The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

PBPL 85 Tours the Casa de Nariño

PBPL 85 Colombia

PBPL 85 students tour the Casa de Nariño, the official residence of the President of Colombia.

PBPL 85 Colombia

Juan Santamaria, who leads an international logistics company, speaks with PBPL 85 students in Colombia.

PBPL 85 Colombia

PBPL 85 students dining in Bogata, Colombia.

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Our third day in Colombia was filled with informative meetings and exciting events. The morning started off leisurely as our first meeting was not until noon. Students used this time to explore the surrounding area and to catch up on some much-needed sleep. Early on the sun broke through the clouds and dispelled the fog that can settle on Bogotá and the surrounding hillsides. This mild weather was a treat after a large rainstorm the previous day.

 

Our first meeting was with businessman Juan Santamaria who is head of an international logistics company. Mr. Santamaria has worked around the world in the field of logistics, but has since returned to his native Colombia where his current business venture is headquartered. The meeting took place in a rooftop room with a surrounding deck that offered stunning views of the city. Over the course of lunch, we learned more about Mr. Santamaria’s perspective on the peace process and his outlook on Colombia’s socio-political situation. The meeting proved to be an excellent opportunity to gain the perspective of someone working outside of politics and policy-making, and the group used the occasion to discuss the interaction between the private sector and the peace process. Santamaria was critical of the peace agreements and negotiation process, although he remained optimistic for Colombia’s future.

 

Located in the historic center of Bogotá, our next meeting was at the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace. Making good time in our journey across town, we had time to spare before our meeting and began to wander around the area, enjoying the beautiful architecture of the city’s La Candelaria sector. Our explorations were short lived as we began to see and feel the tell-tale signs of an impending storm. As the rain picked up, the group took cover in the beautiful Templo de San Agustín. The church is a Catholic place of worship dedicated to San Agustin de Hipona and was built between 1642 and 1668. From its historic and religious significance to its architectural and aesthetic beauty, the church was a wonderful way to pass time before our next meeting.

 

As the rain subsided and the time for the meeting approached, we headed over to the government building where the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace was located. We met with Diana Escobar, who works directly under the High Commissioner, as well as other colleagues. Over the course of our meeting, we delved into the various measures stipulated by the peace agreements. We also discussed current government efforts in the peace implementation process. Overall, Ms. Escobar was optimistic about the direction of the peace implementation process.

 

Following our afternoon meeting, Ms. Escobar was kind enough to organize a tour for the group of Casa de Nariño, the official residence of the President of Colombia and the country’s seat of government. Our tour guide had a great sense of humor and was incredibly knowledgeable about the presidential palace. During the tour, we saw famous pieces of Colombian art, including a painting by renowned artist, Fernando Botero Angulo. In the gardens of Casa de Nariño, we were able to pass by the first astronomical observatory built in the Americas. As our tour wound through the halls of the presidential palace, we also nearly caught sight of Colombian President Iván Duque. At one point in the tour, we found out that the president was in the next room.

 

Later that evening, we boarded the bus to head to a group dinner on the outskirts of the city. What we expected to be a forty minute trip turned into a two hour bus ride due to traffic and an accident farther down the road. When we finally reached our restaurant, it more than made up for the hassle it took to reach it. The decor eclectic, music and dancing in abundance, Andrés Carne de Res is as much a local attraction as a place to eat. We enjoyed a delicious meal and even joined the crowd on the dance floor for a few songs.

 

Thursday’s meetings shed light on multiple perspectives in the Colombian peace process, all of which will be incredibly valuable to us as we begin to finalize the contents of our white paper. We look forward to making the most of our remaining time in Bogotá and are excited to see what is in store for the rest of our trip in Colombia.

Written by Ashley DuPuis '19, 18F PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership course participant

This is part of a series where PBPL 85:Global Policy Leadership students reflect on their experiences during the two-week field research portion of course. While in country, students meet with local policy leaders: politicians, academics, civil society leaders, journalists, business leaders, diplomats, and other in-country experts who help inform their analyses.

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