#OnAssignment with President Clinton in Medellín, Colombia

This post is part of a recurring series of perspectives on the impact of our work by staff and partners of the Clinton Foundation.

As part of his ongoing commitment to improving lives in Latin America, President Clinton recently traveled to Medellín, Colombia, where he spoke at the inaugural World Coffee Producers Forum and visited the city’s Comuna 13 neighborhood. This trip marked his 10th visit to the country.

President Clinton’s press secretary Angel Ureña filed this report from the trip:

A look into Comuna 13

Most people remember the ‘90s as a time of relative peace and global prosperity, which makes it easy to forget how that era of stability was achieved. One of President Clinton’s most important, but often overlooked, achievements was strengthening relationships in the Western Hemisphere — averting the economic collapse of Mexico and Argentina, dampening conflicts throughout the region, and perhaps most notably, joining with the Colombian people to build a future based on shared prosperity and shared responsibility.

In 2000, President Clinton helped fund Plan Colombia, providing $1.3 billion in assistance over two years. Excluding Plan Colombia funding, President Clinton’s administration increased aid related to ending narcotics trafficking by almost 3600%, from $25 million in 1993 to almost $895 million in 2000.

Next stop: World Coffee Producers Forum

After visiting Comuna 13, President Clinton participated in a discussion with President Juan Manuel Santos at the inaugural World Coffee Producers Forum about the effects of climate change on coffee farmers around the globe and the steps we all can take to address them.

Translation: “President Clinton: In Medellín we’re seeing the fruits of peace and proof that cooperation is better than conflict.”

A continuing commitment

Following the global discussion about climate change, President Santos invited President Clinton to speak briefly with several other leaders in Colombia about the importance of investing in communities transitioning out of conflict, something President Clinton has worked on extensively in other parts of the world.

In recognition of his enduring friendship to the country, the Mayor of Medellín presented President Clinton with the keys to the city.

Translation: “Former President Bill Clinton received the keys to Medellín”

This commitment to Colombia continues today through the work of the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP). In Colombia, CGEP’s programs work with smallholder farmers, fishers, women entrepreneurs, and youth by providing the tools they need — from training and financing to technology and innovation — and bringing them into markets where they can prosper.

Chakipi Colombia, CGEP’s inclusive distribution business featured in the video above, started working with women entrepreneurs in Cartagena in 2015 to help increase their income, and has recently expanded to the coffee growing region of Colombia.

Acceso Colombia, CGEP’s farmer services business, continues to expand in the country and is now working with fishers from the Wayuu indigenous community in Guajira in northern Colombia. Acceso Colombia trains them in best practices in fishing and processing and helps bring their catch, along with other produce sourced from local farmers, to national markets.

CGEP’s Acceso Training Center in Cartagena, launched in 2013, prepares and places marginalized youth in quality jobs in hospitality, accounting, and logistics. The training center is helping to significantly improve their annual incomes and quality of life, and empowering them to succeed with dignity.

The Clinton Foundation’s Climate Initiative is also working in Colombia — specifically in the Caribbean islands of San Andrés and Providencia. There, we’re working with partners to help the local populations transition to clean, renewable energy.

Projects like those in Medellín’s Comuna 13 and the Clinton Foundation’s ongoing work in Colombia are inspirational reminders of what can happen when you expand opportunities everywhere.