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[] Microsoft to open computer training centers for ex-combatants in Colombia

Windows to Peace, sozusagen. ;-)

Microsoft To Open Computer Training Centers For Ex-Combatants In Colombia

October 20, 2006 11:40 a.m. EST
Shaveta Bansal - All Headline News Staff Writer

Bogota, Colombia (AHN) - Software giant Microsoft Corp. has agreed to
donate more than $300,000 to teach computing skills to more than 2,000
ex-combatants in Colombia. The move is aimed at reintegrating thousands
of demobilized paramilitaries into nation's economy, who have otherwise
turned to crime after relinquishing their weapons as part of a 2003
peace deal.

Frank Pearl, Colombia's special envoy in charge of generating
private-sector employment for the ex-combatants, on Thursday announced
that the amount received in donation will be used over next three years
to open eight training centers in former paramilitary strongholds.

The announcement comes nearly a month after Colombian President Alvaro
Uribe met Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and requested him to help in
country's peace process.

The donation - $234,000 in cash and $77,000 in software - was announced
Thursday following a meeting at the presidential palace between Pearl
and Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft's international

"The fact an American company is willing to support Colombia's peace
process in such an enduring way sends a powerful message to Colombia's
business community," Pearl, the former head of Valorem SA, the country's
biggest holding company, said in a statement.

According to human-rights groups and the United Nations many of the
paramilitaries have returned to crimes after the 2003 peace deal, noting
that a lack of education and a violent past have hindered their
deployment in civilian jobs.

The contribution by Microsoft will also be used to develop an employment
database that will keep a record of career ambitions of former fighters
and will match their skills with the needs of employers.

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