Colombia Calling - The English Voice in Colombia

The Colombia Calling podcast has reached its 10 year mark 2013-2023, and it's time to celebrate. So, with that in mind, journalist Emily Hart, takes over and interviews host Richard McColl.

There is banter, there are questions from listeners and there's wine too! Emily expertly guides the conversation through the highs and lows of the podcast during these first ten years, memorable and not so memorable episodes, lessons learned and the evolution of Colombia Calling.

Thank you to everyone for your support and for listening, it has been a great experience and as I say in this recording: "we'll keep coming back if you keep coming back."

Abrazos to everyone from Colombia!

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Mesa Franca needs no introduction to people in Bogotá, but for those considering visiting the Colombia capital, this restaurant, founded by María Paula Amador, Tom Hydzik and Iván Cadena, has gone from strength to strength as one of the pioneers in new Colombian cuisine since its founding in 2016.

Previously, in Bogotá, one would dine out on traditional Colombian fare, delicious in its own right, but a new set of upstarts came to the fore and Mesa Franca is amongst those to lead the charge.

We get to sit down in the restaurant with María and hear about her restaurant story, the challenges, hopes and future plans.

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The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Direct download: RCC_471.mp3
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On this week's Colombia Calling podcast, we talk to Annie McDermott, the literary translator of Lorena Salazar Masso's debut novel: This Wound Full of Fish.

We hear how McDermott interprets Sanchez' depictions and descriptions of Colombia's pacific Choco region, the importance of the land and the Atrato River and the ever present simmering tension of violence in the region.

This is a novel of place, identity and race, a trip through the Colombian jungle, an intimate portrait of motherhood: a vibrant debut novel shot through with magic realism and devastating tragedy.

Buy the book:

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

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Federico Pardo is a Colombian biologist, photographer and documentary filmmaker in addition to being a National Geographic Explorer, 2020. For the past four years he has been working on a documentary to highlight the plight of four critically endangered species of primate in Colombia.

In order to get the information out there to a wider audience, the interactive, immersive experience and documentary called: Salvando Primates (Saving Primates) is being shown in Bogotá's Planetarium until July 16 2023.

A percentage from the proceeds goes towards planting trees in the deforested regions where the monkeys live.

Here, we talk to him about the four species of primate, the conditions under which they are surviving, the challenges, the regions he worked in and so much more.

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The Colombia News Brief is reported this week by journalist Grace Brennan.

Direct download: RCC_469.mp3
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On this week's Colombia Calling podcast we get to chew the fat (cockney rhyming slang for: "chat.") with long-time immigrant to Colombia and friend to the podcast, Eric Tabone.

Tabone shares some of his insights into setting up a start-up here in Colombia, some of the dos and don'ts and how he ran this business successfully for 12 years before stepping aside and becoming a gentleman of leisure....although he continues to consult for businesses here!

Some of his important pointers:

1. Relationships are gold.
2. Don't underestimate a good lawyer.
3. Paitience is key.
4. Culture identification is vital.
5. the Banking system is horrible.

Check out his business website:

and feel free to support us:

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Direct download: RCC_468.mp3
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China’s engagement in Colombia has significantly increased in the past decade, whereas the country has openly embraced a warmer political and economic relationship with the middle kingdom, its political, diplomatic, and economic institutions are ill-equipped to understand and address the risks this closer relationship entails.

On this week's Colombia Calling podcast, Sergio Guzmán and Sara Torres of Colombia Risk Analysis analyze Colombia’s relationship with China, asked business leaders, and conducted a public opinion poll to understand local perceptions of Chinese investment in Colombia, and explain their findings to us.

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

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On this Episode of the Colombia Calling podcast, we address the evolution of Art in Latin America and Colombia and are led through this fascinating subject and its personal and political connotations by Colombian expert, Daniela Galán.

Daniela Galán is a Colombian artist and art historian from Goldsmiths University. Since she started her career as an artist she has been working at the intersection of contemporary art practice, sculpture, and philosophy.

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.

Check out her courses at and quote the code "colombiacalling" at check out and receive a 5% discount.

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

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Direct download: RCC_466.mp3
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For decades, coca eradication and substitution, to purportedly stop the cocaine trade at its source, were Colombia’s only policy responses to a plant that had always been part of its culture. These policies failed to reduce long-term coca cultivation, while harming the most vulnerable communities in the country and escalating the Americas’ longest civil war.

