Colombia Calling - The English Voice in Colombia

In the final episode of the Colombia Calling podcast for 2019, we welcome Bogotana Juliana Cuccaro on the show to speak to us about some of the environmental challenges facing Colombia.

Juliana Cuccaro is fresh from completing her MA in Science Communication at the University of the West of England in Bristol - no she hasn't developed a west-country accent - and she is keen to start working on reporting on environmental and science issues affecting Colombia.

So, we get her on the line in Bogotá to discuss the environmental reality here in Colombia, it's not pretty, but there are good news stories out there too, from the Caribbean coast to the high altitude paramos and the pacific jungles, there's something going on everywhere in this megadiverse country.

Tune in to an episode dedicated to the environment and one which you the listeners, called out for. Thank you all so much for tuning in this 2019.

Direct download: RCC_305.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Michael Sichenzia is looking out for the underdog and as an investor in a small furniture business in Yumbo, southwest Colombia, close to the city of Cali, he has a vested interest in the stability and economy of the country. We get him on the line from Florida and speak to him about various topics, most importantly and timely are of course the way in which the current protests in Colombia could affect business and foreign direct investment.

Our conversation bounces along taking in some fascinating threads, of interest to anyone who has been observing the turbulence in the region of late and we discuss the misconceptions surrounding Colombia from overseas, the fears of a socialist revival, the reality of a potential dictatorship in Colombia and how Colombians need to shed the subservient colonial mindset which still persists to this day.

Tune in to hear Sichenzia speaking of Colombia's impisonment by her past and how a self-sustaining economy can allow us the base with which to do good.

Direct download: RCC_304.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

You'll all remember Daniel Eggington from Ep277 where, from his home in Birmingham, England, he told us of his plans to cross the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama in December 2019. Well, Eggington is back and in Medellin and speaks to us on the line to keep us updated about his plans.

Teeming with snakes, insects and poisonous plants, the Darien Gap crossing, in particular where Eggington plans to go, is considered one of the most brutal and dangerous adventures in the Americas. Then, if you can master the natural elements, you have the bandit side of things to consider. The Darien Gap is notoriously lawless, left wing guerrillas, right wing paramilitaries, regular bandits and nefarious opportunists use this area for the transhipment of people, drugs and weapons. In short, they don't want you here.

So, as I did in Ep277, I tried to impress upon Eggington the risks involved in this extreme hike, but, he is going ahead with it and so, what is there left for me to do but to wish him all the best and to promise to check back in for a final podcast once he's out on the other side, possibly around 2 January 2020.

Tune in to hear about the fearless or foolhardy expedition which Eggington is about to embark upon.

Direct download: RCC_303.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

It is a great pleasure to welcome seasoned conflict correspondent Toby Muse on to the Colombia Calling podcast this week to talk about his new book, "Kilo: Inside the Deadliest Cocaine Cartels―from the Jungles to the Streets."

Muse takes us on a literary journey through each level of the cocaine underworld which is fueled by the appetite for the drug in America and Europe. In his book, he shows the reader inside Colombia’s notorious drug cartels to offer a never before look at the drug trade.

Following a kilo of cocaine from its production in a clandestine laboratory to the smugglers who ship it abroad, he reveals the human lives behind the drug’s complicated legacy.

Reporting on Colombia for the world’s most prestigious networks and publications, Muse gained unprecedented access to the extraordinary people who survive on the drug trade—farmers, smugglers, assassins—and the drug lords and their lovers controlling these multi-billion dollar enterprises. Uncovering stories of violence, sex, and money, he shows the allure and the madness of cocaine.

We discuss journalism, Colombia and the cocaine trade on this fascinating episode. And, most importantly, you can pre order Muse's book on Amazon. (

Direct download: RCC_302.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Nationwide strikes began in Colombia on November 21, originally called by unions protesting against proposed pension and labour reforms, then the discontent grew to include protests against the killing of 18 minors in Caqueta - bombed by the airforce attacking a dissident FARC camp -, the killings of members of an indigenous community in Cauca and the possibility of legalizing fracking in Colombia, the legalization of hunting sharks for their fins.

It doesn't end there, people are protesting corruption, teachers and students are protesting the lack of funds for education, police brutality and on the list goes...

So, it appears that the unrest sweeping through Latin America has reached Colombia, where the simmering of discontent, present for decades, has been brought to the surface by 15 months of the inoperative government of President Ivan Duque.

So, with Adriaan Alsema, the director of Colombia Reports, we discuss some of the reasons behind the protests and some of the events and scandals which have taken place and why.

Tune in to this episode to understand the current unrest in Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_301.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

In a critique of the pornographic webcam industry, Maud Madlyn and Andres Montes Zuluaga go where many have never even considered going, they sign up to become webcam models in order to better understand the dynamics behind this business to open a debate around sexual violence and gender violence in Colombia.

The figures which accompany the rape, abuse and murder of women and girls in Colombia is startling if not horrific and so these two actors from the Defiant Reality - Theatre for Change entity, decided to explore this side of things in order that we may discuss it further and hopefully together try and re sensitize ourselves once again to this issue.

By taking on the world of webcams, a huge business in Medellin and Cali, Maud Madyly provides us with an insight into the violence simmering beneath the surface in these chatrooms and how the whole process works.

What Madlyn and Montes Zuluaga have put together is a documentary, which is performed live on stage, with live interactions streaming from their own webscams and the chatrooms of their viewers. If it seems unreal, it's because the idea is incredibly progressive and creative.

Tune in to hear about the darker side of the webcam world in Colombia, from a man and a woman, who decided to explore it for themselves, as the observed.

Direct download: RCC_300.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Charles Massey from Ottawa joins us once again (hear his Bollywood in Barranquilla Ep215) to entertain the colombia calling podcast listeners with a Kishore Kumar bollywood song, sung live for us here in Bogota.

But, while we discuss Massey's life since he moved back to Canada after his time as a teacher in Barranquilla, we get to know our interviewee a little more and are even privy to an exclusive reading of one of his poems.

Reflecting on his experiences in Colombia and Barranquilla, Massey is able to share a little more about how his time here, one year ago, has changed his outlook on life and perhaps in what he is seeking from life.

Tune in for a personal but fun look at one man's desire to share and understand cultures.

Direct download: RCC_299.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Hailing from Texas, Dylan Baddour cut his teeth in journalism before heading down south to Colombia. Here, he reports on issues talking place in Colombia and the fall out from the humanitarian tragedy currently on-going in Venezuela.

Perhaps my favourite piece written by Baddour is about former FARC guerrillas, who are trying to make a life of it beyond the reintegration camps run by the government.

"Another battle, key to the chance of maintaining peace after more than 50 years of civil war, is being waged deep in the Colombian countryside, where former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas are struggling to build new lives after decades of conflict." (

So, we explore this story and others by Baddour, hear of the journalistic process and amount of patience required to earn respect and gain confidence of former guerrillas and how there's plenty of waiting around.

Tune in for a master class in editorial judgment, journalism and candour with a rising star in the reporting world. Check out Baddour's website at:

Direct download: RCC_298.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Adam Isacson of WOLA (The Washington Office on Latin America) needs no introduction to the latin americanists amongst us, but, suffice it to say that it was an honour to invite him on the Colombia Calling podcast and hear his thoughts about recent events here in Colombia.

As the Director of Defence Oversight for WOLA, Isacson's remit takes in all of latin america and now includes border issues such as those occurring right now on the Mexico/ US frontier and so, we manage to catch him for a few short minutes in Bogota to discuss: President Duque's speech to the UN, the future for former president Alvaro Uribe, the reality on the ground in Colombia's far-off regions such as Choco and Arauca and so much more. Frankly, 35 minutes is nowhere near long enough with one of the most knowledgeable voices for human rights in the region.

Tune in and enjoy and be sure to check out his website at:

Direct download: RCC_297.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

We are incredibly fortunate to welcome freelance foreign correspondent Steven Grattan on the Colombia Calling podcast this week as we managed to snare him before he was off into the wilds reporting on the latest story from Colombia
Grattan has been based in Bogotá since 2013 and he's been incredibly busy.

He is the co-founder of English language newspaper and website The Bogota Post, a project he worked on until 2015. He reports on a regular basis for Reuters news agency and has also published in The Guardian, VICE, Al Jazeera, IRIN News, among others. And so, we welcome him on the podcast to discuss some of his recent adventures and stories and his love for the border city of Maicao!

Check out his writing here:

Direct download: RCC_296.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Ervin Liz has appeared on the Colombia Calling podcast on two previous occiasions, firstly discussing the Colombian Coffee Connection (Ep201) and then the protests in southwestern Colombia in April (Ep267) and now he's back, as the President of the Colombian National Committee for the United World College (UWC), and sharing with us a little about how his experience of international travel and education broadened his mind and made him the person he is today.

When Ervin left for Norway in 2010 aged 16, he had never even been to Bogota, never been on an aeroplane and indeed, spoke no English. So, imagine the challenges which he confronted and bested to establish himself in the UWC school in Norway.

Now, Ervin employs the lessons he learned in Norway of tolerance, environmental sustainability, education for peace and international understanding to Colombia and in his everyday life as director of the Colombian Coffee Connection ( where money from sales returns to Ervin's community region of Tierradentro in Cauca.

And, as the President of the National UWC committee in Colombia, he is in part responsible for choosing the 14 applicants from his home nation to study at UWC. To fin out more, check out and tune in to hear how one young man from Tierradentro is making a change in Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_295.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

The last time Irish singer songwriter Kevin McCaffrey joined us on the Colombia Calling podcast, it was September 2016, the peace accords in Colombia hadn't been signed and we were discussing parallels between these and the accords in Ireland. Fast forward from Ep157 to Ep294 and McCaffrey has now lived in Cali for 10 years, performed before an immense crowd at a huge music festival and will be releasing his new EP "Confressions" on November 20.

So, it was time for us to get back together and talk music and the evolution of the live music scene in Cali. McCaffrey shares with us the growth, the internationalisation and how the scene there continues to develop. Before signing off with McCaffrey, we give you a sneak peek at his single and hope that you will all share the good vibes, tune in to his account and leave feedback.

Direct download: RCC_294.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

After a chance meeting in a restaurant in Cusco, Peru, Susana Bueno Lindo and Tony Aiello married a few years later and life has brought this native of Colorado to live in his wife's home city of Bogotá, Colombia. But, this serendipitous tale does not end here, now, the husband and wife team are working hard to ensure that they can learn from and also teach new practices to rural midwives in some of the most impoverished, conflict affected and isolated regions of Colombia.

