Media Center

Press Release


  November 11, 2003

BOGOTÁ, Colombia – The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), César Gaviria, led a two-day visit by the board of directors of the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) to Colombia, which concluded today with a meeting with President Alvaro Uribe.

Gaviria, who also chairs the non-profit PADF, assured Uribe of that organization’s commitment to Colombian democracy and to the country’s humanitarian assistance programs.

“During this visit we have been able to see the fruits of some of our support and assistance programs, which show how the government and private sector can work together effectively to the benefit of the most needy,” Gaviria said.

PADF projects in Colombia, which total over $43 million, are aimed at providing alternative employment for former coca growers as well as aiding Colombians displaced from their homes by violence. PADF is also exploring with the government and private sector to see how its experience can be used to provide jobs and training to ex-combatants who are reintegrating themselves into society.

During the visit with Uribe, Gaviria invited the Colombian President to speak to the OAS Permanent Council in Washington, D.C. PADF President Frank Gomez also extended an invitation to Uribe to accept a special award for his defense of Colombian democracy and his support of displaced persons and other low-income groups. The award will be presented at OAS headquarters at a date to be determined.

Representatives from the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus accompanied the PADF board in visiting a multipurpose family center in Soacha, near Bogotá, which serves Afro-Colombian women, children and other vulnerable groups. The mission also included an on-site visit to Riohacha, where a community productive center to aid displaced persons through job training, credit and social services has been implemented by the Caja de Compensación Familiar de Riohacha, with support from the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID), PADF, Chevron Texaco, the Department Government of La Guajira, the Chamber of Commerce of Riohacha, the municipality and others.

PADF, a private non-profit organization financed by the OAS, USAID, and corporate and private donors, seeks to increase opportunities for disadvantaged people in Latin America and the Caribbean. It helps communities achieve economic and social progress and respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crises, working in partnership with local civil society, corporations and international donors.

Reference: E-217/03