Duque visits Colombia’s Catatumbo region to speak on economy, conflict

Duque visits Colombia's Catatumbo region to speak on economy, conflict 

Colombian President Ivan Duque (r) presides at the inauguration of a palm oil extraction plant on Aug. 9, 2018, in Tibu, Colombia. EFE-EPA/Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda

Tibu, Colombia, Aug 9 (efe-epa).- Colombian President Ivan Duque on Thursday traveled to Tibu in the conflict-ridden Catatumbo region in Norte de Santander province to inaugurate a palm oil extraction plant and seek solutions to the problems of public order in the zone.

The visit to the plant is the first of several events the president will preside at, including a security council at which the security situation in the area will be evaluated after months of confrontations among criminal bands.

Duque will also go to the San Luis Beltran seminary, where he will participate in the Social Dialogue of Catatumbo workshop, which will also be attended by representatives of the community of Tibu along with members of the business sector and other powers that be in this part of Colombia.

The head of state will be accompanied on his visit by Defense Minister Guillermo Botero, as well as by top military and police officials in the province.

With more than 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) planted in palm trees, from which oil is extracted by more than 1,200 small and medium producers, generating more than 7,000 jobs, Catatumbo is one of the most important palm oil producing regions in Colombia.

The inauguration in Tibu of the Extractora Catatumbo S.A. plant, with the president’s attendance, is «a new landmark reflecting the rapid growth and consolidation of this sector in a region heavily affected by conflict and illicit crops,» the Fedepalma national palm oil growers federation said in a statement.