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USAID Names Grammy-Winning Artist Carlos Vives As Inclusion Envoy

Published on 08 April 2014

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by Office of the Spokesperson


Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) April 4 named international Latin pop singer-song writer Carlos Vives as its first inclusion ambassador. In this role, Vives will promote social and economic inclusion of Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities in Colombia.

“The diversity of Colombia is part of our cultural richness that we need to recognize and value,” said Vives. “I am honored to be able to use music to highlight that our identity is tied to our racial and ethnic individuality in order to build a durable peace.”

Vives, a Grammy and multi-Latin Grammy winner, is partnering with USAID to increase awareness and understanding about diversity, minority rights and cultural heritage throughout Colombia. These ethnic communities, representing nearly 15 percent of Colombia’s 45 million people, are among the most marginalized in the country and suffer from exploitation, poverty, violence, discrimination, displacement and exclusion, USAID said.

Four out of 10 Afro-Colombians or indigenous persons are victims of the armed conflict, more than 60 percent live below the poverty line and — in urban areas — unemployment levels for Afro-Colombians are 5 percent higher than those of the non-ethnic population.

“For Colombia to move towards prosperity and peace, the well-being and rights of all Colombians must be taken into account, especially Afro-Colombian and indigenous groups who have been historically marginalized,” said USAID Associate Administrator Mark Feierstein. “Partnering with Carlos Vives is an incredible opportunity to celebrate Colombia’s diverse population, raise the profile of these vulnerable groups and create a more inclusive foundation upon which peace can be built.”

Through this partnership, Vives will:

• Highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion throughout Colombia during the upcoming Corazón Profundo tour in August.

• Mentor five-10 Afro-Colombian and indigenous music groups.

• Host a music showcase for Colombia’s Afro-Colombian Day on May 21 at his restaurant, Gaira Cafe Cumbia House, in Bogota.

• Appear in a series of public events with Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities to promote their rights and raise awareness of opportunities to rise out of poverty.

“We all deserve to have the same access to the benefits of development because in today’s world, diversity means business and development opportunities,” Vives said.

The partnership builds on USAID’s decadelong effort to support Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities to promote their inclusion, rights and economic opportunities. Vives’s first single of his new album features ChoQuibTown, the acclaimed Afro-Colombian group.

Born in the Caribbean city of Santa Marta, the third-largest city of Colombia’s Caribbean region, Vives has strong ties to the indigenous peoples of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. He has made them central characters in his lyrics and music videos, has sung in their ancient language and has invited them to participate in high-visibility events such as the Billboard Music Awards’ red carpet and his stage performances. He has also spoken frequently about the great influence that the Afro-descendant culture has had on his music.



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Posted 2014-04-08 09:50:00