Colombia Calling - The English Voice in Colombia

Colombia a comedy of errors tells the story of all fifty million Colombians, examining the country’s history, people, culture, colombianomics and justice. The first edition of this satirical survival guide was a bestseller in Colombia from the first month of its release. This, the second edition, contains brand new and expanded chapters including: Dating, Beauty, A to B and Justice, which gives the book its name.

The book was written by British writer Victoria Kellaway and Colombian artist Sergio J. Lievano and reveals the secrets behind a nation that has drama and comedy seeped into its bloodstream. The pair study the country with an eye for detail that will surprise everyone, from the most knowledgeable reader to those who don’t have a clue about the country.

From my perspective, this new edition of Kellaway and Lievano's book is a timely update to remind us why we love Colombia and why we should continue to strive to improve her as well. It feels as if, this time around, both authors have decided to pull off the gloves and take a full swing at some of the more pressing issues of sexism, corruption and political indifference, but of course, with a sense of humour and empathy so as to keep the reader involved and interested.

There is an additional editorial maturity all these years later as well. Ideal for all of those out there wishing to learn a little more about our country but in a relaxed matter.

Can you imagine that we had the authors on the podcast, way back in our infancy in May 2014 on Episode 48!? That's 334 episodes ago, how times have changed!

Direct download: RCC_382.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Abducted, cheated and forced to fight in a war that wasn't theirs. Former child soldiers of the FARC recount one of the most shocking yet least known atrocities of Colombia´s civil war in this feature-length animated documentary entitled: "Operación Berlín: The children who fought war in Colombia."

Mathew Charles is a long-time journalist and investigator working in Colombia and covering some of the most difficult topics, embedding himself with the ELN guerrillas or the paramilitaries in order to get the story. This time, his subject is the stories of the the child recruits in the rank and file of the FARC and those that survived and those that tragically perished in a military attack known as "Operation Berlin."

This operation is heralded by the Colombian military as one of its greatest successes in the long-running conflict with the FARC guerrillas and took place in late 2000 and early 2001. New information about the military operation and the nefarious actions of the FARC have been emerging due to the diligence and dogged investigations done by Charles and his team and is revealed in the documentary (available on July 7).

You can revisit an interview with Charles from 2018 here on the Colombia Calling podcast:

Direct download: RCC_381.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

In the context of the on-going #paronacional protests in Colombia, it's time for the Colombia Calling podcast to take a look at another angle of what is going on in the streets, on the walls and all over the underpasses in the country. In short, during the unrest, which began on 28 April 2021, urban art, protest art and graffiti have proliferated to extend and spread the message of the youths' discontent with the status quo in Colombia.

This is our chance to chat to Jahir (Jay) Dimate of the Bogotá Graffiti Tour ( to discuss what is going on with reference to this genre of art, the cultural movement of graffiti and enjoy a conversation that this national strike is far from a: "left versus right debate."

About the Bogotá Graffiti Tour

Bogotá Graffiti Tour started in 2011 when a Aussie street artist and a Canadian graffiti writer decided they wanted to share Bogota’s unique, prolific urban art scene and help expose local artists to a wider international audience. The tour has changed a bit over the years, and it’s now considered one of the best things to do in Bogotá. The team (a group of artists and creative minds) get together just about every week to talk about graffiti, plan how to best help out artists’ projects, and to brainstorm the best ways to bring our own projects to life.

Direct download: RCC_380.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

With the #ParoNacional still on-going in Colombia, we take on the subject of human rights and human rights law in the context of the situation here.

For some background on our expert guests, read on:

Maria Clara Galvis is a lawyer from the Externado University of Colombia. Professor Galvis has graduate studies in Compared Constitutional Law from the Universitá Degli Studi di Geneva. Since 2015, she has been a member of the United Nations Committee against Forced Disappearance and is currently its Vice President. Professor Galvis is also a researcher in the International Law at the Department of Constitutional Law of the Externado University of Colombia. She has been an advisor to the Procurator Delegate for Human Rights (1994-1995), the Attorney General's Office (1997-2000), the Attorney General's Office (2010-2011), assistant magistrate of the Superior Council of the Judiciary (2014-2015) and National Director of Promotion and Dissemination of Human Rights of the Ombudsman of Colombia (2016-2017). He has published academic articles and research on international human rights law, transitional justice, enforced disappearance, business, and human rights, women's rights, and the rights of indigenous peoples. See bio

Veronica Hinestroza is an independent senior consultant and advisor on international human rights law. Her primary focus is on the documentation and investigations of grave human rights violations, particularly torture and ill-treatment, enforced disappearances and arbitrary killings. She is a member of the Steering Committee developing a universal protocol for human rights-compliant, lawful and effective questioning for the United Nations. She was a member of the working group to update the Istanbul Protocol - the United Nation’s Manual for the effective investigation and documentation of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. During over 17 years spent promoting and supporting the development and implementation of IHRL and IHL standards at the national, regional and international levels, Verónica has worked for the World Organisation Against Torture, the German Agency for International Cooperation, the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (Latin America and East Timor), Impunity Watch, the World Bank, the International Centre for Transitional Justice, the Overseas Development Institute, Samusocial and the Externado de Colombia University.

And the subjects we cover in the podcast:

1.How can this unrest be put into context within Latin America (Chile, Nicaragua)?
2.What is going on in Colombia and from a human rights perspective, what is the situation regarding the paro nacional?
3.Police brutality and use of excessive force? As I see it, the paro nacional finds its roots as a social problem yet the authorities are treating it as an issue of “law and order,” does this contribute to the problem of human rights abuses?
4.Why is the government selling a different narrative to foreign governments and what are they trying to do?
5.Who is responsible? We need to discuss who is in charge and who is giving the orders to state forces…is this something which is a collective or individual responsibility. There are reports of disappearances, there are killings and potentially cases of torture in addition to cases of sexual violence…
6.With the issue of the False Positives and the figure: 6402 which is heavily featured in the marches as one of the protestors’ demands, “quien dio la orden,” Colombia is experiencing a very difficult moment in terms of its international reputation.
7.What do you both see as happening now, will there be any significant progress in terms of human rights in the short or long term and what can we expect from the visit of the CIDH arriving on 7 June?

Tags and Keywords: human rights colombia, human right, maria clara galvis, veronica hinestroza, paro nacional, strikes colombia, police brutality, conflict colombia

Direct download: RCC_379.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

On this week's Colombia Calling podcast, we continue on our series relating to the on-going unrest surrounding the #ParoNacional protests in Colombia. With more than a month of daily nationwide demonstrations, Adriaan Alsema of Colombia Reports follows Elizabeth Dickinson (Crisis Group), Andres Bermudez ( and Sergio Guzman (Colombia Risk Analysis) in discussing an important angle to explain what is going on.

Alsema joins us to discuss the role and responsibility of the press in covering the marches and violence, the manipulation of the news and the worrying increase of censorship taking place, not to mention violence directed at members of the media...something which is becoming increasingly the norm.

UNESCO’s findings in a recent report: "Safety of Journalists Covering Protests – Preserving Freedom of the Press During Times of Civil Unrest," reveal a “wider upward trend” in the use of unlawful force by police and security forces, with more than 30 protests impeded by police and security forces last year alone. It details a wide range of abuses journalists face when covering protests, from harassment, intimidation and beatings, to being shot at with lethal or non-lethal ammunition, detention and abduction.

Direct download: RCC_378.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST