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October 2009 | Summits Online | Español

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Interview with the Permanent Representative from Colombia to the OAS, Ambassador Luis Alfonso Hoyos

On the occasion of the transfer of the Chairmanship of the Summits Process to the Republic of Colombia, the recently appointed Ambassador to the OAS from the host country of the Sixth Summit of the Americas, Luis Alfonso Hoyos, accepted our invitation to participate in a radio interview, conducted in coordination with the OAS Radio on September 25, 2009, in Washington, D.C.

Ambassador Hoyos, native of a small town called Pensilvania, in Caldas, Colombia, received a postgraduate degree in Political Science from the University of La Sorbonne, in Paris. On July 27, 2009, he was appointed as the Permanent Representative from Colombia to the OAS. He recently assumed the Chairmanship of the Permanent Council (for the following three months).

Hoyos started out his career by holding political positions through popular vote; and was elected for the House of Representatives of Colombia. Moreover, from 1994 to 1998, he was a member of the Senate and became a vice president for the Human Rights Commission. In 2002, he assumed the chairmanship of the Colombian Agency of International Cooperation, the Peace Investment Fund and the Social Solidarity Network, which over the years would become the agency Acción Social of the Presidency of the Republic.

In this interview, Ambassador Hoyos talks about the transfer of the Chairmanship of the Summits of the Americas Process from Trinidad and Tobago to Colombia; the participation of the diverse actors involved in the Summits Process; the inauguration of Colombia’s Chairmanship to the OAS Permanent Council; the "Week of Peace” (in which, former FARC-kidnapped Clara Rojas actively participated); as well as the recent diplomatic approach between the Governments of Ecuador and Colombia. To listen to the full interview, please click here (Spanish only).

This article includes some excerpts of this interview. To read the full transcript, please click here (Spanish only).

OAS Radio: It is a pleasure to have you with us Ambassador. How has your experience been being in charge of the Colombian Mission to the OAS in these few weeks?

Luis Alfonso Hoyos (LAH): A special greeting to everyone. We are looking forward to working in the multilateral spirit of this Organization so that this great political Forum of our continent can be fruitful. As you all know, this multilateral organization has an advantage of working under the consensus, but at the same time, it means that we have a difficulty of working at a slower rate for the reason that the member States with different interests have to find a consensus. However, we are well adapted and Colombia will continue to work as it has always done.

OAS radio: A few days ago, here at the OAS headquarters, a very important event - the transfer of the Chairmanship of the Summits of the Americas Process - took place. What’s your opinion about this transfer?

LAH: Yes, with the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, their Ambassador to the OAS, and the Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jaime Bermudez, the transfer of the Chairmanship took place. First of all, we want to recognize the significant efforts of Trinidad and Tobago in hosting the Summit of the Americas, which have become the political forum par excellence of the highest level in the continent. We also want to highlight the contributions of all the stakeholders involved in the process, beginning with the essential work carried out by the OAS, as well as the participation of civil society and other organizations, and to assume the Chairmanship, as you have mentioned. Colombia assumes with great enthusiasm the Summit of the Americas in 2012. Moreover, we hope to continue working under the same guidelines of the previous five Summits and we hope to sustain a scenario of the highest level in which we can draw the outlines to find greater solidarity, better cooperation, equality and above all, to work even harder to achieve the most important goals of this continent such as reducing poverty and inequality, which is still tremendously enormous in this continent despite the progress we have made. Furthermore, we will work to achieve the objectives of the Millenium Development Goals and reinforce the measurements of trust so they can be understood and respected, and so that this continent can continue to work in strengthening the democracy and Human Rights.

OAS radio: Colombia has been well known for its good performance in logistics, as it has hosted several events of high importance. What can you tell us about being the Host country of the Sixth Summit?

LAH: Cartagena will host the next Summit on 2012. Traditionally, Cartagena has been the city par excellence for welcoming our special guests. Taking advantage of its logistics experience, Colombia will work enthusiastically in this regard. We hope to provide all of our technical and logistical expertise and we will work very closely with the OAS Summits of the Americas Secretariat, with the SIRG (Summits Implementation Review Group) and with the countries which have previously participated in this process so that the next Summit can be done with the highest quality.

OAS radio: Both the General Assembly of the OAS and the Summits of the Americas have opened their doors to civil society participation. How would you comment on this?

LAH: It is absolutely fundamental. Colombia has been working hard for civil society to become more and more involved. In addition, Colombia has had recent experiences over the past six years too; for instance, in order to discuss the international cooperation strategy in a framework of the group called “G24”, Colombia prepared a tripartite discussion among the G24 counterparts, the Colombian Government and the civil society including all its sectors: human rights organizations, companies, labor unions, local municipalities and mayors’ associations and the church. This experience tells us that although it takes more time since there are various opinions and different points of view, which slow down the decision-making process, it is more legitimate and it can enrich the process greater more. For this reason, Colombia also wants to learn from this experience and hope that the next summits will be par excellence where the governments and the civil society from its different viewpoints can plan consensus together for the continent to advance in the way that we all desire.

OAS radio: In October, you will assume the Presidency of the Permanent Council. How are you feeling about taking this position?

LAH: For the next three months of chairmanship, we will continue the work that the OAS moves forward and try to find all the political support to overcome the difficult situation that is happening in Honduras; and we hope that we can propel some of the themes that are beginning to appear in the OAS that still need some stimulation, which is the case of the goal of expanding all over the region “quality certifications”. This will be a guarantee of finding the best governments, a good mechanism to avoid corruption and to achieve higher quality and efficiency in the public policies.

Moreover, we have to work much more on the Social Charter so that we can have the plan of action; and to have more practical, actual and measurable cooperation in the continent in a way that, by taking advantage of both the recently launched Inter-American Social Protection Network and the existence of the Millennium Development Goals, we can accelerate the reduction of poverty and inequality.

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