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Promoting Mutual Understanding – Visits by U.S. Members to the Andean Countries

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A principal goal of the Andean – U.S. Dialogue Forum is to improve relations and deepen understanding between members, the public, and the governments from the United States and the Andean countries. One way to achieve this goal is through country visits by U.S. forum members to each of the Andean countries. These visits constitute yet another tool to promote a deeper understanding of each country's unique political, economic, and social situation while strengthening the personal relationships between forum members. On these trips, planned by the host country forum participants, two-to-three members of the American group meet with high-level representatives from various sectors of society in each country.

Read more about the trips:

Bolivia | Ecuador | Colombia | Peru | Venezuela

Bolivia (Aug. 9-10, 2010) 
U.S. members Eric Farnsworth and Kristen Genovese traveled to La Paz, Bolivia, where they met with U.S. Embassy representatives to discuss and analyze the work being done by the forum and the perceptions of the Bolivia-U.S. relations of the embassy representatives.  From this point of general overview, the members moved on to more interest-specific meetings – such as the Confederation of Private Businesspeople – where they discussed common economic interests and trade relations. Additionally, members met with respected political analysts and leaders of Bolivia's main political organizations where they heard different views about the functioning of the democratic system and its challenges.

The second day of meetings was held in the eastern city of Santa Cruz, where members met with members of the National Political Observatory and each participant expressed his or her views about relations between the two countries, touching on issues of anti-imperialist tradition in Bolivia, U.S. policy regarding criminalization of the coca issue, and the perception of unmet expectations of the Obama administration on policies toward Latin America.

Bolivia briefing book, Aug. 9-10, 2010 (PDF)

(Feb. 23-25, 2011): Due to scheduling conflicts, our third visitor to Bolivia was unable to visit in August, and a separate trip was planned for February 2011. U.S. member Rex Lee Jim also began his trip in La Paz and ended it in Santa Cruz.  His meetings reflected those of the prior trip with the addition of several meetings with different indigenous organizations and groups in both cities, where a rich exchange of experiences developed between Mr. Jim, who is the vice president of the Navajo Nation in the United States, and the representatives of the Bolivian indigenous groups.

Bolivia briefing book, Feb. 23-25, 2011 (PDF)

Read forum member Eric Farnsworth's blog entry on his visit to Bolivia (PDF)

Ecuador (July 20-21, 2010)
U.S. members of the forum, Joy Olson and Stephen Johnson, began their two-day visit to Ecuador in its capital, Quito. During a breakfast meeting with officials of the Ministry of Education and representatives of civil society organizations, both got a vision of the state of education as well as the intercultural issues that characterize the country.

They continued their trip with a visit to a farm that produces flowers for export, located in the province of Cotopaxi in the central highlands, where many large and small producers of value-added products that are exported to the United States can be found. The discussions with representatives from the rose, broccoli, medical herbs, and tea industries allowed forum members to address the importance of trade with the United States for the country's productive development. Both guests were also able to familiarize themselves with best private industry practices in Ecuador, implemented to meet environmental and social standards, as well as drug traffic control in exports.

During the second day of their trip, Olson and Johnson talked with specialists and policy makers about drug policy and security issues. They also had a meeting with government officials, legislators, and representatives of civil society organizations that offered a glimpse of Ecuador's migration policy and the impacts of migration in the Ecuadorian society. During a lunch with legislators, both guests had access to firsthand data about other issues related to foreign policy. The evening ended with a working session in which the Corporation for the Promotion of Exports and Investment (CORPEI), elaborated on trade policy issues and opportunities that can be enhanced under the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA).

The trip ended with a meeting with most of the Ecuadorian forum members, during which Olson and Johnson shared their impressions from the different meetings and exchanged ideas about possible future actions and recommendations.

