VP of Colombia to visit FIU

Written by: Patricia Menendez/ Assistant News Director


The vice president of Colombia will be coming to the University on Saturday, April 9 for the first ever PorColference in Miami.

PorColference is an annual event that gathers prominent Colombian figures, like Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez and  U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Murcasel-Powell, to speak about the changing image of the country and how Colombians are facing current international issues.

The event consists of two days. On Friday, April 5 registered guests are invited to attend a networking cocktail in Veza Sur Brewing Co. in Wynwood. On Saturday, April 6 the conference will take place at the University in room 100 of the Green Library from 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Attendees are also welcomed to the end of conference party at Bolivar Restaurant Bar in Miami Beach at 9 p.m.

PorColference is hosted by PorColombia, the largest organization of Colombian students and professionals in the United States. The University’s PorColombia chapter has been one of the longest standing ones, according to John Moreno-Escobar, PorColombia’s national president.

“We have a large number of Colombian students in FIU and that’s why since the beginning of the organization, it made sense for us to have a chapter in FIU,” Moreno-Escobar said to Student Media.

Moreno-Escobar said that the purpose of the organization is to better the image of Colombia abroad.

This year’s PorColference’s panel discussions will be about the impact of tourism on the Colombian economy, the new era of Colombian politicians, the polarization of the country after the Colombian peace process and the influence of pop culture on the general perception of Colombia.

“We’re going to have an interesting conversation on Shakira, Juanes, J Balvin and all these big figures in sports, arts and music, and how pop culture could actually help the image of the country,” Moreno-Escobar said.

Moreno-Escobar said that after the conference he wants attendees to not think of cocaine or Pablo Escobar when they hear about the country; instead, he wants them to leave with a more positive and modern image of Colombia.

PorColference 2019 will also be holding a panel on the Venezuelan crisis, with FIU political science Professor Eduardo Gamarra serving as its moderator.

“It seems to me that Colombia is part of the solution in Venezuela. I am not saying it is a military solution or anything of the kind, I am just saying that however Venezuela turns out, Colombia will play a role,” said Gamarra. “It is going to be a debate about why Venezuela is where it is, what the prospects are of where it might go and, most importantly, what Colombia’s role will be.”

Gamarra said that FIU, as a public university, should be in the center of these debates because more than 60% of its students are of hispanic background.

Aside from panel discussions, the event will also be giving out LEAD Awards that recognize Colombian immigrants in the U.S. This year’s award recipients are Monica Echeverri, CEO of Desire Love Dare; Juan Barrientos, founder of El Cielo Restaurant; Marshall Hendrickson, co-founder of Veza Sur; and Annette Taddeo, Florida state senator.

PorColombia’s impact on universities has been that of changing the image of Colombia on college campuses and embracing the culture of Colombia as well as other immigrant cultures, according to Moreno-Escobar.

The organization is also open to non-Colombian students.

For more information on the event visit https://www.porcolombia.us/porcolference.