To put this into context, a high percentage of midwives in rural Choco have never received any formal medical training, yet, they are masters of their trade. With no desire to question their knowledge, Susana, who is an OBGYN and Tony's only wish is to help save lives and provide things like blood pressure meters and training in how to prevent haemorrhaging.

Hear how this remarkable couple are ensuring that each birth is a humanized event and takes into account the traditional practices and beliefs of the community in question. Midwives will hike mountains, ford streams and travel through the most inhospitable regions to deliver children, Tony and Susana just want to help this. During this process, they have met some of the most incredible individuals such as Pasha, a midwife since she was 13 years of age, and who has delivered some 7000 children.

Tune in to hear about their initiative and if you can spare a few dollars, contribute to their crowdfunding page.

Direct download: RCC_293.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:06pm EST

October is almost upon us and with it comes Colombia's local and regional elections which should be a litmus test for President Ivan Duque's popularity and mandate. So, we at Colombia Calling reached out to Sergio Guzman of Colombia Risk Analysis ( to provide us with a breakdown of what to expect and what machinations are in the works.

Hear us discuss the political landscapes in the Pacific and southwest of Colombia in particular in the ports of Buenaventura and Tumaco, the strategic corridors and troubled areas of Cauca, the Caribbean coast and finally the all-consuming battle for the position of mayor of Bogotá.

Guzman breaks down Bogotá's elections and reviews each of the candidates including Carlos Galan, Claudia Lopez, Hollman Morris and Miguel Uribe Turbay plan on taking the coveted seat.

All in all, we do some justice in 40 short minutes to put together a summary of what is taking place politically in Colombia and what are the main issues at stake. Tune in to bring yourself up to speed and check out the new report Guzman has published as an overview to the whole process.

Direct download: RCC_292.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

When we think of traditional medicines from the Amazon, our thoughts immediately turn to vines of Yage or Ayahuasca, and so, while we do discuss this vine with Colombian Anthropologist Hernando Echeverri, we also explore more of the varities which grow in the region of the Putumayo.

Speaking with the authority of Michael Taussig, Echeverri shares with us experiences about his period of investigating and studying traditional medicines, following ancient medicinal routes through the Putumayo and learning from shamans in the region.

Echeverri tells us about how the people of the city of Mocoa have been turning to traditional and ancient medicines to cope with the trauma of the aftermath of the disaster which befell the community in 2017 when a landslide killed more than three hundred people.

Tune in to a fascinating episode on amazonian medicines and practices.

Direct download: RCC_291.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

On Ep290 of the Colombia Calling podcast it's a great honour to welcome Calgarian, Kaleigh Kuchinski on to the show to talk about her work with Agriteam Canada Consulting, an agency which enables communities in zones designated for extractive industries to reach a greater transparency and best practices.

To keep this simple, an explanation would be to reach an overarching goal of comprehensive transparency and accountability in the governance of natural resources, from the decision to extract to the granting of concessions, the collection of revenues and the management of resource revenues. And so, Kaleigh is working on this in the departments of Antioquia, Meta and Putumayo.

Hear about her passion for her work and for Colombia and indeed her desire to keep road cycling and training for triathlons which keep her here in her adopted homeland, far from home of Calgary, Canada.

Direct download: RCC_290.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Election fever is upon us in Colombia as all local positions are up for grabs across the country and the contest will come to a head in October. 

For those of you familiar with my work, you will know that I am fascinated by local elections here and the machinations taking place in the barrios, not just in Bogotá but all over the country. This week on the Colombia Calling podcast we have a great opportunity to hear all about local elections with a hopeful candidate running for the Alianza Verde party, Diego Laserna, giving us the inside track. 

Laserna is an activist for Bogotá and he clearly loves his city, his phrase, “Lo que es con Bogotá es Conmigo” is literally a challenge to anyone who wants to speak ill of the city or disrespect her. Educated at Columbia University in New York and MIT in Boston, Laserna is bringing his knowledge to his hometown. 

Tune in for an excellent episode about local politics in Bogota and the level-headed proposals from a young urbanist about water protection, criminality in the city and of course, transport. 

As Laserna (No26 on the votin card) likes to say, "Bogota Necesita Mas Nerdos," Or, "Bogotá Needs More Nerds."

Direct download: RCC_289.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:50am EST

Many of us have dreamt of making the move overseas and opening a small business, there are those of us who have done and those amongst who sit idly by, but Australian expat in Bogota, Darren Crockett is far from the latter. 

Moving to Colombia from Germany with his Colombian wife, Crockett launched an ambitious plan to open up the "Gourmet Burger Bar," serving, as you would expect, hamburgers, vegetarian and vegan options, drinks and finger foods. And it's been a success as he and his wife have opened a second site in Chapinero (Calle 45 and Caracas) to compliment the first location in the district of Englativa. 

Crockett and his team have plenty of ambition, hoping to open further locations soon and seeking investors. Tune in to this episode No 288 of the Colombia Calling podcast to hear about a success story and the trials and challenges that he has bested along the way. 

You can find and follow the Gourmet Burger Bar on Instagram and Facebook

Direct download: RCC_288.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

This week on the Colombia Calling podcast, we talk to Sam Castañeda Holdren, a transplant from the US to Medellin where he has launched the successful, "Out in Colombia," travel agency. 

Out in Colombia ( is a socially responsible LGBT travel and tourism agency specializing in tailor made and concierge-style travel to Colombia. We discuss how people have responded to a LGBT travel agency in this part of the world and some of the challenges faced. 

Sam relocated to Medellin, Colombia in early 2015 after making his first trip in 2013 to study Spanish at a local language school. Originally from California, he's spent time in Phoenix, Tucson and Boston, where he advocated for equality, working for various LGBT foundations, advocacy groups and community centers.

So be sure to tune in to the episode to hear about the success story of another expat in Colombia who saw a niche in the market and an opportunity and is making something of it.

Direct download: RCC_287.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

On the Colombia Calling episode this week we get to speak to Colombian science journalist Tania Valbuena in Bogotá. After spending time in the Colombian military, she moved into public health policy and epidemiology before decided that journalism was her true passion. Now, she works in ensuring that the projects and discoveries made by scientists in the global south can be shared and communicated to the people. We talk about resiliant communities, vulnerable communities, her work in the district of Usme with sdisplaced people from the Pacific coast and how the city of Medellin came to win the right to host the 2021 congress for the World Federation of Science Journalists. Tune in to a fascinating show which gives an insight into science for peace here in Colombia

Direct download: RCC_286.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

On Ep285 we welcome back Wally Broderick (Ep135 Prisons in Colombia) who is now involved in a fascinating project of brewing craft beers with ex FARC guerrillas now reincorporated into Colombian society. 

In the area La Fila of the municipality of Icononzo in the department of Tolima, location of the "Territorial Space for Training and Reincorporation" ETCR Antonio Nariño, inhabited by ex-guerrillas of the FARC EP, a group of men and women prepare 150 liters of beer weekly. 

This beer is known as "La Roja", and can be easily recognized by the telltale revolutionary star on the label. 

This venture began in mid-September 2018, and by all accounts is now a success with various bars, pubs and restaurants around the country stocking the irsh-style brew.

Direct download: RCC_285.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Sometimes we lose sight of where we are and why and this can very much be the case here in Colombia. On occasions, the politics permeates life all too deeply and perhaps the expat experience in this south american nation can be something quite different than what one expected. 

So, it is a great pleasure on this Ep284 of the Colombia Calling podcast to take a step back and remind ourselves why we come to Colombia. To this end, we speak to an avid listener of the podcast in Idaho, Jeff Brown, who will be coming to the country for the first time later in 2019. 

Allow this episode to remind you about your excitement of coming to Colombia for the first time and what your apprehensions and expectations may have been

Direct download: RCC_284.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Mosquito-borne diseases, such as Zika, malaria or Chikungunya, continue to be a huge health problem in Latin America, including in Colombia. Every year over one million people die worldwide from mosquito-related diseases.
On Ep238 we have a great opportunity to learn about how silicon valley is collecting data in the city of Cali and employing it to help map out breeding grounds for mosquitos carrying the Zika or Dengue virus. Premise ( is the company in question and Daniela Rubio, the Program Manager joins us on the line from Mexico City. 

To provide you with a little information and background: The primary way of controlling mosquitos is by removing their breeding grounds which are generally found in containers with standing water. Vector surveillance and vector control require government workers to cover vast terrain performing time and labor intensive activities. Often the local governments lack a large number of resources needed to perform these tasks.

Premise’s solution works to fill information gaps for cities by empowering local citizens to collect data on positive breeding sites in their communities. Through the Premise App, local citizens are able to complete different Zika monitoring tasks. These include walking mapped routes, inspecting public spaces and homes, asking questions, taking photos and even destroying breeding sites. The tasks are co-designed with local health authorities to train an average citizen to identify and destroy mosquito breeding sites that can be found on a regular street, public park or in a house.

So, tune in to hear a fascinating episode about how technology is implementing change in Cali and improving lives.

Direct download: RCC_283.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:01am EST

I love this yearly episode where we get to kick back and chat to Brian Murphy and Dave Proctor about La Leyenda mountain bike race in Colombia. For those who have not heard any of our previous interviews with the race founder Murphy and the Comms director Proctor, La Leyenda del Dorado is a UCI accredited event and is Colombia's most prestigious multi-stage mountain bike race, where adventurous professional and amateur cyclists from around the world race side by side. 

As formidable as it is breathtaking, the Leyenda route tackles an extraordinary variety of terrains and climatic conditions – tropical river valleys, sweeping singletracks through stunning coffee plantations, jungle and snow topped volcanoes. 

While it sounds that we are enjoying a few pints together as we put this conversation down, I can assure you that the guys are in Cali and I am in Bogotá, but all the same, it's great to hear about the new developments in the race, the evolution of the style and the new additions being presented for 2020. Perhaps closest to my heart and interests is the fact that La Leyenda is designed to give back to Colombia, not only as a phenomenal and positive window on the country but also on the ground where their social responsibility has led to funds being put forward to help with the construction of part of a school in one of the towns visited along the race route. 

Tune in for an upbeat good news story about Colombia

Direct download: RCC_282.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Enfant terrible, journalist and director of the most read news website in English about Colombia, Colombia Reports, Adriaan Alsema can be an interesting character to track down and engage in conversation. Of course, you'll all be familiar with his voice and his news style given that he's been contributing the news segment for the "all new" Colombia Calling podcast style in 2019, and the results have been astonishing. Increased downloads and listeners, broader reach and indeed, more emails to me from happy fans. 

