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Colombian candidate Ivan Duque wants to diversify economy, promote cultural exports

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MiamiHerald / When I interviewed Ivan Duque, front-runner in Colombia’s June 17 presidential elections, one of the things that caught my attention was his plan to turn his country’s cultural activities — including movies, music and fashion design — into major export industries.

Compared to the implementation of the peace agreements with FARC guerrillas and other issues that have dominated the campaign, his idea sounds trivial. But it’s not.

Duque, 41 and the candidate of former President Alvaro Uribe’s right-of-center Democratic Center Party, is an international expert on efforts to turn cultural industries into engines of economic growth.

A pro-business attorney with master’s degrees from American University and Georgetown University, Duque worked for more than a decade as a development expert at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C. While there, he co-authored a book with economist Felipe Buitrago, “The Orange Economy,” about Latin America’s extraordinary opportunities to better monetize its cultural industries.

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