Leigh Miller for GlobalAtlanta
Ecuador’s vice president, Alejandro Serrano, is to visit Atlanta, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, to meet with Georgia officials and to solidify a partnership between his government and a medical aid program of the Ecuadorian-American Chamber of Commerce here.

Mr. Serrano was invited to visit Atlanta by Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Craig Lesser and Hemisphere Inc. Vice President of Government Relations Alex Mejia during a Georgia trade mission to Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador, in June.

But Mr. Serrano’s office already had been making plans to receive a shipment of medical equipment collected by Atlanta’s Ecuadorian chamber and other Georgia organizations.

Under the direction of Jaime Altamirano, the chamber’s current president and a local epidemiologist, the chamber and the organization Latinsteps Inc. have collected seven containers worth of medical equipment to send to the vice president’s office for distribution to needy Ecuadorian hospitals.

Latinsteps Inc. also collects medical equipment to send to Colombia and Peru. An additional program headed by Dr. Altamirano, called Merepa, distributes medical equipment to African countries.

The shipment for Ecuador is ready, but the Atlanta groups still need to raise the funds necessary to transport the containers, Dr. Altamirano told GlobalAtlanta. He said hopes Mr. Serrano’s visit will raise the profile of the project, which the vice president’s wife and daughter helped to initiate when they came to Atlanta in April.

During this week’s visit, Mr. Serrano will meet with the Ecuadorian chamber at a private dinner on Friday, Sept. 1, at the World Trade Center Atlanta, during which the chamber is to induct its new officers. Some 70 invited guests are expected.

Dr. Altamirano will be stepping down as chamber president to concentrate on his medical aid programs. Mr. Mejia has been elected as the chamber’s new president.

The new vice president of the chamber is Julio Moreno, assistant director at Berlitz International Inc.; the secretary is Violeta Gomez, representative of Lightyear Inc.; the treasurer is Marcelo Diaz, entrepreneur promoting tourism between Ecuador and Georgia; the director of membership is Paola Diaz, local entrepreneur; the director of public relations is Mireya Montalvo, local healthcare professional, and the director of women’s programs is Rosario Diaz, CEO of Impacto Consulting Inc.

While here, Mr. Serrano is also to speak at a private luncheon for invited Atlanta businesspersons at the Commerce Club on Thursday, Aug. 31, and then will take a tour of the Georgia state capitol. He has a tentative meeting with Gov. Sonny Perdue before being interviewed by CNN Espanol.

On Friday, Sept. 1, he is to meet with Mr. Lesser, and view a presentation about CIFAL Atlanta, the United Nations affiliate that trains municipal officials on various governance, business and policy issues.

On Saturday, Sept. 2, Mr. Serrano is to meet with members of the Ecuadorian community at a brunch held at Dave & Buster’s restaurant in Duluth. The 11 a.m. — 1 p.m. meeting is open to the public.

The Ecuadorian chamber has some 27 members. It was formed in January as a chapter of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The Ecuadorian vice president’s visit comes at a time when tensions are high between Ecuador and the United States over a proposed free trade agreement. The U.S. called off negotiations in May after the Ecuadorian government seized an American oil company operating in Ecuador.

But Georgia officials are continuing to further relations with Ecuador, following the state’s trade mission there in June and visits here by the country’s minister of international trade, industrialization, fishing and competitiveness Tomas Peribonio, as well as Ecuadorian Ambassador Luis Gallegos in June and a leading presidential candidate, Leon Roldos, in March.

Contact Kristina Field at Hemisphere Inc. at (404) 962-4834 for more information. Contact the Ecuadorian chamber at (404) 639-0937.