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UF conference highlights Latin American issues

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Posted: Friday, February 8, 2008 12:00 am

The 57th Annual Latin American Conference, a two-day UF event that ends today, is working to bring together leaders and scholars from Latin America and the United States.

About 200 students, faculty and residents shuffled in and out of the rooms hosting the "Uniting for Solutions" conference held in the Reitz Union on Thursday, said Juan-Carlos Molleda, conference co-chairman and associate professor in the College of Journalism and Communications.

The college partnered with UF's Center for Latin American Studies for the conference.

The event hosted seminars ranging in topics from education in Puerto Rico to presentations on the socio-economic status of Colombia.

Nelson Colon, president of the Puerto Rico Community Foundation and a Harvard alumnus, spoke about the importance of fostering world-class education through multi-sector partnerships in places like Puerto Rico.

Public relations major Julia Smith took time out of her day to listen to Colon speak.

"On the side of corporate social responsibility, people like to get involved with businesses that are doing good in the world," Smith said.

A presentation followed in which participants discussed the political and economic factors involved in partnership building and focused on the role of trust as an underlying element.

"Latin America is the only region that puts trust in business above all other sectors," said Tim Scerba, CEO for the Mexican branch of Edelman's, a global public relations firm.

Scerba pointed out in his presentation that government is on the opposite end of the spectrum, receiving little trust from the public.

"Government needs to communicate and be as transparent as businesses are," he said.

Scerba applauded young professionals for the trust they place in business and their revived support of media outlets.

The conference will wrap up today with a representative from the United Nations, who will present a program called "Assessing the Quality of Partnerships" at 9:15 a.m. in Room 282 of the Reitz Union.

At 1:30 p.m., the "Strategic Corporate Communication Promoting Sustainable Relationships" discussion will be held in the same room.

The event will culminate with a reception scheduled for 6 p.m. in Emerson Alumni Hall, featuring Latin American music by the Carlos Beltran Ensemble.

Welcome to the discussion.