By Kate Bartlett
Often working in dangerous areas of the country, the Colombian National Police are at the forefront of the strategy to reduce cocaine production in Colombia, a major priority for Embassy Bogota. They are responsible for protecting both Colombians and Americans from the dangers of drugs, and as one of the United States’ strongest partners in Colombia, the police are recognized for their dedication by embassy employees and their families. Employee family member and 17-year-old Wiley Skaret was impressed by the police and their dedication to their jobs and decided to use his skill as a pianist to benefit the families of fallen Colombian police officers.
“Every kilogram of cocaine seized by the Colombian National Police represents over 7,000 personal doses that don’t end up in the hands of young people like me back home,” said Skaret. “The Colombian National Police represent the tip of the spear in the all-out battle against cocaine trafficking, and I just feel that it’s right to give back to those who have risked so much.”
Skaret created a nonprofit organization called James 1, which is dedicated to raising university scholarship funds for the children of Colombian police officers who have been killed in the line of duty. Additionally, he traveled throughout Colombia to film a series of music videos that focused on drawing attention to the difficulties for police families. The piano he played in these videos, currently on display at the Colombian National Police Museum in Bogota and signed by Colombian soccer star James Rodriguez, will later be donated to charity in support of the scholarship fund.
Skaret has also performed concerts at various Embassy Bogota events, entertaining crowds with his renditions of the U.S. and Colombian National Anthems. He was also featured at some of the embassy’s high profile events, including the U.S. Ambassador’s Independence Day celebrations in Bogota and Cartagena. To date, Skaret’s advocacy has raised more than $60,000 in scholarship funds and has brought pride to Embassy Bogota’s mission.
Kate Bartlett is an assistant information officer at Embassy Bogota.