So, we felt that it is time once again to have Alsema back on the show and to talk about the current goings on in Colombia. We discuss corruption, the new political movements taking place, President Duque, the issues surrounding the flight of ex FARC guerrilla Jesus Santrich and delve into a deeper theme of a potential 21st century revolution. At least, that's how Alsema sees it and he's definitely worth listening to on this front. 

So tune in for an interesting look at Colombia this week with me your Colombia Calling host, Richard McColl and the Director of Colombia Reports, Adriaan Alsema.

Direct download: RCC_281.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EST

Owner of mi casa petite- tiny house hotel - (on its way to being the first of its kind in Colombia). A resilient young woman born and raised in London to muslim-Nigerian parents. Spent 7 years living and working in Australia in the government and the not for profit sectors. She's restless and likes to get things done, but she's patient and is very much on a journey to setting up her business in Colombia. Navigating Colombia's business world has been a work in progress for her and she is learning a lot along the way as well as empowering others.

A must-listen to anyone considering starting a company in Colombia

Direct download: RCC_280.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

What is your dream? To make a change in this world? It sounds unrealistic, but we all possess an ability to open minds, learn from one another and to help. This is what Maud Madlyn and her partner Andres Montes Zuluaga have been doing with their Casa Nomada and Defiant Reality - Theatre for Change foundation. 

In choosing to locate themselves in the coastal town of Tolu in the department of Sucre on the Caribbean coast, Maud and Andres found a place where the culture existed but needed a little help in coaxing it out. So, in broadcasting movies in the street just like Cinema Paradiso, organizing musical workshops and theatre groups, Maud and Andres created an open space for dialogue, humour, reflection and joie de vivre. 

So, we reflect with Maud on the project in Tolu and now, they plan to move on to the Pacific coast to the port city of Buenaventura. In going against the grain, there will undoubtedly be challenges ahead, but Maud and Andres are set in their way and we hope to be able to discuss their Buenaventura experience here once it comes to an end.

Tags and Keywords: Maud Madlyn, Andres Montes Zuluaga, Tolu, Buenaventura, foundation in Tolu, foundation in Buenaventura, colombia podcast, colombia calling podcast, podcast about colombia, richard mccoll colombia calling, richard mccoll journalist, richard mccoll colombia

Direct download: RCC_279.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Malcolm Linton is a British-American photographer known for his images of conflict and humanitarian crises. Since 1989 his photographs have appeared in magazines including Time, Newsweek, Der Stern, Paris Match and National Geographic. In 2015 he published a book about the HIV/AIDS emergency in Tijuana, Mexico, Tomorrow is a Long Time. 

Since 2016 he has been working on a photo project about the last days of the FARC rebel movement in Colombia entitled Metamorphosis. I am happy to say that in 2019, the book is now available and you can find it in all good bookstores in Colombia: METAMORPHOSIS: GUERRILLAS IN SEARCH FOR PEACE. 

So, we discuss the photography process when embedding yourself with an outfit like the FARC, how Maolcolm secured permission to be in their camps, what kind of photos he took and how the book has been received. So, tune in!

Direct download: RCC_278.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Hailing from Birmingham in the UK, Daniel Eggington is a keen adventurer and his latest challenge is to cross the infamous Darien Gap from Colombia to Panama. 

For those unaware of this stretch of land which connects South to Central America, the Darien Gap is a remote, roadless swath of jungle on the border of Panama & Colombia. It is known as a drug smuggling, people trafficking and lawless corridor between the two countries, it’s rarely seen by outsiders, and for good reason. 

The Darien has an almost mythical quality to it — a mysterious land full of exotic plants, rare wildlife, indigenous people and dangerous paramilitary groups. And Daniel Eggington plans to do this solo in December 2019. 

We chat to Daniel ( to find out why he wants to do this dangerous trek of roughly 60 miles over 15 days. Here at Colombia Calling, we felt it was our responsibility to explain a number of the risks and also tell Daniel about the fate of a swedish traveller who was tragically murdered by a guerrilla group operating in the area. 

But, Daniel Eggington has his mind made up, tune in to hear about his preparations for this intrepid hike through off-limits Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_277.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

We have had plenty of authors on the Colombia Calling podcast of late and this week, we turn the tables a little and bring Emily Tamayo Maher on the show to give us insights into her fascinating life in Bogotá as an "author coach."

Emily, hailing originally from Iowa via New York and now making her home with her husband and son in Bogotá, Colombia is a writer's mentor who helps entrepreneurs find their voice, publish their books and make the difference they were meant to make.

so, in Ep276 we chat to Emily about her work, how it all gets done from an office in Bogotá and hear of the success stories she has had with authors around the world. 

With the Meaning Method Intuitive Program (, Emily designed a one-on-one experience that turns coaches, artists, intuitives and healers into thriving authors. 

So, what are you waiting for? Tune in and find out how you can get that book within you written and out there in to the world!

Direct download: RCC_276.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

This week represents a special show and a change for the Colombia Calling podcast where the interviewer Richard McColl - host of the podcast - is put to task and interviewed by Emma Louise Jay of Conquered by Colombia ( We'll discuss Mompos, Bogotá, life in Colombia and indeed writing. 

