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Visiting Senate delegation from Colombia have key exchanges in Westminster and Belfast

From 21-25 November, BGIPU hosted a delegation of five parliamentarians from the Senate of the Republic of Colombia, with the objective of enhancing parliamentary relations between the two countries. The delegation was led by Senator Germán Blanco Álvarez (Colombian Conservative Party), and he was accompanied by fellow senators Carlos Fernando Motoa, Carlos Abraham Jiménez, Sor Berenice Bedoya Perez and Yenny Esperanza Rozo Zambrano.

The visit commenced with an overview of the work of Parliament from specialists across from the House of Commons and Lords, where delegates had an opportunity to pose questions on our processes and the running of the Palace of Westminster. Shadow Latin America Minister Fabian Hamilton then hosted a welcome lunch for our guests, attended by a range of members across both houses with an interest in Colombia. The afternoon saw the delegation meet members of both the Lords’ International Relations and Defence Committee and the Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee. The day ended with a further opportunity to meet members and staff interested in Colombia and wider Latin American at the BGIPU welcome reception.

The visit continued with a roundtable meeting chaired by Sir Tony Lloyd MP, where the delegates heard from a range of NGOs and civil society organisations based in the UK about their concerns on the implementation of the peace accords. The delegation then met with the Lords’ Environment and Climate Change Committee, where members discussed COP27, COP15 and the green transition in both the UK and Colombia. Following a working lunch hosted by Trade Envoy Mark Menzies, the delegation met a group of cross-party members to discuss the socio-economic situation in current day Colombia. Attendees included chair of the Human Rights APPG and co-chair of Parliamentary Friends of Colombia Sir Tony Lloyd MP and APPG on Colombia chair Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP. The delegation finished the day observing a session in the House of Lords.

Prior to departing Westminster for the second part of the visit in Belfast, the delegation had an engaging meeting with Latin Americanist Jeremy Corbyn MP, followed by a session observing Prime Minister’s Questions in the Chamber and a working lunch hosted by BGIPU Executive Committee member Baroness Hooper. Issues discussed included trade, the green transition and drug policy reform.

The visit to Northern Ireland kicked off with a series of informative meetings in Stormont, where delegates met with the Speaker and cross-party MLAs. Ensuing meetings with Belfast MPs, the Joint Irish Secretary, the Northern Ireland Office and academic and civic society representatives focused on the state of peace in Northern Ireland, and the paralleled challenges facing the two post-conflict societies.

The BGIPU were delighted to welcome the Colombia delegation to Parliament, and we look forward to consolidating and reinforcing the strong parliamentary links our two countries enjoy.

BGIPU Secretariat