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Representative Meeks Hosts African-Colombian Leadership in Meetings to Discuss "A Balanced Policy on Colombia"

October 13, 2005
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, DC) Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) recently welcomed the second Vice President of Colombia's House of Representatives, Congressman Edgar Eulisses Torres, and the Governor of Choc, Julio Ibarguen, in meetings to discuss opportunities and greater parity for African-Colombians. Choc is a state in Colombia, which has more than a 90% African-descendant population. Representative Meeks has been a strong advocate for a "balanced policy on Colombia," supporting an increase in social programs and sustainable development.

Colombia has the third largest African population outside of Africa, following Brazil and the United States, respectively.
African-Colombians comprise 26% of the population, yet they are over-represented among the poorest of the poor. Eight-two percent of this disadvantaged minority lack basic public services, such as running water.

Representative Meeks has been instrumental in organizing meetings for the Colombian delegation with members of Congress and Senators. He has been vocal in urging policy makers to consider the impact of U.S. foreign policy on African-Colombians.

As it stands, 80% of U.S. assistance to Colombia goes to the military and national police force. Congressman Meeks has been pushing for a balanced policy, with more money going to social programs and sustainable development.

In August, he was successful in convincing President lvaro Uribe Vlez to honor his two year-old promise to create a cabinet-level position for African-Colombians. He also negotiated commitments from the President to support phase II of Plan Pacifico, which concentrates investment in one of Colombia's heavily African-Colombian communities.