the wall sreet journal (blog)

John Leguizamo Feted by Colombia, Juan Valdez

Sept 24--With Fashion Week finis and the UN General Assembly in town, we decided to check out the situation in Colombia and stop by Grand Central Terminal for a celebration inaugurating the country’s new campaign to promote itself as a fun lovin’ nation and honoring the actor John Leguizamo.

As harried, puzzled commuters passed by Vanderbilt Hall, Leguizamo thanked the cordoned-off crowd by dropping a few jocular duds: “I come from Queens. Not my parents, the borough” (thud), kidded the multi-talented, half-Colombian actor who grew up in Jackson Heights. “The first thing people say about Colombia is the drug stuff, which is ridiculous. I say, just say no to drugs. It lowers the value and makes them cheaper.” (thud).

Leguizamo was out supporting the new international campaign “Discover Colombia Through Its Heart,” which features 13-foot, heart-shaped sculptures that were recently displayed around Washington D.C. and are now on view in New York’s Grand Central Terminal. Leguizamo’s introductory remarks aside, the country is also famous for such exports as Shakira, Marquez, Botero, and, of course, coffee. Loitering near the bar waiting for a potent drink of guava and traditional Colombian rum was Andres Santo Domingo, the youngest son of Julio Santo Domingo Sr., the Forbes 400 billionaire and international jet-set figure, whose family — with its vast holdings in beverages, newspapers, television, and more — dominates Colombian business and finance.

Andres, dressed in a dinner jacket and with his oft-photographed fashion favorite wife Lauren, was en route to the New Yorkers For Children Benefit across the street at Cipriani’s (forget Obama gridlock. The Upper East Side last night was clogged with limo’s carrying revelers from the Tod’s book launch to the Colombia fete). Andres was raised on Park Avenue but visits his parents’ home on an island off Cartagena a good three times a year. “Once you go there, you realize it is pretty incredible,” said Andres, a music producer (he owns the Brooklyn label Kemado, whose artists included Langhorne Slim and The Soft Pac). “You’ve got beaches, nightlife, beautiful women, great food. I’ve seen more violence in New York than I’ve seen in Colombia.”
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