On November 9, 2021, the Inter-American Dialogue hosted a private meeting with members of the Colombian delegation for Compromiso Valle during their visit to Washington, DC. The private roundtable conversation included Maria Isabel Ulloa, executive director of ProPacifico and former vice-minister of Mines and Energy of Colombia, Erlendy Cuero, defender of afro-descendant victims, and Remy Calero, CEO of AseoYa. Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, gave opening remarks and moderated the discussion. Speakers participated from the Dialogue’s office and via Zoom. Representatives from the Atlantic Council, BMW, Wilson Center, Exxon, Open Society Foundation, Apple, Diaz & Reus, Prudential, Mitsui, Albright Stonebridge, WOLA, Willkie Farr, and Nippon Koei; including former Colombian Ambassador to the US Carolina Barco, were all present and actively involved in the discussion.
Ulloa began the conversation by explaining that Compromiso Valle was created after the Cali protests in the Spring of 2021 to address citizens’ anger. Ulloa explained that Compromiso Valle has six priorities: 1) Food Security, 2) Leadership, 3) Employability, 4) Education, 5) Life Transformation, and 5) Entrepreneurship. She outlined how with the participation of the private sector, government, and civil society organizations, Compromiso Valle has made headway on these six priorities.
Erlendy Cuero spoke with passion about her work with the afro-descendent community in Cali. Cuero explained that lack of opportunity and food, violence at the hands of the state, and advocating for reform motivated the afro-descendent community to protest.
Remy Calero provided insight on how the private sector has mobilized to provide solutions. The private sector listened to protestors and realized they share a goal: to provide more employment opportunities for the people of Cali. Calero also gave insights into how the private sector has provided solutions by working together with citizens and the government to provide employment opportunities in the region.
The conversation examined Cali’s current political, economic, and social trends after the protests earlier this year. Speakers explained that while some progress has been made to address protestors’ wishes, rampant violence, flawed transportation systems, and a desire for employment still exist. Speakers noted that the government must still work with the private sector and civilian society to find methods to achieve social reform and improve the quality of life in Cali. The conversation also featured remarks about US-Colombia relations and the Biden administration’s goals and priorities on helping build a more prosperous Colombia for all. Members of the Compromiso Valle delegation noted that they have come to Washington, DC, to expand funding for the project in hopes of making it a longer-term project. In the meantime, Compromiso Valle is working to spur development in the region, rebuild education systems, provide employment for Colombian youth, and work towards peace and stability.