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Medellin Makes History 

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Colombia's business hub Medellin prepares to make history with the Inter-American Development Bank's annual assembly.

BY CHRONICLE STAFF

MEDELLIN —  The annual assembly of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) this year is historic in several ways. First, it will mark the bank's 50th anniversary. Second, it will feature a summit for the heads of state of the bank's 48 member countries.

"There's never been a summit with heads of states at an IDB assembly," says Mateo Restrepo, the manager of the IDB Annual Assembly 2009.

Unlike the Summit of the Americas scheduled for April in Trinidad and Tobago, the Colombia summit aims to include heads of states from outside the continent, including Europe and Asia. 

CALDERON & CITIBANK

Colombia's president Alvaro Uribe has invited all heads of states for the IDB's 48 member countries, including the United States, Germany, China and Japan.  So far, Presidents Felipe Calderon of Mexico, Michelle Bachelet of Chile and Alan Garcia of Peru have confirmed their attendance from Latin America. From the private sector, the IDB assembly will include top-level executives from Citibank, JP Morgan, Phillip Morris and Telefonica.

Third, it will be the most important event ever held in Medellin, Colombia's business hub and the home of such prominent companies as Exito, EPM and Bancolombia (Colombia's largest bank). It will also further help change Medellin's image from the one it had in the 1980's when it was the crime-ridden home of the world's largest drug trafficking cartel to one it is gaining today as
 one of the world's leading urban models. (See Medellin: Global Model). "This will be the biggest event in Medellin," Restrepo says.

In addition to 4,000 foreign visitors, the assembly is expected to attract 1,000 Colombians. Some 2,500 police will be on hand to take care of security.

INTENSIVE CAMPAIGN

Medellin was chosen after an intense campaign by President Alvaro Uribe after he attended the IDB's annual assembly in Okinawa, Japan in 2004. "He was very impressed by the event," says Restrepo, a former advisor to the president.

For Colombia, the IDB assembly gives it a chance to show foreign visitors the progress made in the country in general and Medellin in particular. "Medellin - the city that reflects the transformation of Colombia" is one of the key slogans organizers use.

The city passed the international summit test in June last year when it successfully hosted the annual general assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), which gathered the foreign ministers of its 35 members states. 
 

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