Medellin, Colombia — In what was once the most dangerous neighborhood of this, the world’s most notorious city, a Sunday afternoon is a bustling, joyful affair. The scampering children and people sitting at tiny sidewalk cafes on the narrow streets would be fit subjects for a Colombian Norman Rockwell.
“Look,” says New York Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks, part of a congressional delegation visiting from the United States, “they’re cooking pizzas, they’re eating ice cream, boyfriends and girlfriends are holding hands — this is amazing, this Medellin! We’re supposed to be dodging bullets.”
Congratulations to Rep. Meeks for traveling to see the reality of Colombia in person and for supporting the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which represents opportunity both for U.S. exporters and Colombia’s people. Meeks joined eight other members of Congress on the trip, headed by Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. (Photos and more from Commerce are here.) It would have been so easy to go the politically expedient route, but not for the Congressman from New York.
Rep. Meeks, an advocate for Afro-Colombians, supports the deal. He calls progress in the country “nothing short of a miracle,” and blames the image of the “old Colombia” for limiting the deal’s support. “If you come here,” he says, strolling out into the streets of this revived neighborhood, “it’s a no-brainer.”
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