Singer Shakira returned to her native Colombia on Friday (13Apr12) to discuss the state of education in Latin America.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton jetted to Cartagena to participate in the annual Summit of the Americas, which brings political leaders together to find solutions to problems in the Western Hemisphere.
And singer/activist Shakira, who was recently named a member of Obama's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, jetted in on Friday (13Apr12) to deliver a heartfelt speech pleading for improved childhood development policies.
She said, "I am convinced that by far the best way to fight poverty in Latin America is to invest in the education of all our youths and children, and to do so particularly from the months before they are born. And I firmly believe that this social investment must come not just from government, but from all of us including those in the business community... Inequality in Latin America as you know, is among the worst in the world, and such high levels of inequity are an indictment of the failure of past generations of Latin American political and business leaders to deliver inclusive economic growth.
"But I am not here to cry over spilled milk or to reflect upon the past, but rather to talk about the steps that we can take facing the future to ensure that our generation and nations do not fail again but instead fulfil the enormous potential reflected in their hundreds of millions of young people."
The Hips Don't Lie hitmaker also helped mark the event's official opening by giving a stirring rendition of the National Anthem of Colombia.
The pop star has long been involved with educational issues in her homeland through her Barefoot Foundation, which strives to help disadvantaged students.