RealNews

President's Crackdown on Crime Revives Colombia Economy

The new president is cutting expenditure and crime, but the nation isn’t out of the woods yet. Helen Murphy and Bob Willis report from Bogota. Ensconced in an office protected by three metal detectors, a bomb-proof lift, 15 guards and three armoured-glass doors, Luis Carlos Sarmiento says Colombia is becoming safer. “There are some really encouraging signs,” said Sarmiento, president of Grupo Aval, Colombia’s largest financial holding company, at its Bogota headquarters. “The security risk is being lowered.” He and other businessmen say President Alvaro Uribe’s success in reducing guerrilla and drug-related violence since taking office a year ago has encouraged investment and spurred the highest rate of economic growth in five years. The Government forecasts that expansion of South America’s fourth-largest economy may exceed 3 per cent in 2004. In 2002, gross domestic product grew 1.5 per cent. Full Story

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