Colombianos Ejemplares

They Are Exemplary Colombians. Here are the Winners of the 2021 Edition


Photo source:


17 winners were selected in the 19 th edition of Colombia Ejemplar. The 17 winners were chosen from eleven categories.  The special ceremony took place in the square of the Museum of Modern Art, MAMM, in Medellin. This year, there was a new category created in the event, the Commitment to Covid-19. After taking the time to review each application received from all regions, these were the people and institutions selected. 



The 17 winners were selected from 274 people and institutions that were recognized in previous editions of the event since the debut of the event in 1999. Congratulations to this year’s winners, as they dedicate their lives to make Colombia a better place. Here are a few of our winners!

First we have Jose Maria Acevedo, a Model businessman.


Jose Maria Acevedo. Source: El Colombiano Ejemplar.


Category: Company-Person

City: Medellin, Antioquia 

Jose Maria Acevedo is one of the most vital and well-known businessmen in the history of the Antioquia and Colombian business community. At 102 years of age, Acevedo remains active as the founder of Industrias Haceb. In his long career, Acevedo has received numerous decorations for his dedication and the role he has obtained in generating progress and well-being for thousands of families in Antioquia and Colombia.  

“Mr. Jose is a leader who inspires, with generosity, with humility. He gives us an example by putting people first. Understanding that life is to serve others and generate positive impacts on people.” – Santiago Londono, General Manager of Industrias Haceb. 

Next, we have the guardian communities of the Atrato River. They protect the environment with their soul.



Category: Environment/ Institution

City: Quibido, Choco 

The guardian communities that protect the Atrato River are made up of seven ethnic authorities and organizations of the river basin, settled in fifteen districts of the Chocoan jungle and part of Antioquia. They take action to legal representation of the Atrato River since it was declared as a subject of rights by a ruling of the Constitutional Court in 2016, which ordered the environmental recovery of its basin.

 “I have a message for the people of the UK and I want you all to listen to me. Look after the environment, look after what you have and make good use of what God gave us. As a Guardian of the Atrato river, I know I’m doing that.” – Heylis, young Guardian.

Hammes Reineth Garavito Suarez, a guardian of nature.


Source: El Colombiano Ejemplar.


Category: Environment-Person

City: Bogota, Cundinamarca

This teacher from a town in San Cristobal, in the Colombian Capital, has managed to get the student community to join him in recovery projects of the upper basin of the Funcha River. The Funcha River happens to flow into the Bogota River. Together, Suarez and his students have rescued more than 5,000 tons of solid waste from its waters. They have also planted more than 5,000 plants between native and ornamental. They have also turned it into a bird watching corridor and a place to also watch other species, such as Flora and Faunas. 

“He has the ability to see in others, the youth that one sees in the classroom. They say they are rebellious kids. He doesn’t see rebellious kids, he sees leaders there.” -Edgar Gonzalez, teacher of natural sciences,  Jose Felix Restrepo School. 

Moises Wasserman for his contribution to and technology.


Moises Wasserman. Photo source: Revista Semana/Twitter.


Category: Science & Technology-Person

City: Bogota, Cundinamarca

Moises Wasserman has served as a dean of the Faculty of Sciences and rector of the National University. Wasserman also served as a director of the National Institute of Health. In 1984, Wassmerman received the Alejandro Angel Escobar National Prize for Science, and in 1996, he received the National Prize for Scientific Merit in the category of Researcher and Excellence. 

“Professor Wasserman is very important in our Colombian society because he has that presence, that presence of teaching us all the importance of education and research. I consider that Professor Wasserman is an exemplary Colombian because he does not give up, because he fills us with hope that all that efforts that we make as teachers, as researchers, is important, that we must continue doing it. That we should never throw the towel and always believe that a better country is possible.” -Natalia Ruiz, Vice-Rector for Research at the University of El Bosque.

Yuri Buenaventura exalts the name of Colombia abroad. 


Yuri Buenaventura. Photo source: VEA Magazine.


Category: Colombians abroad

City: Paris, France.Buenaventura, Valle.

The Colombian artist from Valle del Cauca has experienced most of his career abroad, majority in Paris. Though he resides in Paris, Buenaventura has never forgotten his roots, where he came from in Buenaventura. His dedication to the art of salsa has given him 5 gold records in his sales in Europe. Buenaventura also received the title of “Knights of arts and Letters” created and given by the French government. 