The 2016 peace agreement marked the first significant shift towards a new approach, one that prioritized human rights and public health in the issue of coca.

This week, David Restrepo of David Restrepo the Centro de Estudios sobre Seguridad y Drogas explains the history of this prohibition in Colombia and a great deal more.

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

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Direct download: RCC_456.mp3
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What inspires a practicing lawyer from St Louis, Missouri to give it all up to move to Cali, Colombia to teach English as a foreign language. Well, this is what Todd Cooley did and we hear about his experiences as a black American in Colombia. Hear a new episode that takes in race, identity and place and a great conversation about it all.

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

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Direct download: RCC_464.mp3
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Our guest this week is Natalia Pardo, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the Universidad de los Andes. Natalia is a geologist at the National University of Colombia (Bogotá), with a Master’s of Science degree with an emphasis in volcanology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and a doctorate in physical volcanology from Massey University, New Zealand.

Pardo’s research focuses on the study of volcano geology, the physicochemical processes that trigger explosive volcanic eruptions. Her aim is to study, investigate and bridge the gap between academia and the local communities to be able to explain the reality of volcanic activity in their regions.

Tune in for a fascinating conversation on the topic, the history of volcanic eruptions in Colombia, the story of the Dona Juana Volcano and more.

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

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Direct download: RCC_463.mp3
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Andrea Gonzalez Duarte Van Der Leeuw was born in Bogotá, adopted as a baby and raised in the Netherlands.

After finishing her degree in social work at Hanze University in the Netherlands, Andrea traveled the world then moved to Medellin, Colombia a few years later.

Upon her return to Colombia, she saw a striking difference in women’s role in society. The women she saw were working, creating, providing, and fighting - and then there is such a huge gap between the sexes?

This does not fit into our modern times and she started the foundation, Mi Barrio Mi Sueno, knowing right away that she wanted to work for equality, especially for women and children, because they have a right to equal and fair opportunities and treatment, like everybody else.

Andrea feels very strongly about this subject because this inequality is the reason behind her adoption. Now she is committed to changing the unequal conditions and working together for a fairer world.

The Colombia News Brief is reported this week by journalist Grace Brennan,

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Direct download: RCC_462.mp3
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This week we speak to Camila Gonzalez Rosas, Director and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Los Andes University in Bogotá and Researcher at the the Centre for Investigations into Microbiology and tropical parasitology and we discuss tropical diseases in Colombia.

Nothing is off the table from chagas, malaria, dengue, leishmaniasis, zika, chikungunya and Covid-19....we cover it all.

What are the possibilities of another Zika outbreak? What are the consequences of the loss of biodiversity and climate change in Colombia? We also talk about zoonotic transmission where an infectious disease is transmitted between species from animals to humans (or from humans to animals)

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Direct download: RCC_461.mp3
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Magdalena: River of Dreams, A Story of Colombia is a captivating new book from Wade Davis--renowned, award-winning, bestselling author and photographer, and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence for more than a decade-- that brings vividly to life the story of the great Río Magdalena, illuminating Colombia's complex past, present, and future in the process.

Thia week, Wade Davis, author of the inimitable book on the Amazon river, One River, joins us on the Colombia Calling podcast. It's humbling to have someone of this stature on the show, please enjoy.

The Colombia News Brief is brought to you by journalist Emily Hart

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Direct download: RCC_460.mp3
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On this week's show, we return to the topic of travel and tourism to Colombia as it is so timely with the ANATO convention taking place last week. We reflect on how the ANATO fair has changed over 15 years, how international travel agencies are now responding to those of us in the tourism business here in Colombia and potentially what to expect in the future.

There are some outtakes with music taking place during the convention, some information from Tatiana - the head of tourism for the department of Vaupes - Bruce McLean's ( reaction to some spicey chili flakes and more!

Come and enjoy some vicarious travel to Colombia. And thank you to Grace Brennan for taking over from Emily Hart with the Colombia News Brief this week.

Direct download: RCC_459.mp3
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Welcome to Colombia Calling – I’m Emily Hart and today I’m talking to ZZK, one of the top music labels in the world for latino electronica, digital and experimental cumbia, and rainforest electro. From a Wednesday Night party in Buenos Aires to a global record label, ZZK are now celebrating 15 years working in the business.

