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Tourism Campaign Stirs Controversy in District

Sept 08--From the Lincoln Memorial to Chinatown, a campaign using larger heart statures is drawing attention to street corners around the District.

The 40 hearts scattered throughout the city are part of campaign called 'Columbia is Passion,' an effort by the Columbian government to change the perception of the country and boost tourism.

"Our purpose is to bring a little piece of Columbia and let everybody know this is more than what you thought," said Maria Lacouture, Columbia is Passion general manager.
Claudia Higuera and her cousin came out to celebrate; excited people in the U.S. are getting a chance to see their native country as they remember it. "It's just nice. It's warmth, it's love," Higuera said. "Columbia is passion. There's positive things about it - its culture, music dancing."

But not everyone believes the show of hearts is about boosting Columbia's tourism. Members of the Columbia Human Rights Committee, for example, see the statues as an attempt to get Congress to pass the Columbia Free Trade Agreement, something they believe will hurt Columbian workers.
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