Yuri Buenaventura “Salsa” single. Photo source:



The teacher is a person who is for the people. From how he greets a fan, the time he dedicates, the photo he takes, even the projects he starts are to help the community in the Pacific, and they are to help all musicians. He is a person who is constantly thinking of giving. He is a person who is constantly transmitting a message of union, a message of equality, a message of no to racism, no to classism. I think he is a person who is truly a role model for society. A person who has many factors to look out only for him, but is a person who is constantly seeing how to watch over others and how to watch over a region like Colombia that is very vulnerable.” – Hernan Dario Arce, Press Officer

Petronio Alvarez Music Festival, to preserve the culture


Petronio Alvarez Music Festival. Photo source:


Category: Culture- Institution

City: Cali, Valle

Petronio Alvarez Music Festival is the most vital Afro-cultural festival in Latin America. This anticipated festival has been held for 23 years in the Capital of Valle del Cauca. The festival runs for six days, and in those six days, it welcomes more than 600,000 people  with music, food, traditional drinks, and ancestral knowledge of the communities from the Colombian Pacific. 


People dancing in the Petronio Alvarez Music Festival in Cali, Colombia. Photo source: Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty Images.


“The festival has been consolidating itself as the best platform for the visibility of the full Afro culture of the Pacific. At the beginning, it was an exclusively musical festival, and over time it became this platform for several traditional expressions. Like traditional cuisine, traditional drinks, artisans, luteria, the Afro design. There is a saying that if you go to the Petronio Alvarez alone, you go out with friends, go out with family. It is an honor for us to receive this award. It is clearly a recognition of all the effort and work that has been done year after year on this platform to build a country.” – Ana Copete, Director of the Petronio Alvarez Festival. 

Weidler Guerra Curvelo


Weidler Guerra Curvelo. Photo source:


Category: Culture-Person

City: Barranquilla, Atlantico

Curvelo is an anthropologist born in Riohacha, La Guajira. He has experience in Caribbean Studies, Maritime Anthropology, and Cultural History of the Sea. Curvelo has taken charge of spreading the customs and traditions of the Wayuu Culture, from which he originates. He has been Secretary of Indigenous Affairs of La Guajira, Executive Director of the Observatory of the Colombian Caribbean in Cartagena. In addition, he has also been Manager of the Banco de la República in Riohacha and San Andres. 


Children of the Wayuu Tribe in La Guajira, Colombia. Photo source: Getty.


“He has rescued other facets that are not known much about the Wayuu culture. For example, the culinary, how are the fabrics, how are the colors, and how is the mythology.” -Gustavo Adolfo Bell, Personal Friend


The Wayuu People. Photo source:


“He knows how to incorporate and combine that double cultural matrix that he has. The literature, and the western philosophy with the knowledge of the land and the traditions of his Wayuu origin.” – Jaime Abello, General Director of the Gabo Foundation.

Las Golondrinas Foundation, protectors of children


Las Golondrinas Ranche. Photo source:


Category: Children

City: Medellin, Antioquia

Since 1981, the Golondrina Foundation has dedicated their work for the rights of education and nutrition for children in vulnerable situations in neighborhoods located in Medellin , and other districts in Antioquia.  The foundations hold six goals that they work on achieving, emphasizing on: ending poverty, zero hunger, quality of education, decent work and economic growth, reducing inequalities and alliances. 

“Here we find a community full of needs. And we found some hungry children.”-Banca Lucia Vargas, Cofounder of Las Golondrinas Foundation. 



“We are reforming this country; we are making peace from childhood. Coming here gives us life, coming here gives us joy, coming here makes me change, and my gaze towards the other changes.”-Gabriela Santos, Executive Director of Las Golondrinas Foundation.


Cardiovascular Foundation. Photo source:


Cardiovascular Foundation, quality medicine.

Category: Health-Institution

City: Bucaramanga, Santander

The Cardiovascular Foundation in Colombia has one of the most fundamental medical facilities in the country and in Latin America. It was the first institution in the country recognized by the Joint Commission International, a seal that endorses high standards of certified quality. The foundation also uniquely stands out as an important center for research and technological development both in the department of Santander and at the national, and international level.


Cardiovascular foundation. Photo source:


“It is a pure service identity. The philosophy is to serve the community at its best. Like a good Colombian because we do things in the style of the Colombian people. With love, with passion, with responsibility.”-Sonia Estela Ramirez, Corporate Vice President of the Cardiovascular Foundation. 


Andres Aguirre Martinez. Photo source:

Andres Aguirre Martinez, service with soul

Category: Health-Person

City: Medellin, Antioquia

Martinez has been the the general director of Pablo Tobon Uribe for 35 years, and has become a leader.With his example, he leads one of the most outstanding health institutions in the country, and is a vital example of organization and efficacy in Medellin. Aguirre lives up to the motto of the hospital, and the pure passion from his soul, has made great effort to give humanity meaning by the service they provide to the community. 

