos).
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Colombia’s Santos sacks his Cabinet to save his government

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Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos demanded the mass resignation of his cabinet Wednesday in an attempt to re-launch his flailing government, and kick-start the 2014 re-election campaign.
After a catastrophic few months for the president in which popular support for his administration has plummeted, and during which the FARC guerrillas reappeared as major players on political stage, Santos has decided that the fight back must begin.
The nation awaits news of the changes that Santos will make to his ministerial team, but the talk is that they will be wide-ranging and dramatic.

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Juan Manuel Santos – a tale of two presidents

This is my piece published today on Colombia Reports to mark the second anniversary of the start of Juan Manuel Santos’ presidency.

Juan Manuel Santos - a tale of two presidents by Kevin Howlett from Colombia-Politics.comColombian President Juan Manuel Santos appears to be loved abroad but is dangerously close to becoming loathed at home.We are halfway through the four-year mandate and the president’s support is plummeting at an alarming rate. Approval ratings stood at 87% less than a year ago while they now hover below the 50% mark.
The international community thinks so highly of Santos — the shuttle-diplomacy president — that there is talk of his becoming the next U.N. Secretary General.
The contrast at home could not be starker however, with a poll by El Tiempo newspaper this weekend revealing that over 60% of Colombians would not again vote for Santos.
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Uribe’s opposition a gain for Colombia’s democracy by Colombia Reports

Editorial by Colombia Reports

The rift between Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos and his predecessor Alvaro Uribe is a welcoming step in Colombia’s development as a democracy.

Colombia may almost always have officially been a democracy, but the quality of the country’s democracy has traditionally been very low when measuring along the lines of participation, representation, accountability, transparency and solidarity.

Add the fact that power struggles in Colombia have long gone hand in hand with violence, either through competition between political elites, the repression of opposition, or by violently trying to overthrow the establishment.

Colombia’s transition from an almost feudal system ruled by elites represented by two political parties to an actually functional democratic state is a work in progress and is long from being finished.

In order to reach a quality democracy, Colombia first had to break from a traditional two-party hegemony.

Before the 1991 constitution, Colombia was run, through pseudo-elections, by the Conservative and Liberal Party. Even though this hegemony was officially ended by the latest constitution and a number of armed opposition forces were included to the democratic process, it wasn’t until 2001, when Uribe came into the picture, that Colombia started breaking from its past.

First, Uribe broke from his Liberal Party to successfully run as an independent candidate, drawing support from several sectors in society and becoming Colombia’s first independent president.

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FARC leader returns from the dead to offer Colombians peace

Leading FARC terrorist Fabián Ramírez, thought to have been killed in an air raid in 2010, reappeared in public yesterday through a video broadcast by Caracol Television in which he appeared to offer Juan Manuel Santos’ government a way out of Colombia’s civil war.

During an interview with British journalist Karl Penhaul, Ramírez, the second in command of the Marxist guerrilla group’s ‘Southern Bloc’, is seen arguing for an ‘agreement (between the government and the FARC) to end the war’. Peace, he says, should be sought through dialogue and negotiation. Is he fooling anyone?

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Colombian Conservatives place President Santos on notice

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As the curtain raised on a new session of congress on Friday, Efraín Cepeda, the director of the Colombian Conservatives, warned of a ‘crisis’ in President Juan Manuel Santos’ National Unity coalition government. The leader of the second largest parliamentary force was speaking after a special meeting of his troops where their presence in this coalition was confirmed, but where it was also conditioned on big change.

Cepeda is exploiting the first serious signs of weakness in the Santos regime; the president is desperate to restore relations with congress, and is starting to look over his shoulder as Alvaro Uribe’s political party takes shape.

Many Conservatives are ideologically tied to Alvaro Uribe rather than President Santos and will be tempted, as we approach the pre-election cycle next year, to join his movement. For Santos the price of their continued support has risen significantly.
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Colombia’s Twitter revolution kills off another top public figure

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Colombia’s internet indignados have struck again, this time ending the career of Emilio Otero, the controversial Senate Secretary caught in the eye of the storm as the nation revolts against a congress they view as decadent and self-serving.

Otero yesterday morning announced he would not be seeking re-election to a post he has occupied since 2002 and for which he commanded an annual salary of over two hundred thousand US dollars.

The game was up as the hashtag #ChaoEmilioOtero trended earlier this week and as senators took to the airwaves to distance themselves from the man (fairly or otherwise) seen to symbolise the moral decay of the political class. Pushed out just two years after he was sworn in for his fifth term with 87% support from parliamentary colleagues, Otero’s life as one of the nation’s most powerful public administrators has come to an abrupt end.

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President Santos’ fightback?

It never rains but it pours

It is hard for a politician to admit failure or error. But President Juan Manuel Santos started this week by doing just that. ‘We got it wrong’, said Santos told the nation, and ‘there will be corrections’.

Next month Santos celebrates two years in power. For the first year the president enjoyed record levels of public support, often in the 80%s. This honeymoon is now well and truly over, and following a series of difficult political decisions and on the back of a growing opposition from ex-President Alvaro Uribe, Santos has slowly been slipping in the polls. By last weekend, however, support for Santos had, for the first time, fallen below 50%. Santos is 15 points below Uribe’s worst ever poll rating.

How will Santos fightback?

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Presidente Santos abrió la Bolsa de Nueva York

Santos es el segundo presidente de Colombia que toca la tradicional campana; el primero fue Álvaro Uribe, en el 2005.El presidente colombiano tocó la tradicional campana en el inicio de actividades de Wall Street.

La invitación fue promovida por el Council of The Americas, con ocasión de la entrada en vigor del Tratado de Libre Comercio entre Colombia y Estados Unidos.

Será la segunda vez que un mandatario colombiano protagonice este acto simbólico. El expresidente Álvaro Uribe ya lo había hecho en el 2005.

Además que visitar la Bolsa, donde pronunciará un breve discurso, Santos sostendrá reuniones con inversionistas y empresarios. Varios de ellos participarán en un almuerzo en el que el Jefe de Estado será el invitado principal.

Santos también aprovechará su estadía en Nueva York para conceder entrevistas a medios de comunicación.

Antes de regresar a Colombia, el Presidente visitará la Universidad de Brown, en Providence, Rhode Island, para acompañar a su hija María Antonia en su graduación.

“El presidente de la República de Colombia visitará la Bolsa de Valores de Nueva York y durante su visita participará en la ceremonia de apertura con las tradicionales campanas”, dice el comunicado oficial de la Bolsa de Nueva York.

La Bolsa resalta que el acto del presidente Santos se da 10 días después de que entró en vigor el Tratado de Libre Comercio con Estados Unidos que reducirá las tarifas de exportación de productos nacionales a Norteamérica y de esa nación hacia Colombia.

Los expertos esperan un incremento en el intercambio comercial y en la inversión de ese país en Colombia.

Colombia busca más inversiones de EE. UU. con el TLC

El presidente colombiano estará a cargo de reuniones con empresarios e inversionistas.

El presidente de Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, sostendrá las primeras reuniones en Nueva York con empresarios y potenciales inversi onistas estadounidenses tras la entrada en vigor el pasado 15 de mayo del tratado de libre comercio (TLC) entre los dos países.

Un comunicado de la Presidencia colombiana informó sobre la agenda del mandatario, que en un día se encontrará “con altos directivos de bancos, fondos de inversión y empresas con interés en el país, para promocionar los beneficios del acuerdo comercial”.

La visita de Santos comenzará con un desayuno de trabajo con ejecutivos de bancos y fondos de inversión como BlackRock, “el mayor administrador de activos del mundo, con un portafolio superior a 3,68 billones de dólares”.

En este encuentro participarán también directivos de Blackstone (activos de 19.000 millones de dólares) y Pimco (fondo con activos superiores a 1,7 billones de dólares), así como el multimillonario estadounidense Wilbur Ross, conocido por haber sacado a flote a compañías del sector siderúrgico y textil.

Después, tocará la famosa campana para dar inicio a la sesión de Wall Street. Negocios | Portafolio.co http://m.portafolio.co/negocios/colombia-busca-mas-inversiones-ee-uu-el-tlc

Alfonso Cano: el hombre detras de las gafas, la barba y el camuflado

La cumbre en la Casa de Nariño

La cumbre de Santos, Noemí, Rivera y Arias con Uribe no cambió las cosas

Foto: Archivo

El Jefe de Estado les reiteró a sus pupilos que no es partidario de perpetuar al Presidente.

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