Letter from President Uribe
Bogotá D.C., February 18, 2009
Ms. Jody K. Olson
Acting Director, Peace Corps
Washington, D.C. 20526
Dear Ms. Olson:
When we review the history of Colombia it’s very clear that with the arrival of the first Peace Corps Volunteers in 1961 under President John F. Kennedy’s initiative and Colombian President Alberto Lleras’ vision, a wide door opened to an enriching relationship for both our countries. The benefits were immeasurable and when the Peace Corps decided to withdraw from Colombia all the volunteers came back home with a feeling of leaving a second family and an unfinished job in villages and in remote communities. They formed an important group Friends of Colombia and since the 80’s have silently worked and contributed to the causes they left behind, created new ones and kept in touch with Colombia.
One year ago, on Feburary 3, 2008, Colombia through our embassy in Washington D.C. invited Friends of Colombia to return and see for themselves the changes in our country and to hear from the experts how through the Democratic Security Policy we are building a better Colombia for our people. This four day conference ‘Reconnecting with Colombia’ brought 196 ex-Peace Corps Volunteers to the colonial city of Cartagena. They arrived to reconnect with an old and cherished friend.
I had the privilege to award Friends of Colombia with the "Orden Nacional al Mérito" recognizing their important contribution to the development of our country. After hearing their testimonies of their experience in Colombia I want to once again extend an invitation so that new generations of Peace Corps volunteers unite with us and that with all our institutional support both countries can design and plan new programs that can help us better the conditions of our underprivileged population and strengthen and enrich new ties of friendship between our countries.
We are honored to formally invite the Peace Corps to return to Colombia. We know what a valuable contribution the Peace Corps makes to both of our countries.
Alvaro Uribe Vélez