Where Does the Vicious Cycle End?

Posted by Gaddi Vasquez
October 3, 2008
Ambassador Vasquez in Colombia

About the Author: Ambassador Gaddi H. Vasquez is the 8th U.S. Representative to the United Nations Organizations in Rome.

Across the board, all of the development professionals in Colombia have told me that internal displacement affects children most. They pointed out that individuals and families are generally not displaced once but multiple times. With each move, the displaced restart a vicious cycle of uncertainty, hunger, fear, and despair.

I wrapped up my three-day visit to Colombia yesterday evening by comparing notes with the seven reporters who accompanied me throughout this journey. We reflected as a group on the diversity of humanitarian projects we saw this week and marveled at the tireless work of the United Nations in coordination with USAID, the Colombian government, and local NGOs that are often staffed by female volunteers.

Foremost in our minds were the urban garden and school feeding programs we visited Thursday in Soacha, a large neighborhood built into a deforested mountain on the margins of the capital city of Bogotá. Upon arrival to Soacha -- at what seemed to be the highest reaches of the barrio -- as soon as we exited the cars, children surrounded us. They enthusiastically took us by the hands to met their 64-year-old “abuelita” (little grandmother) who spends the better part of each day mixing local ingredients with lentils and vegetable oil donated by the United States to make lunch for the school kids. They also introduced us to their “abuelito” (little grandfather) who teaches them about agriculture in the community gardens supported by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

At every step the kids were quick to tell us about their gratitude for our support and their goals. One young boy made a joke about my shirt, and when one of his classmates learned I work in Italy, he started repeating the only Italian word he knows – "bambino, bambino." The kids touched us in the hour we spent together, but the fact is, they touch people in their community everyday. That’s why the volunteers do not hesitate to pile up heavy sacks of donated rice, flour, and sugar in the school kitchen’s storeroom, why parents sacrifice to send them to school, why UN agencies are pooling their resources and talents with strong U.S. support to work more strategically in areas where the need is the greatest. We simply cannot let any of them down.

There are not always clear answers to the question posed in the title of this blog. An end to the cycle will not be possible without giving children an opportunity to learn and their parents the economic opportunities to support their growth. Food should always be a part of that solution.

Editor's Note: Read Ambassador Vasquez's previous entry about entrepreneurship programs in Colombia.



Texas, USA
October 4, 2008

Jonathan in Texas writes:

Just a question to the general DipNoters but would a temp freeze on government spending except for VA benifits and the war affect our contributions to countries like Colombia?

From my assumptions, I think it would. Countries like Colombia would not receive as much help. Although we have to look out for the US first, who would look out for countries like Colombia if the US did not?

Tennessee, USA
October 4, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

The fact you are now even talking about these problems shows the enormous advancements made civilly since the 70s and through GHs administration and attack on Drugs and improvements in Democratic functions.

Unfortunately this is the lap over from over five decades of corruption and demoralizing of any culture. They are the victims of poor leadership and social dysfunction.

Again, the fact it is now in the open shows a possitive

United States
October 6, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Who would look out for Colombia if the U.S. did not?

How about their own government? Are they potted plants or do they actually do something during their term of office?

A better question for our own government is, who is looking out for America? Goldman-Sachs, J.P. Morgan, or the potted plants we elected to Congress?

Tennessee, USA
October 6, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

Russia would have been glad to....as well as China and India...this is where consistency and democracy works, not Marxism....

Until the 80s a large % of the population was not urban and provinces were independently run by force of local leadership, which often was dictatorial and premised power on cocoa production of each area...priest, nuns even women and children were killed; which dripped into El Salvador, Nicaragua etc.

The fact the drug war is mostly in Mexico now, shows how it has been squeezed northwards and civilization is growing...they are moving forward at least.

Regardless of how you feel Z, you have not had generations of living under duress, agitation, no political say, no freedoms, no funds...generations Z.

Even poor America is still the best place to be...

I do agree with you and if the people who committed Fraud by Intent-selling false insurance to back up the bad loans under a change in vernacular only do not pay for what they did, how will it look to the world? It will make Socialism look more democratic to be honest...what they did was a violation of Federal Banking laws and Federal Monetary Laws, and I would not doubt International Monetary laws governing fraud by intent. It hurt the very security of this nation and not unlike a physical attack but worse... As a country and made us insecure fiscally. It was no different than selling counter fit monies...80 trillion dollars worth of counterfeit bills...what would happen to you if you did it?

Hey, the head of Fannie May just purchased a five million dollor home in DC...what a way to fail in the United States of America...they make every citizen look a fool.


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