All posts by Alan Saadulla

Colombia: Land & the Agenda for Peace

On April 3rd, 2013 I visited the United States Institute of Peace to attend a presentation on Colombia: Land & the Agenda for Peace.  There were 3 panels and each had two presenters.  Dr. Cynthia Arnson from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars played the moderator for the first panel.  The first 2 guest speakers were Mr. Absalon Machado and Carlos Salgado.  Both are Colombian Economists.  Their presentation was about the problems of land and peace agenda in Colombia and also the importance of rural areas in the land reform process.  The speakers were speaking in Spanish through interpreters.  Most of the discussion was about the current peace talks between the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the Colombian government in Havana, Cuba.  it is considered a road map for peace in Colombia.  The panel discussed the issue of land reforms for those who are displaced, peasants, and those lands that were taken by drug traffickers and guerrillas.  The panel also discussed the struggles that both sides face in order to reach an agreement.  One main struggle is that there are four sides to the process, Colombian government, FARC, peasants, and organizations.  Before any of these talks to be discussed, the panel said that the Colombian government must have a proper zoning maps to include land with resources and how it will be distributed.

US-China Economic Relations

I attended the Foreign Policy Classroom at the US Department of State.  The topic was on “US-China Economic Relations.”  The guest speaker was Lawrence Grippo, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs who serves as a trade policy analyst for the Office of Bilateral Trade Affairs.  Mr. Grippo discussed various aspects of US-China economic relations.  He touched basis on how US companies are making profit compared to the labor rates paid to Chinese laborers. He also discussed how the Chinese economy has been successful after the economic reforms after long dependence on the Soviet’s to enhance the Chinese economy.

He also explained the Chinese government’s efforts in helping their economy by providing money to subsidize small businesses, innovations and researches.  China has also had success in clean energy production, pharmaceutical industry, and building aircrafts.  Mr. Grippo went on explaining that China is focused more on investments and not on labor.  There are also some regulations that both US and China have on companies especially when it comes to national security.  This event was very helpful for me to understand some basics about US-China economic relations.