Ecuador briefing book, July 19-21, 2010 (PDF)

Colombia (July 27-29, 2010)
U.S. members Coletta Youngers and Kelly McBride visited Colombia, where they began with a briefing on drug policy in the capital city of Bogotá. They were given a broad spectrum of opinion on this complex issue from academics, government officials, and military officers. The group next met with civil society leaders and government experts on human rights. Other topics covered on the first day included media, trade, development, immigration, and the environment. Whenever possible, U.S. members heard from the private and public sectors to get a diverse view of each area.

On day two of the trip, members received reports from government officials on poverty alleviation programs and internally displaced persons. Visitors also met with cabinet ministers from both the outgoing and incoming administrations to discuss foreign policy, security, and other issues. Finally, the U.S. members were given policy viewpoints from outside the government when they met with leaders of the political opposition.

Colombia briefing book, July 27-29, 2010 (PDF)

View U.S. members' trip observations

Read forum member Coletta Younger's blog entry on her visit to Colombia (PDF)

Peru (Aug. 11-12, 2010): U.S. members Marcela Sánchez-Bender and Kristen Genovese visited Peru where they continued discussions on matters proposed during the forum's second dialogue meeting, specifically focusing on economic growth and its relationship to poverty reduction, as well as environmental impact of economic activities and drug trafficking.

As part of their agenda, U.S. members met with Peruvian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Nestor Popolizio to discuss Peru's relations with its neighbors and the United States, and then discussed current political and electoral affairs with political analysts.  Eventually, visitors moved to northern Lima to see in situ the economic development and poverty reduction. Finally, discussions were held on drug trafficking and natural resources with members of NGOs as well as government organizations. In addition, Marcela Sánchez-Bender had the opportunity to meet with President Alan García for an hour in the Government Palace.

Peru briefing book, Aug. 11-12, 2010 (PDF)

View U.S. members' trip observations

Read forum member Marcela Sanchez-Bender's article in the Latin American Herald Tribune (PDF)

Venezuela (Nov. 17-18, 2010)
U.S. members Hattie Babbitt and John Walsh, together with the Director of the Americas Program at The Carter Center, Jennifer McCoy, visited Venezuela where they met with political representatives from both the government and the opposition, as well as with members of civil society organizations. U.S. members began their trip by having breakfast with a business official from the U.S. Embassy and then by meeting with the Venezuelan forum members.

Later, visitors met with the president of the National Anti-Drugs Office and the vice minister of foreign relations.  A discussion of politics was held with representatives from the political parties Mesa de Unidad Demócratica and Partido Patria para Todos. Finally, the group met with civil society organizations specialized in the promotion and defense of human rights, as well as with representatives from Ojo Electoral, an organization specializing in election monitoring, and the polling firm Datanálisis.

Venezuela Briefing Book, Nov. 17-18, 2010 (PDF)

View U.S. members' trip observations

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All photos: The Carter Center

U.S. Forum member Rex Lee Jim meets with CIDOB, the "Confederation of Indigenous peoples of Bolivia" with national representation by the 34 indigenous populations from the East.  These populations inhabit the region of Tierra Bajas, 7 of the 9 departments that make up the country (Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, Tarija, Chuquisaca, Trópico de Cochabamba y Norte de La Paz).

U.S. Forum member Rex Lee Jim in a meeting with the CPESC – "Coordinator of Ethnic Peoples of Santa Cruz", who is the highest organic, political, and legal representation of the indigenous populations at the level of the Department of Santa Cruz, within which 5 indigenous populations can be found: chiquitanos, guarayos, ayoreos, guaraníes y yuracarés. There was a representative from each ethnic group in the meeting.

Stephen Johnson and Joy Olson meet with Alberto Guapisaca, National Director of Bilingual Education, other members of the same, and a representative of Esquel on issues of education and develolpment.

Visit to the La Victoria plantation for export flowers. Pictured are Manuel Chiriboga, Joy Olson, Stephen Johnson, Ernesto Aranibar (Director of Agora Democrática), Andrea Costales (Carter Center volunteer in Ecuador).

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