So, in the week that was absolutely terrible for Colombia, terrible news reports about our country in the New York Times, the Washington Post, AP and a german newspaper, we take a breather, and discuss something a little lighter!

Direct download: RCC_275.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

You asked, we listened and delivered! Ep274 of the Colombia Calling podcast deals with cycling in Bogotá with none other than one of the original city cyclists, El Mono Nuñez. So, in an enjoyable and flowing conversation, we sit down with el Mono and discuss his book, ‘Mi cicla y yo’, and reflect with a certain nostalgia, a time past in Bogotá. 

The images in El Mono's book hark back to a time past in Colombia, a time of more innocence and space, when Bogotanos felt a sense of belonging in their city and when it may well have been, "The Athens of South America."

So, tune in to hear about cycling in Bogotá through the eyes of a keep cyclist and Bogotano, a man who hitchiked in the 1980's from the capital to Cartagena, who worked as a cycle courier in London and now plies his trade as a voice over artist.

Direct download: RCC_274.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

Oliver Kaplan is an Assistant Professor at the Josef Korbel School of
International Studies at the University of Denver. He is the author of the book, “Resisting War: How Communities Protect Themselves” (Cambridge University Press), which examines how civilian communities organize to protect themselves from wartime violence. He was a Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and was previously a postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University in the Woodrow Wilson School and at Stanford University. As part of his research Kaplan has conducted
fieldwork in Colombia and the Philippines.

So, it is with great pleasure that we invite this expert Colombianist onto Colombia Calling to share much of his research and findings about the peace communities in this country, the conflict and more ahead of the Spanish edition of his book being released in August 2019.

Direct download: RCC_273.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:54pm EST

Mark Litwicki has lived a colourful and varied life and has been a journalist, an academic, an actor and indeed, an author. One constant in his life appears to be his love for Colombia. So, it is a great pleasure to have this Chicago-native on the Colombia Calling podcast this week. 

Litwicki tells us about his arrival in Bogotá all those years ago and how he fell into an old school reporting job for the Colombian Post newspaper. The book, Bogotano Por Accidente, is a loose autobiography of his time in Bogotá during this period, the scrapes, misadventures and of course, cultural observations. 

Interestingly, Litwicki felt that his book would not work in his native English language and opted to write it in Spanish. Get the book at all good stores in Bogotá and of course, tune in to this podcast.

Direct download: RCC_272.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

The HALO Trust was founded in 1988 in response to the global humanitarian catastrophe caused by landmines. The problem was particularly acute in Afghanistan where thousands of civilians were being killed or injured by landmines and their presence was preventing the return of tens of thousands of refugees. So, it is a great honour to have the Director of the Halo Trust in Colombia, Ash Boddy, on Colombia Calling to speak about their work here. 

For more than five decades, illegal armed groups in Colombia have engaged in conflict with the government. Improvised explosive devices or IEDs, (classified as landmines in Colombia) have been laid throughout rural areas, devastating local communities. For years, according to Landmine Monitor, Colombia was ranked as the country with the second number of landmine victims in the world. According to the National Authority, there have been over 11,600 mine and UXO victims in Colombia since 1990, were 39% correspond to civilians. 

Boddy walks us through the projects currently underway in Colombia and how the Halo Trust works. By January 2019, HALO Colombia had cleared a total of 178 minefields (815.399m2), safely destroying more than 600 mines in the process. Additionally, through non-technical survey (NTS) HALO team have reported 876 veredas as landmine free. Together these activities have benefited more than 18,000 people.

The most affected regions in Colombia due to landmines are Antioquia, Meta, Valle, Cauca, Narino and Putumayo.

Tune in to find out more about the Halo Trust and their work in Colombia

Direct download: RCC_271.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Daniela Galan is a Colombian artist and art historian from Goldsmiths University. She is also a former lawyer and philosopher of Los Andes University, with a five-year background in education and corporate training. 

Her research as a philosopher and art historian has concentrated on exploring the concept of nature and understanding how this concept has been constructed through historical and political influences. She has concentrated her art history research in Latin American art history with an emphasis on female artists.

And so, that brings us to AMALGAMA. Amalgama is an exhibition devoted only to female Latin American artists. This exhibition will take place in London in May 2019 as a part of FLAWA the first Festival of Latin American Women in Arts in the UK, promoting women working in film, music, poetry and visual arts. And we get the opportunity to discuss latin american art with Daniela here on the Colombia Calling podcast. Tune in to hear about the need for greater equality in the art world.

Direct download: RCC_270.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Hailing from Villavicencio and then growing up in California, Alma Quiroga has plenty of stories to tell about both the Llanos and the transition her life took when her family decided to transplant itself to the US. The question of identity ran deep and Alma found herself in a tug of war between her Colombian roots and her American home. These existential crises have led her to becoming a Business Storytelling Consultant, and after working for years in this role in the US, she has brought her progressive methods to Colombia. 

On Ep269 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we have the great pleasure of sitting down with Alma to discuss how her business has prospered in Colombia - traditionally a conservative country in this respect - what it is she actually does and plenty of anecdotes along the way. 

