Lorne W. Craner, President of the International Republican Institute (IRI), traveled to Colombia to see the progress being made by government, political party and civil society leaders in developing sound public policies, strengthening democratic institutions and responding to constituents’ social and economic needs.

Members and staff of the Afro-Colombian Congressional Caucus briefed Craner on the history of the organization and on the important legislative agenda being presented before the Columbian Congress.  This agenda includes anti-discrimination legislation, labor law reforms and important national budget issues specific to the Afro-Colombian.   

In the Municipality of Soacha, Craner was joined by Mayor José Ernesto Martínez and Oscar Ortíz, Director of the Colombian President’s Office of Anti-Corruption (POAC), for an event attended by approximately 400 people celebrating the partnership between IRI, the Municipality of Soacha and POAC.  The first portion of the event was a signing ceremony dedicated to the Agreement of Cooperation among the three partners.  The agreement lays out the scope of good governance work to be mutually developed for the municipality, including the construction of Houses of Social Interest and certain waterworks projects.   

Immediately after the signing ceremony, Mayor Martínez announced the city’s hiring of an additional 200 police officers for specific areas of Soacha.  The particular areas were chosen as a result of focus group research carried out by IRI, which identified the citizen’s desire for increased police presence in these locations.  The announcement immediately reinforced the mayor’s commitment to developing public policies that are reflective of the needs and concerns of the citizens of Soacha.

Following the announcement, the three partners participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the official opening of a Hall of Transparency, the first space of its kind in Colombia.  With support provided by IRI and POAC, the office allows all citizens of Soacha to have access, through new computers and innovative software, to any city document related to revenues, expenditures, contracts, budgets, and any other document relating to public resources.  During a press conference following the ribbon cutting, Mayor Martínez reaffirmed his commitment to making Soacha a city where citizens are informed, participative and connected.

Craner also attended the kick-off event for Corporación Siglo XXI, a local think tank that recently signed a cooperation agreement with the Conservative Party of Colombia.  This joint venture, supported by IRI and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, aims to promote innovative and effective public policy proposals that are based on sound research principles. 

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