Following his attendance of the 6th Summit of the Americas and a bilateral meeting with his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos, U.S. President Barack Obama took part in a ceremony entitling land to local Afrocolombians.
The following is Obama’s speech held at the beginning of the ceremonial surrender of land that according to local media will benefit some 7,000 families.
This is a historic day with decades, even centuries in the making. For
generations many of you have lived on these lands, toiled these lands,
raised your families on these lands and now from this day forward will
at long last hold title to this land. La Boquilla and San Basilio de
Being here holds a special meaning for me. You know, early in my presidency,
my family and I visited Ghana in West Africa and we visited the historic
cape coast castle. And I'll never forget my two young daughters, the
descendents of Africans and African Americans looking out through the "Door
of No Return" where so many Africans began their forced journey to this
Today we gather in a port city where so many of these Africans arrived inPresident Santos and I just took a tour of this magnificent cathedral
chains and like the brothers and sisters in both our countries and across
this hemisphere they endured unimaginable cruelty. But in their suffering,
which revealed man's capacity for evil, we also see the spirit of this day;
Man's capacity for good, for perseverance, for healing, the believe that we
dedicated to a man of faith, who devoted his life to the least among us, San
Pedro Claver, in the United States Peter Claver. And in the United States
there was another man of faith, the reverend Doctor Martin Luther King who
said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards
justice and that's what's happening today.
Throughout my visit here in Colombia I spoke about the remarkeableAnd that's why today is so important. Giving you and so many Afrocolombians
transformation that's underway in this country. More security, more
prosperity, more hope. And this is a tribute to the perseverance of leaders
like President Santos and you, the Colombian people. But we all understand
that peace is not simply the absence of war. True and lasting peace has to
be based on justice and dignity for every person.
title to this land is part of ending this nation's long conflict. It gives
you a new stake in a new Colombia. QAnd not far from here your ancestors
were bought and sold, going forward Colombia can realize its full potential
by empowering all of its people no matter what you look like or where you
Both our nations have struggled to overcome our painful past. Both keepSo when we look out to these children behind us, these beautiful children,
striving to fulfill our ideals of justice and equality. And I stand here
today as the president of the United States and you can stand here with
title to land and that is proof that progress is impossible.
they have a brighter future ahead of them. But that future will only be
fulfilled if we're making investments in them every single day as Shakira
and the first lady are working to do. As president Santos and I have to
commit ourselves to do. But today is an important first step in creating
that brighter future for them and as you seek peace and prosperity and the
dignity all people deserve I promise you will always have a strong and
steady partner in the United States of America.