Tune in to hear how Alma Quiroga is revolutionizing the workplace for Colombian companies. Check out her website at

Direct download: RCC_269.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Between 1810 and 1825, 7,000 English, Scottish and Irish mercenaries sailed to Gran Colombia to fight against Spanish colonial rule under the rebel forces of Simon Bolivar. Their motives were mixed. Some travelled for money, others travelled for honour. With author and academic Matthew Brown, we explore the lives of these men - their encounters with other soldiers, indigenous people, local women and slaves - as recounted in documents that fall outside the usual remit of military, political and economic historians. 

Dr Matthew Brown - our guest on Ep 268 of the Colombia Calling podcast - considers the social and cultural aspects of the presence of these `foreigners', and shows how they were an essential part of the revolution which eventually gave South America its freedom. Using archival research from England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia, Adventuring Through Spanish Colonies clearly shows the active role that these mercenaries, informal outriders of the British Empire, played in the creation of Latin America as we know it today.

Tune in to Ep 268 for an unrivalled account by one of the foremost historians on this subject, as he discusses these topics and more.

Direct download: RCC_268.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Many of you based in Colombia will have seen the impacting images of the strikes and blockades in southwestern Colombia, principally in the departments of Cauca and Huila. Who is protesting and why? Well, we find out who and included are farmers, afro colombian communities, coffee growers and indigenous people, who are up in arms at the government of President Ivan Duque and his failure to deliver on promises and agreements. 

So we talk on this Ep267 of the Colombia Calling podcast to Ervin Liz, a member of the indigenous Nasa people and who hails from Cauca and who can provide us with a far more complete picture of what is going on. You'll remember Ervin Liz from Ep201 in 2017 when we discussed his fair trade, organic coffee company, "The Colombian Coffee Connection." 

The idea on this Ep 267 is to uncover some of the myths and half truths about the protests and blockades and inform people out there about what is happening in southwestern Colombia. Will the weak mandate of President Duque come through? 

And, lest we forget, there is also a news update segment from the Director of Colombia Reports, Adriaan Alsema as well.

Direct download: RCC_267.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:47pm EST

Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt was the world’s most famous hostage and in a massive surge of good luck, the Director of, "2320 Days in the Jungle," a documentary about Ingrid Betancourt made by award-winning director Angus Macqueen is in Mompós at the same time as Colombia Calling and tells us a little bit about the making of the film. 

We learn about Betancourt and also speak of Macqueen's other films such as, "Cocaine," and "El Chapo", as well as about his latest project with Diego Maradona. Tune in to learn about these characters.

Direct download: RCC_266.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Yana Shevkirova came to my attention a few months ago after having written a compelling article about Bogotá on her website,, entitled: "A City that Vacillates." So, it is with great pleasure that this Londoner with roots in Bulgaria and beyond and with a background in, Peace and Conflict Studies and Intelligence and International Security should join us on the Colombia Calling podcast to discuss themes of great interest and importance affecting all of us here today. 

The key items for conversation were, the grievances between individuals and groups in Colombia, the dehumanization of the "other" and the stigma surrounding an enemy. We discuss this and the current political climate in Colombia in addition to some fascinating insights into what is going on in Venezuela from an intelligence perspective. 

Tune in for a timely and profoundly analytical converation based on academia and personal experience.

Direct download: RCC_265.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

This is a very special episode since we have the opportunity to speak once again with our "anonymous" interviewee from Ep 251 (What is happening to the FARC guerrillas in Colombia right now?), who revisits us and shares the most recent findings from the next part of her research. The demobilization, reincorporation and reintegration of the AUC paramilitaries in Colombia. 

We find that there is much ground to compare and contrast between the processes of the FARC and the AUC, but also, a lot to be concerned about too. Most significantly, one common theme is a significant lack of psychosocial help being afforded to people who have committed such atrocities and relive them in their dreams each night. 

Of course, this episode is once again, segmented and a snippet of Colombian news is brought to you by the director of Colombia Reports, Adriaan Alsema. 

Tune in!

Direct download: RCC_264.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

For those, like myself, unfamiliar with José María Córdova, he was also known as the "Hero of Ayacucho", and was a General of the Colombian army during the Latin American War of independence from Spain. Our guest on Episode 263 of the Colombia Calling podcast, Emma Louise Jay, joins us from the town of El Retiro, not far from Córdova's place of birth and his untimely demise. 

Emma is investigating, not only the life and times of Jose María Córdova, but also his relationship with the British Consul at the time, James Henderson. Córdova fell for and was engaged to Henderson's daughter, something which may have caused some friction. 

So, we discuss a little of the politics, history and what is known about José María Córdova and his relationship with James Henderson, a journey which has taken Emma to the depths of the British Archives in London. 

Tune in to an elightening episode surrounding the history of one of Colombia's lesser known military heroes, and enjoy our new format news update from Adriaan Alsema of Colombia Reports.

Direct download: RCC_263.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

For those of you who have been listening to the Colombia Calling podcast for a while, Reno transplant to Colombia's coffee region, Erin Donaldson will be well-known to you already since she has graced this show and shared with us incredible stories from Pereira and the Choco. Now, she is located in Manizales and has launched a fantastic new resource for anyone thinking to travelling, investing or who is just interested in the area's delights. So, check out 

As we learn through Erin's infectious enthusiasm, the cultural offerings in this region are as yet untapped and there is much for the visitor to enjoy. Erin herself has immersed herself in Manizales' world of tango. 

This is a timely episode with the ANATO tourism fair in Bogotá this week and we discuss how Colombia and the Coffee region in general can branch out and appeal to a wider audience. 