The now-huge digital cumbia scene was incubated in large part due to ZZK’s parties and label, which exploded into a community of artists whose experiments with blending unlikely sounds and styles have continued ever since, bringing cumbia from Colombia, through the barrios of Argentina, through an experimental digital wave – now to a phenomenon which plays worldwide.

I’ve got two of ZZK’s co-founders in the studio, as well as the lead of new Colombian signing and Bogotá phenomenon Los Cotopla Boys - We’ll be talking parties, rhythms, and the experimental scene in Colombia – as well as reggaeton, K-Pop, and how to survive as an indie record label.

At the end of the show, I’ll also be giving you guys an exclusive listen to a brand new track by ZZK artist Montoya.

Direct download: RCC_458.mp3
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On this week's Colombia Calling podcast, we have the opportunity to speak to supporters of the UK-based NGO, Children Change Colombia and their experiences of visiting a local partner project led by ACJ (Asociación Cristiana de Jovenes) in downtown Bogotá.

Abhijit Kapadia, Betty Encinales and Carlos Ordoñez join us to share their experiences of seeing - with their own eyes - how ACJ and Children Change Colombia are working to protect some of Colombia's most at-risk children from commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC).

Tune in to hear their reflections of visiting the Santa Fe neighbourhood known as the “tolerance zone” in Bogotá. This area is known for high presence of problems of sex work, drug addiction and delinquency.

ACJ, works to improve the lives of children and adolescents who have experienced or are at high risk of CSEC, as well as supporting children and young people that have experienced conflict-related violence, including sexual violence.

ACJ has a youth centre which is a protective oasis for children and young people at risk of CSEC in the middle of Santa Fe (Bogotá). In this area, children and young people are surrounded by legal sex workers and high levels of gangs and drugs. ACJ provides recreational workshops for children and young people, as well as their families where they learn about their rights and how to protect themselves from CSEC.

ACJ also provides psychosocial support to survivors of CSE and works with young sex workers and their children, helping them to find alternative employment and offering academic ‘catch-up’ courses that enable them to gain primary and secondary school qualifications.

Please visit the Children Change Colombia website
and consider supporting the important work being done.

Direct download: RCC_457.mp3
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This week on the Colombia Calling podcast, we delve a little deeper into the African influences in Colombia's music and culture. It's a fantastic conversation that goes well beyond the superficial and opens a whole new spectrum when we think of Colombian salsa and the music of Grupo Niche, the poetry of Candelario Obeso and the town of San Basilio de Palenque, amongst other things.

Luisa Marcela Ossa, Ph.D., is an associate professor of Spanish and area chair of the undergraduate Spanish program in the Department of Global Languages, Literatures, and Perspectives at La Salle University’s School of Arts and Sciences. Her research interests include Afro-Hispanic Literatures and Cultures, the Chinese presence in Latin America, and connections between racism and anti-Blackness in Latin America and the U.S.

Direct download: RCC_465.mp3
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“Conflict was not only played out on the battlefield, but also in the symbolic field.”

Emily Hart and renowned Colombian political scientist María Emma Wills Obregón discuss collective memory, polarisation and conflict resolution - and how a country can weave itself back together after decades of war.

So is history always written by the victors? Who is writing Colombia’s collective memory? And why does it matter so much?

Direct download: RCC_455.mp3
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Remember the German citizen deported from Colombia during the Paro Nacional? Well, this week we have the opportunity to hear Rebecca Sprößer's version of events that ocurred during the Paro Nacional protests in Cali in 2021.

Whilst accompanying members of the Primera Linea protestors in Cali, Sprößer recorded and detailed human rights abuses taking place, something which put her at odds with the authorities in that city.

We discuss the traumatic events that Sprößer witnessed in Cali, from the killing of her love in a café - shot by a sicario killer 12 times - and her deportation from Colombia back to Germany. Later, the new government of President Petro had the deportation orders overturned, citing them as contrived. Was this a case of xenophobia or was Sprößer rightly deported?

This is her opportunity to speak freely about the experiences and her support of Paz Total in Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_454.mp3
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On our inaugural episode for 2023, the Colombia Calling podcast welcomes Bruce McLean of BNBColombia tours back on the show to explain why you should plan to come to Colombia this year.

Hear an upbeat and fresh episode with which to begin the year on a high point. Get some ideas of new destinations within Colombia and allow yourself to be transported by McLean's infectious enthusiasm for his adopted homeland.

Check out the website at:

Direct download: RCC_453.mp3
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