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Deputy Secretary Steinberg meets with Preside Uribe and signs Action Plan on Racial and Ethnic Equality

Deputy Secretary James B. Steinberg met today with President Uribe at Ubérrimo Ranch.  They had a very productive meeting, during which they discussed the current state of their bilateral relationship and how they envision the relationship developing in the future.  Thereafter, Deputy Steinberg signed an Actional Plan on Racial and Ethnic Equality with Foreign Minister Jaime Bermúdez.

Recognizing that ethnic and racial diversity has been a crucial element in the development of democratic and multicultural societies, the United States Government and Colombian Government developed the Action Plan on Racial and Ethnic Equality. This plan seeks to eliminate forms of racial and ethnic discrimination in both societies.  It focuses on sharing best practices and implementing cultural programming to address racial discrimination and related issues affecting under-represented racial and ethnic minority communities, particularly Afro-Colombians. The plan establishes a joint Steering Committee which will discuss a variety of important subjects, including: Education, Culture, Housing, Health, Employment and Labor, and Anti-discrimination legislation.

The Action Plan on Racial and Ethnic Equality builds on the work of the 2007 Intersectorial Comission for the Advancement of the Afro-Colombian, Palenquera and Raizal People, as well as the numerous programs funded by U.S. Embassy Bogotá targeting Afro-Colombian and Indigenous populations.  Most notably, since 2008, USAID has allocated $15 million for the Productive Ethnic Territories (TEP) program to create income and employment generating activities.  The U.S. government also funds several exchange and scholarship programs in Colombia, including Martin Luther King Fellows, College Horizons, and the Fulbright Leadership Program.

During the rest of Steinberg’s visit, he will meet with Colombian government officials, civil society and human rights groups, and representatives of the private sector to determine how the bilateral relationship can be strengthened and to ensure that prosperity is broadly shared among both Colombian and U.S. citizens.

 


U.S. Ambassador Meets with Indigenous Group

U.S. Ambassador William R. Brownfield met with representatives from ONIC, the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia on January 15, 2010. The Ambassador expressed his concern over the violence against the indigenous population around the country and appealed to the illegal armed groups to put an end to forced recruitment of indigenous children.

“The forced recruitment of indigenous children by illegal armed groups is a violation of International Humanitarian Law and the expression of indifference towards the most basic standards of human values,” said the Ambassador. “We appeal to all illegal armed groups to put an end to this practice,” he added.

The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia was founded as a response of the Consensus of Colombian indigenous communities and people during the First National Indigenous Congress in 1982. Its political platform is based on Unity, Land, Culture and Autonomy.

 
 

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