Today at 6:30, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos will be speaking to a packed Salomon Center. The evocative topic? “Why People Should Give More than a Damn About Latin America.” Unfortunately, tickets are sold out, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still give a damn about these important issues.
The highly-popular President Santos was elected in 2010 with over 9 million votes, the most in Colombian history. A graduate of such prestigious institutions as the London School of Economics, and Harvard University, Santos is also founder of Colombia’s largest political party. The President is expected to make a case for a more prominent consideration of Latin America in U.S. international policy.
As President of Colombia, Santos has emphasized the importance of foreign policy, and has implemented many national programs to reduce inequality in Colombia:
- He has begun diplomatic relations with Asian countries, expanding Colombia’s foreign policy to nations it had never before engaged with in negotiations.
- He is more recognized in Latin American countries for his efforts to integrate Colombia with countries like Chile, Mexico, and Peru, and to restore relations with Venezuela and Ecuador.
- He has expanded a national program to return land to farmers who lost their shares during the civil war.
- He improved tax collection and upgraded Colombia’s infrastructure.
- His government has been successful in weakening cocaine cartels and reducing the land where coca (the plant used to make cocaine) is grown.
Brown’s campus is no stranger to high-profile government figures. From Watson Institute regulars Ricard Lagos (former Chilean president), Romano Prodi, (former Italian prime minister), and Alfred Gusenbauer (former Austrian chancellor), to the visit from Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf last year, Brown is a veritable mini-UN. Tack on both visiting-fellow-with-Presidential-aspirations Wyclef Jean, President Obama’s zip down Waterman St. last October, and now President Santos, we may as well convert Sayles into a permanent office for the Secret Service.
…Of course, check the BDH for full post-speech coverage.