MIAMI, April 4 The U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID) on Friday named Colombian pop singer Carlos
Vives its first "inclusion ambassador" in an effort to promote
rights and economic opportunity for Colombia's displaced
The alliance is part of efforts by the U.S. government's
anti-poverty agency to help Colombia transition away from its
civil conflict which has uprooted about 5 million people,
according to Colombian government figures.
The country's 1.4 million Indians have been hit particularly
hard by the violence, with more than a quarter of them forced
to flee their lands in recent decades, according to the head of
the government's program to protect indigenous people.
Grammy award-winning Vives and USAID have a nationwide tour
slated for the summer. The singer will mentor indigenous music
groups and appear in a series of events aimed at highlighting
indigenous culture, USAID said in a statement.
"The diversity of Colombia is part of our cultural richness
that we need to recognize and value," said Vives, one of Latin
music's most celebrated stars during the 1990s and 2000s with
his traditional Vallenato-style songs.
USAID is Colombia's largest bilateral aid donor, according
to the agency's website, with programs ranging from truth and
reconciliation projects among victims and ex-combatants to job
placement programs for indigenous youth whose families have fled
to Colombia's cities.
"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," USAID's Associate
Administrator Mark Feierstein said in a press release.
The United States has provided billions of dollars in
anti-narcotics aid and training over the last decade or so to
back Colombia's armed forces in their offensive against Marxist
FARC rebels and drug traffickers.
(Reporting by Zachary Fagenson; editing by David Adams and