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Colombia: From Near-Failed State to Emerging Global Player


April 25, 2012 12:45pm - 2:00pm

Room 280B
Gabriel Silva was appointed Ambassador of Colombia to the United States in August 2010 by President Juan Manuel Santos. Throughout his career, Silva has been a leader in both the public and private sectors, including serving as CEO of the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia from 2002 to 2009. During his tenure, he successfully enhanced the economic viability of Colombia´s coffee industry. Under his leadership, the financial condition of the National Coffee Fund was strengthened and an ambitious program was launched to increase coffee exports. With the support of the Government of Colombia, he secured resources to improve the standard of living for thousands of coffee growing families by providing access to education, healthcare, nutrition and security. Most recently, Silva was appointed Minister of Defense by former President Álvaro Uribe. From the moment he was sworn in on August 7, 2009, he played a key role in advancing the Government´s Democratic Security Policy, which helped to dramatically improve public safety and restore confidence in Colombia. As part of this charge, he led an effort to strengthen the technological and combat capacity of the Armed Forces, which resulted in a number of successful operations that weakened the country´s waning guerilla insurgency. Silva´s work in the public sector began in 1986, when he became an Advisor on Political Affairs to former President Virgilio Barco. Between 1990 and 1993, he served as an Advisor on International Politics to former President Cesar Gaviria. In 1994, he was named Ambassador of Colombia to the United States, and worked to promote the Andean Trade Preference Agreement (ATPA) and numerous economic and security issues central to the bilateral relationship. From 1995 until 2002, Silva pursued several entrepreneurial projects, including co-founding the Newbridge Andean Partners investment fund. He was also a founding partner and member of the Board of Directors of PetroColombia S.A., and the founding president of the Global Tuition and Education Insurance Corporation and Global Life Insurance S.A. He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of the Andes in Bogotá. He completed his graduate studies in Economics and International Relations at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. He was an honorary fellow of the Ford Foundation. Silva has authored several books on Colombia and was a columnist for El Tiempo, one of Colombia´s leading newspapers. He is a member of the board of several non-governmental organizations dedicated to environmental conservation and protection, including the Fundacion Natura and the ProSierrra Foundation. He is married to Mariana Espinosa de Silva and has four children.