Photo Exhibit: Colombia, Country of Contrasts

Notice to the Press
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 21, 2011

The De­partment of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the Permanent Mission of Colombia to the OAS, and the U.S. Embassy in Colombia have organized an exhibit presented by the Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of the American States. An opening reception will be held Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. This photo exhibition illustrates the incredible biodiversity of Colombia, the social and environmental damage caused by illicit crops and narcotrafficking, and what Colombians are doing to protect themselves from this problem.

INL Deputy Assistant Secretary Todd Robinson, Ambassador Luis Alfonoso Hoyos of the Permanent Mission of Colombia to the OAS, Ambassador Alfonso Quiñónez, Secretary for External Relations for the OAS, and Lydia Bendersky, Director of the OAS Art Museum of the Americas, will be giving short remarks to highlight the achievement of this exhibit. Fifteen photographs were selected from 7,000 submissions received from every Colombian state and many national parks. The nationwide competition was organized by the U.S. Embassy in Colombia and the Colombian Ministry of Interior and Justice, with support from El Tiempo, Colombia’s leading newspaper, and was facilitated through Facebook.

Colombia is the second-most bio-diverse nation on Earth after Brazil, and contains ten percent of the plant species that exist in our world. But narcotrafficking is threat­ening this balance because coca cultivation causes the deforestation of thousands of acres of pristine tropical forest equivalent to the size of the state of Kansas --each year.

Social costs are even more frightening: thousands of Colombian armed forces and civilians have died in guerrilla conflict, as farmers are often forced to grow coca. Fields of coca are guarded with landmines, making a war zone of the farmland of ordinary Colombians.

Colombia, Country of Contrasts seeks to raise awareness of these brutal realities. To see all the photos submitted for the contest, visit:­trastes  [Web Editor's note: for those who do not have and do not wish to create a Facebook account, we have posted the 15 finalists' photographs in a fact sheet about the contest.]

Interested media should contact: Greg Svitil, OAS, Art Museum of the Americas, (202) 458-6016,

On view September 21 - October 7, 2011

AMA | OAS Terrace Level Photo Gallery

1889 F Street, NW (corner of 18th Street)

Washington, DC 20006

Hours: MON - FRI 9AM - 5PM

PRN: 2011/1555