“Andres is a man, who despite all the triumphs, the challenges he has had in his life, is always talking about the people around him.He is an absolutely family-oriented person. He really enjoys his meetings. He is a man who is spiritual. That for us is supremely important in the family” -Maria Isabel Mesa, Wife



“He is an exemplary Colombian, he works every day, with the best commitment for a better city, for a better hospital, for a better country.” – Nora Lia Salazar, Ex-employee of Pablo Tobon Uribe Hospital. 


Testimony. Photo source:


Casa Luker Foundation, impact in solidarity

Category: Solidarity-Institution

City: Manizales, Caldas

The Luker Foundation is an important laboratory of social innovation whose solutions promote development and equity, through public, private, and academic alliances. The foundation has a mission to initiate economic and social development through their work in national and international alliances, with transformative and high-influential projects based in education and entrepreneurship. This empowers individuals, institutions, and communities. 



“The foundation is dedicated to accompanying, let’s say, this region and to improving conditions in education issues, and in learning issues.”– Marcela Escobar, Director of Manizales Más. 


Ana Rita Russo de Vino. Photo source: photo source:


Ana Rita Russo de Vino, works for  children

Category: Solidarity-Person

City: Barranquilla, Atlantico

In the year 2022, it will mark 25 years since the development of the Program for Psycho-affective Development and Emotional Education. “Un Pisoton,” of the University of the North, a project promoted by Russo, has been changing the lives of thousands of children and their families in Baranquilla and the rest of the country through promotion of emotional education, a notion that expands to teachers and parents. It begins from the defense of rights of children and their psycho-affective and emotional development

“Ana Rita is really a mom for everyone. And she worries a lot about what happens to children. Without a doubt, Ana is a person who was born to serve, so Ana is a person that the world needs.” – Paola Alcazar, Director of Extension Uninorte. 



“For me, Ana Rita is a leader in every sense of the word. A woman with a lot of vision, and that vision has been transformed into reality.”– Luz Gonzalez, Technical Coordinator of the Pisoton Program. 


Photo source:


Cotelco, great contribution to Tourism.

Category: Tourism-Institution

City: Bogotá, Cundinamarca

The Colombian Hotel and Tourism Association – Cotelco – has been promoting the development and professionalization of the Colombian hotel and tourism sector for more than 65 years. The sector, which unfortunately was one of the most affected during the rigorous periods of restrictions due to the pandemic, found in this entity a drive to reactivate its activities in a safe way, providing security and assurance to tourists. 

“Cotelco is the main union in our tourism sector, we have the main affiliated hotels in the country.” -Angela Patrizia Lastra,  National Executive Director of Cotelco. 

Health Personnel of the Armed Forces of Colombia, General Directorate of Military Health

Special category:Commitment to Covid-19-Institution

City: Bogotá, Cundinamarca 

During the course of the pandemic, members of the Reference and Research Laboratory of the Army Health Directorate have been at the forefront and on the front line to support the diagnosis of infections in the military forces. 



“The philosophy of military health is to guarantee the provision of service of the personnel who use the health system of the military force, as well as the active military personnel of the forces that carry out operations throughout the country.” -General Hugo Alejandro Lopez Barreto, General Directorate of Military Health.


General Hugo Alejandro Lopez Barreto, General Directorate of military Health. Photo source: Dirección General de Sanidad Militar Colombia/ Facebook.


Marta Ospina, leadership in the face of the pandemic


Marta Ospina. Photo source:


Special category: commitment to Covid-19-Person

City: Bogotá, Cundinamarca 

Marta Ospina is a doctor who graduated from the Javeriana University with master’s degrees in epidemiology and economics. She currently works as director of the National Institute of Health. Ospina was a substantial person during the Covid-19 pandemic. Under her role as a leader, Ospina has fulfilled a supreme role in the observation and control of this  horrible disease.

“She is a person who despite the difficulties that those of us who work in the sciences in Colombia face, she does not give up, she finds solutions. She knew the limitations that we had to initiate the pandemic, but they were hardly noticed when she began to do all this coordination of laboratories.” – Silvia Restrepo, Vice-Rector of Research and Creacion Uniandes. 



“She is extraordinarily exemplary. I admire her, I respect her, and I love her deeply with the most beautiful love of my heart.” – Jackeline Acosta, Epidemiology Doctor. 


Vanessa Campa | Florida International University

Vanessa Campa is a Senior student at Florida International University majoring in English and minoring in Psychology. Vanessa grew up with a huge Latinx community in Miami, Fl where the majority of the population is Hispanic, and was raised by two amazing immigrant parents. She has a passion for art, photography, humanitarian issues, human rights issues, and telling stories that have an impact on shifting perspectives and educating audiences. She hopes to get into the journalism field to continue her love of storytelling. In her time with the Latina Republic, Vanessa wants to contribute to change the stereotypical narrative of her people and tell inspiring unrecognized stories that need to be brought to light.