Of course, in addition to our informed and entertaining conversation with Erin, as is now the format, the Colombia Calling podcast will be introduced with a news segment provided by Adriaan Alsema, director of Colombia Reports.

Direct download: RCC_262.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

On Ep261 we discuss Alex Fattal's (Penn State) new book, "Guerrilla Marketing: Counterinsurgency and Capitalism in Colombia.'"Reading less like an academic book and more like an in-depth ethnographic study of an advertising company and its role in branding and marketing a conflict. In this circumstance the conflict is in Colombia and this activity, led by the company from its lofty offices in Bogotá, has been labelled as "Militainment," and I cannot think of a better word to describe their work. 

In Fattal's extensively researched book, he analyzes the role of marketing in the individual demobilizing program and the way in which the Colombian government changed their course to wage an anti-guerrilla war. Here we see the belief that successful branding has the ability to reconcile the irreconcilable. 

Aside from the telling accounts of how and why individuals joined up with the FARC guerrillas, one of the key elements for me in this book was the difficulty that Fattal encountered as an "objective" observer. Information was shared with Fattal and people in the government wanted to hear his thoughts and he, correctly, denied them his feedback, leading to friction within the group. 

Listen to the podcst and read this book!

Direct download: RCC_261.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Andrew Wright is one of the long-term transplants from the UK to Colombia. Brought here originally by the banking world and after time spent there, he know oversees - in addition to his day job - the Fundación Buen Punto. 

The Fundación Buen Punto was born in 2014 with the objective of incentivizing sports (initially surf), reaching children and young adults that find themselves in unfavourable situations with limited resources, or some form of physical or psychological disability, and who are at risk of exclusion from society. Now, they also focus on rugby and also Australian Rules. 

With projects in Mosquera, close to Bogotá, Nuqui in Choco on the Pacific coast and beyond, hear about the inspiring work being done to bring sports and values to children in need of options and how to channel it all through sports. 

Check out the website:

Direct download: RCC_260.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

The potential for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in Latin America is huge according to Ep259's guest, Matt Aaron. I for one am a complete newbie to this new form of finance and so, we go through the basics with Aaron and talk about the challenges facing Bitcoin and other coins in South America, but also their very real benefits. 

Additional to the upsides of working with cryptocurrencies in Colombia - providing users with, "censorship resistant money," (more about this term on the podcast), there is an added opportunity for people in Venezuela where the traditional economy has completely collapsed under President Nicolas Maduro to use a currency which will remain practically unaffected by their government's interference. 

Did you know that there will be a cryptocurrency “airdrop” fundraiser to help Venezuelans dropping on May 27 2019? People have been donating funds via a number of different coins to the citizens of the crisis-stricken South American nation — many of whom are refugees. Our advice though, is to not invest all your money in Venezuela's cryptocurrency, the Petro, just yet!

So tune in to find out more on this profoundly interesting episode about the aim to change the market economy as we know it, to something more social and less restrictive. For more information, check out

Direct download: RCC_259.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

We'll all readily remember the images of Bogotá and Medellin being brought to a standstill by student protests in late 2018, marches had been planned for 2019, but after the tragic and nefarious events of Thursday January 17, when 21 people were killed in a bomb attack, all protests were suspended. 

So, in Episode 258 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we sit down with scot Sarah Jack, currently working in the Universidad Pedagogica, to talk about the university, the protests and what the students want from the Duque government.

Hear Sarah's accounts of the university she loves and the students there. Recounting what she knows about tear gas and what to do when you hear the sound of the first "potato bomb," Sarah gives us a balanced and compelling look into the Pedagogica.

Direct download: RCC_258.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:56pm EST

On Ep257 we have the opportunity to talk with Adriaan Alsema the director of Colombia Reports ( the largest English news website in Colombia and discuss the reality of the political landscape here for 2019. 

Unfortunately, the realistic interpretation of events so far in Colombia in 2019, doesn't make for upbeat listening. Continued cases of corruption, the seemingly endless assassinations of social and community leaders, issues in Venezuela and local elections in October make for a tricky year in 2019 for President Ivan Duque's government. 

However, there may be some positive news on the horizon, there may be hope for Colombia, so we ask you, the listener, is Colombia returning to her status of a banana republic or on the threshold of a bright new future?

Direct download: RCC_257.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36am EST

Colombia's Truth Commission was formerly inaugurated in 2018 and has a great deal of issues to deal with, the remit includes most of the following topics: To shed light on the conflict and offer a wide-ranging explanation of its complexity. To promote and contribute to recognition of victims of conflict; voluntary recognition of individual and collective responsibility by those involved both directly and indirectly in the conflict; and recognition by society as a whole that conflict should be both rejected and never repeated. To promote coexistence in the affected areas as a guarantee of non-repetition.

So, it is a great honour and pleasure to host Colombia-expert Michael Evans, Director of the Colombia Project at the National Security Archives in Washington DC ( and to listen him talk about the importance of a robust and focused Truth Commission in Colombia. 

Evans brings a wealth of knowledge to this episode of the Colombia Calling podcast and talks about experiences in Guatemala and his publication, "The Chiquita Papers," about the Chiquita company's involvement in paying off armed groups in Colombia. 

Tune in for an informed and informative discussion about some of the challenges facing Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_256.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST