Colombia Calling - The English Voice in Colombia (general)

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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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)

Please consider supporting us on

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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

And please consider supporting us at:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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:

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It's time to discuss the first 100 days of President Gustavo Petro's tenure in Colombia and who better informed to provide us with the total low-down of events but Sergio Guzman, Director of Colombia Risk Analysis.

In our own conversational style, Guzman and myself banter about the successes and failures with the Petro presidency thus far.

And, we discuss the latest report published by Colombia Risk Analysis entitled: The Subnational Risk Index.

"The Subnational Risk Index built by Colombia Risk Analysis arises as a response to the information asymmetries that domestic and foreign companies encounter when trying to enter the Colombian market. In that sense, the Index highlights departmental differences based on six major categories to simplify the decision-making process of companies. The objective of the Index is to account for potential and existing risks for companies in the different departments of the country according to the productive sector in which they are interested in investing."

Link to report:

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La Niña is hitting us hard here in Colombia and much of the country is under threat of floods, people are losing their homes and livelihoods. Previous governments have done so little to help vulnerable communities until it is too late.

What is La Niña (not to be confused with El Niño)

La Niña and its more famous counterpart El Niño move back and forth across the Pacific Ocean every few years. The phenomenon changes the temperatures of surface waters and the state of the atmosphere, leading to severe weather conditions for many.

And so, Bogotá and much of the country are suffering from above average and extended rainfalls which threaten much of the country.

My wife, Alba Torres and I discuss this phenomenon as we sit here watching a deluge in Bogotá and think back to the last terrible floods in Mompós in 2010 when we had to sandbag our houses. Our anecdotes and experiences fuel a real concern for what might happen in coming weeks. When will the rains end?

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

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In a lucky turn of events, I was contracted by National Geographic and Lindblad as a cultural specialist for Colombia on their recent expeditions from Cartagena to Panama and back.

Hugging the Caribbean coastline, our journey departed from Cartagena before taking in Santa Cruz del Islote, Isla Tintipan, Tuchin, the Bahia de Cispata, Santa Cruz de Lorica before finishing the Colombian leg with a visit to Capurgana and Sapzurro.

In Panama, we stopped by the Kuna Yala islands, Portobelo, the final resting place of Sir Francis Drake before heading up to the Panama Canal to cross from the Caribbean to the Pacific and managed to squeeze in some birdwatching in Gatun Lake.

So, on this show, I share live recordings that I took on-site in various locations along the route. I think you'll enjoy it.

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

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 On this week's Colombia Calling podcast, Adriaan Alsema, director of Colombia Reports ( joins us to discuss the recent declarations made by president Gustavo Petro about the use of cocaine and its effects on Colombia's environment and society.

Where does a legalization of cocaine begin and why should this be discussed?

It's widely recognized that the "war on drugs" has failed, so how do we move forwards? Of course, this conversation leaves us with more questions than answers but the debate must start somewhere...

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On this week's Colombia Calling podcast (Ep448), we get the chance to speak to Ceasar, a 34 year-old Venezuelan webcam model based in Medellin.

We learn about the webcam industry, how he got into this business, the business model of webcams, the legality of it, fetishes and finally, the webcam industry's close relationship to organized crime in Colombia.

Ceasar provides us with a frank and detailed insight into his business and we learn about how he became successful as a webcam "content creator."

Direct download: RCC_448.mp3
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Channeling a late-era sound not dissimilar to Joe Strummer of the Clash, friend to the Colombia Calling podcast, singer songwriter Kevin McCaffrey joins us from the southwestern city of Cali to speak about his latest single, "Punk Rockin' Blues" and the creativity behind it.

You'll remember McCaffrey from his last appearance here when he related the time he was drugged and robbed of his life savings in Cartagena, Colombia. Out of this experience, he has been very productive, writing and releasing several singles, the latest being punk Rockin Blues. The video is now available to enjoy on Youtube and even includes Snoop Dogg lookalike! Check it out here:

We have a jovial conversation which even goes so far as to mention Gerry Rafferty of Baker Street fame, the Clash, the Police and a great deal more. Please tune in and support McCaffrey's creativity here.

Colombia news from Emily Hart.

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The World Mosquito Program in Colombia is part of a global, not-for-profit initiative that is working to protect local communities from mosquito-borne diseases.

More than 25 million people are at risk of dengue, which is more than half of Colombia’s population. A number of large-scale outbreaks have occurred in recent years. The number of Zika cases also increased rapidly following a global outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease in 2015.

So, on this week's Colombia Calling podcast, we have the opportunity to talk to Simon Kutcher, Senior Project Manager for the World Mosquito Program in Colombia.

Simon Kutcher has been managing and advising on the implementation of international development projects for more than 25 years. He has extensive experience working on complex integrated programs across many sectors, including spending the past 15 years in public health.

The number of people affected by mosquito-borne diseases is rapidly growing.

In recent years, population growth, the movement of people from rural areas to cities, more international travel and climate change have all increased the spread of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

And subsequently, the number of people affected by mosquito-borne diseases has also increased.

Dengue fever is now considered the most critical mosquito-borne viral disease in the world, according to the World Health Organization. It’s also the most rapidly spreading, with a 30-fold increase in global incidence over the past 50 years

Direct download: RCC_446.mp3
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Hallo and welcome to another episode of Colombia Calling – I’m Emily Hart and this week I’m talking to Velia Vidal – author, journalist, campaigner, working from her homeland Chocó. She is the founder and director of the Motete Educational and Cultural Corporation and the Chocó Reading and Writing Festival.

Velia Vidal is going to telling me all about her most recent writing project – a collaboration with the British Museum and the Hay Festival which brought together ten of Latin America’s most inspiring contemporary thinkers to examine the ways in which we curate narratives of our past through museums.

Each writer took an object from the British Museum and contributed a chapter to the book, Untold Microcosms. It’s an amazing project which raises all kinds of issues about colonialism and power-relations, the narrative power of historical objects, the British Museum’s right to hold certain artefacts, and the erasure of Afro-Colombian history in hegemonic narratives.

We’ll also be talking about life in Chocó, representation and mermaids, and the inspiration which can come from contact with your homeland – and the sea, Velia’s foremost muse.

Direct download: RCC_445.mp3
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We are incredibly fortunate to speak to Jenny Pearce, Research Professor,
Latin America and Caribbean Centre (LACC) at LSE about her current research which focuses particularly on the role of Elites and Violence in Latin America.

She worked with young researchers in Colombia, led by Juan David Velasco (Lecturer, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana), on elites and the Peace Accord.

Together they designed a database to better define and differentiate elites in Colombia and the families behind them. Learn about the power wielded by a few families and how their far-reaching influence defines Colombia's wealth and politics.

The research is funded by the Instituto Colombo-Alemán para la Paz (CAPAZ). Read the original report here:

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Hallo and welcome to another episode of Colombia Calling - I’m Emily Hart and this week I’ll be chatting to Nubia Rojas about journalism at war – how journalists fell victim to, but also took part in, Colombia’s civil conflict.

Nubia is a journalist and researcher who has worked on conflicts across the world both as a correspondent and an analyst, working for the United Nations, Doctors without Borders, and Oxfam, as well as numerous Colombian outlets.

Most recently, Nubia authored a chapter of the final report of Colombia’s Truth Commission – a historic publication which was the outcome of an unprecedented investigation into the causes and consequences of Colombia's internal armed conflict – the final report was the result of nearly four years’ work and tens of thousands of interviews.

Today we’ll be chatting about Nubia’s chapter – digging in to the historical and present relationship between journalism and Colombia’s political elites, paramilitary PR, rebel elites, corporate takeovers and more

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Adventurer Daniel Eggington sets out, third time lucky, to cross the lesser-known pacific side of the impenetrable jungle connecting Colombia to Panama, known as the Darien Gap.

Hear his tales of river crossings, being abandoned, snakes and scorpions, not to mention a meeting with an individual from an illegal armed group, along the way.

How did the Panamanian authorities react? Why did he make this journey?

This and the Colombia News Brief from Emily Hart.

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Hallo and welcome to Colombia Calling – I’m Emily Hart and this week we’re discussing peace and statehood with two expert researchers – Dr Gwen Burnyeat and Dr Andrei Gomez-Suarez.

Burnyeat is a junior research fellow in anthropology at Oxford University, with over a decade working on peace and politics in Colombia, as well as author of numerous books on the topic. Gomez-Suarez is a senior research fellow at the Centre of Religion, Reconciliation and Peace at the University of Winchester, co-founder of peace-building group Rodeemos el Diálogo, and – also – author of numerous books.

We’ll be talking about peace and peace-ability - the Colombian government’s attempts to communicate and convince around the referendum on the 2016 peace deal, and the long shadow which the failings of that work has cast.

Sharing their experiences both in research and in advocacy, Gwen and Andrei will be telling us about the faces the Colombian state has shown, and needs to show, in front of its citizens, the failings of a purely rational approach, and the conclusions of Gwen’s new book - "The Face of Peace: Government Pedagogy amid Disinformation in Colombia."

And to round off the show, Gwen will give us a reading from the Prologue.

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Simon Faulkner is a lecturer of International Tourism Management at University College Birmingham. As an expert in the travel industry from an academic standpoint, we are fortunate to have him on the Colombia Calling podcast to discuss his recent trip to Colombia, which included the Colombian Caribbean island of Providencia.

We discuss what he saw on the ground in Providencia, how the island is coping after Hurrican Iota left a massive trail of destruction in its wake in 2020. Has there been any effective reconstruction on the island and what is being done?

But not only does Faulkner discuss Providencia, because he also travelled Colombia with his teenage son, and so we get to hear about his experiences in the country travelling with children. Is Colombia a child friendly destination, what can be done with children in Colombia and how does Faulkner see Colombia marketing herself in the future?

Tune in for this and for Colombia news from journalist Emily Hart.

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Joining us from Lund University where she teaches at the Graduate School 2030, Jesica López is a Bogotana on a mission to investigate and share how we can work together to understand land transformation and halt deforestation in the Amazon.

The overarching aim of of Lopez' study is to improve our systems' approach understanding the mechanisms behind the land use transformation. More specifically, the cumulative effects of extensive cattle ranching into tropical forests in protected areas, in order to implement effective and integrative land use planning in the northwest of Amazon region of Colombia.

We discuss the power behind the cattle farming union, Chiribiquete and why it is so important, some of the good news being done on the ground and how we can start to make this all part of the normal conversation for conservation not only in Colombia but also in Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru as well.

Colombia News Brief by Emily Hart.

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The Meridian Brothers talk to journalist Emily Hart about salsa, technocracy, and their epic new album - lost in time between the 1970s and 2022, technology and nostalgia - and reality and creation.

Formed in 1998,The group identifies as “B-class” salsa whose music explores human struggles in the urban city landscape, with themes such as police brutality, social marginalization, and addiction.

Composer/ multi-instrumentalist Eblis Álvarez writes, plays, arranges, and records Meridian Brothers' albums solo, and performs live with a band. The irreverent music melds electronic and organic instrumentation, South American, Caribbean, and Mexican rhythms and folk traditions.

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Tune to hear Colombia Calling podcast episode 437 with special guest Adriaan Alsema, director of news site Colombia Reports and hear us discussing the new government of President Gustavo Petro in Colombia.

From behind a fog of cigarrette smoke, Alsema gives us his feelings on the new cabinet members, including the scandal surrounding the nomination of Mery Gutierrez as ICT (MinTic) Minister and the daring nomination of crusading human rights advocate, Ivan Velasquez as Minister of Defense.

This is a great conversation about politics in Colombia, Total Peace and the reality of President Petro's tenure, perhaps cynical, but certainly hopeful.

Colombia News brief reported by journalist Emily Hart:

Direct download: RCC_437.mp3
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Friend to the Colombia Calling podcast, Pete Watson PhD joins us to discuss football and its use by politicians as a uniting force in Colombia. Read the snippet about Watson's book below and enjoy our conversation as we discuss politics, politicians, womens' football in Colombia and much more.

Watson's book explores the pivotal role that football played as part of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ national unity project centred on the peace process with the FARC. Football has huge political and social capital in Latin America, and has often been rhetorically deployed by governments for various ends; rarely, however, has football’s power and potential been used in such a deliberate, strategic and active way towards a national peace process and targeted such enduring divisions that have historically impeded a sense of a united nation and national identity. Football in Colombia is understood popularly as one of the few things capable of uniting the country, a belief that Santos seized upon as the national team had a successful campaign in the 2014 World Cup. This first book on Colombian football in English explores previous iterations of football nationalism in the country, including the El Dorado and ‘Narcofootball’ eras, before analysing Santos’ three-pronged strategy empowering professional and amateur football, including the use of political speeches and Twitter, legislation and public policy, and Sport for Development and Peace campaigns, with a particular focus on football in the FARC demobilisation and reincorporation camps following the historic peace agreement.

Peter J. Watson is a Teaching Fellow in Spanish and Latin American Studies in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at the University of Leeds.

Direct download: RCC_436.mp3
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La Leyenda, South America's most prestigious mountain bike stage race, where adventurous professional and amateur cyclists from around the world race side by side in the majestic Andean mountains of Colombia.

As formidable as it is breathtaking, the Leyenda route showcases the best of this cycling crazy country – tropical river valleys and sweeping singletracks, as well as lush green jungle and beautiful historic towns with thousands of screaming fans lining the streets.

Friend to the Colombia Calling podcast, Dave Procter explains why Colombia is truly one of the most exciting, inspiring and mythical mountain bike destinations on the planet. Hear about how they've come back stronger post Covid-19 and what is being offered now to MTB aficionados.

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On Episode 434 of the Colombia Calling podcast, special guest Ole Reidar Bergum - Counsellor for Climate and Forests/ Consejero de Clima y Bosque - Royal Norwegian Embassy in Bogotá, joins us to speak in-depth and openly about the tragedy of the rampant deforestation taking place at the moment in Colombia.

We discuss the causes and results and what the Norwegian government, along with other collaborators, are trying to do to prevent an area the size of Bogotá being deforested each year.

Direct download: RCC_434.mp3
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On Episode 433, we take a look at a couple of the stories coming out of Colombia which may have escaped your notice with various events ocurring around the world, stealing the headlines in the foreign pages of your newspapers and outlets. After the Colombia news brief with journalist Emily Hart, I sit down to give you an extremely abridged and summerised overview of the report and findings of the Truth Commission and of a report produced by the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Neither make for gentle reading. Thank you again for your support and please consider subscribing and signing up at

Direct download: RCC_433.mp3
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In another exciting episode of the Colombia Calling podcast, we prioritize all questions put to us by our Patreon supporters ( and answer all of your queries regarding the future government and potential policies of Colombia's president-elect Gustavo Petro. This in an unedited recording with myself and journalist Emily Hart and the voice files kindly submitted by experts in their fields, Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, the leading Colombia human rights advocate at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and Kyle Johnson of Fundación Conflict Responses, CORE. We discuss security issues in Colombia, international business, financial flight under a leftist president, the vice president Francia Marquez, Petro's period as mayor of Bogotá, worst case scenarios, Alvaro Uribe and much more. News from journalist Emily Hart and a huge thank you to the excellent questions sent in my all of you.

Direct download: RCC_432.mp3
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On this week's Colombia Calling, we get to talk to members of musical collectives, bullerengue groups and the Colombian disapora in London and to hear about a new folkloric music festival they have set up in Barcelona: Prende la Vela, from July 29-31 2022. "We also want to transcend the political polarization in Colombia. For us, folkloric music is not just about entertainment. This festival will not just be fun. Ancestral music unites Colombians, it is our collective root, whilst polarization has continually torn the country apart for decades if not centuries. Even if it’s for a matter of hours, or a weekend, peace in our ‘encuentro de tambores afrocolombianos por la “paz”’ means that moment of transcending bitter politics by appreciating our collective ‘oneness’ through the medium of music." Thank you to Nick, Taty, Esteban and Valeria for their time and vision. Tune in to hear more about this festival and some of the bands playing such as La Perla, Lumbalú, Akolá Tambó, the Witchas Collective and last but not least Guacamayo Tropical.

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In this week's episode, we have the pleasure of sitting down with Ander Agudelo, an entrepreneur from Medellín, keen on telling us about some of the realities of the city beyond the popular tourist haunts of El Poblado and Laureles. By way of Ander's online and on-site Spanish classes (Spanglish 360 Academy on facebook and Instagram), we hear about the urban regeneration of the city, much lauded in the international press, but also, the reality of being a middle to lower income resident of the city. Enjoy this frank conversation and the Colombia News Brief from journalist Emily Hart.

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On Episode 429 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we're allowing the dust to settle on the recent presidential elections in Colombia and take a look at one of Colombia's first free-thinkers, Antonio Nariño. Our special guest this week is Emily Hausheer who has investigated in-depth the life and times of Nariño. It all begins with the outbreak of the French Revolution which sets Nariño's mind on fire. He translated the Declaration of the Rights of Man and had the document printed in his own house (1794). He might as well have handled dynamite. He was accused of sedition, convicted by the highest court of the land, and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment in Africa, permanent exile, and the confiscation of his property (1795). Hear the full story of this incredible individual.

Direct download: RCC_429.mp3
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Over the last fifteen years Colombia has moved from ostensibly failed state to emerging market and tourist destination, providing Nobel-endorsed evidence that peace and reconciliation are possible after decades of brutalization. But while Colombia may no longer be the country that former president Ernesto Samper described in 2002, where governing was like trying to pilot an airplane in a storm while the passengers were rioting, neither is it the wonderland depicted in official propaganda. Many Colombians live badly; many more, well into the nominal middle class, live precariously; and still more structure their lives around minimizing their chances of falling victim to crime—something the poorest are unable to do. Unhappiness about the present and pessimism about the future are rampant across the social scale, focused precisely on those themes the Juan Manuel Santos government (2010–2018) touted as successes: the peace process, “social inclusion,” and infrastructure and public services. Much can be blamed on the administration of President Ivan Duque and the continual spectre of uribismo in addition to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Colombia may be more governable than it used to be, but not because the passengers are happier with the pilot—with the qualified (and to many Colombians highly suspicious) exception of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Tune in for a profound historical and amusing anecdotal look at Colombia through the eyes and experience of an expert Latin Americanist. Dr. Richard Stoller is Coordinator of Academic Advising and International Programs, Schreyer Honors College, Pennsylvania State University. Colombia news brief from journalist Emily Hart.

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Colombian writer, journalist, philosopher and art dealer Juan Pablo Plata joins us on this week's Colombia Calling podcast (Episode 427) to discuss Colombia as a literary experience and how literature in Colombia has been defined over each decade by single-crop farming (monocultivo) and extractive industries. Perhaps, says Plata, we can look at Palm Oil, Coca (for cocaine), Bananas, Coal, Oil Coltan, Rubber and beyond as defining literature in Colombia depending on the era? And certainly, Jorge Isaacs, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Laura Restrepo and others can be linked directly to this phenomenon. "We already know that the best Colombian history is written by anglosaxons," said Plata. We discuss anglosaxon literature on Colombia, such as by authors such as Malcolm Deas, Davd Bushnell and Wade Davis before plunging into Colombia's new literary frontier of ELO (literatura electonica colombiana). Check out Juan Pablo Plata on Twitter: @jppescribe and his literary magazine: Colina Revista - Colombia News Brief from journalist Emily Hart.

Direct download: RCC_427.mp3
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What a rollercoaster of an afternoon we had, viewing the results of the first round of the Colombian presidential election as they came in.

On this week's Colombia Calling podcast, we chat to Mark Kennedy (journalist: Latin American Advisor and Inter-American Dialogue) and throw around ideas regarding the voting and how this develops for both candidates in the second round on 19 June.

The polls had predicted a win for Gustavo Petro for months and over the past three weeks we had witnessed a surge in support for outsider Rodolfo Hernández, but there were few who would have bet safe money on Hernández overtaking Uribista and continuity candidate, Federico Gutiérrez by such a wide margin.

So what now for the two leading canddiates Petro and Hernández and then Gutiérrez and Fajardo, what deals are being made? What does Hernández need to do to win and what should Petro be doing now?

All this and more on this week's Colombian Presidential Election Special.

Direct download: RCC_426.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Dr Hannah Meszaros Martin is not a newcomer to the Colombia Calling podcast having previously joined us on Ep413 "What is Forensic Architecture?" On Episode 425 she brings her wealth of knowledge on the topic of glyphosate to the podcast to discuss its history, use in the eradication of coca and beyond. She says: "the eradication of coca cannot be seen as separate from the armed conflict in Colombia." What becomes clear and as Meszaros Martin explains, in Colombia and in this industry, the licit and the illicit rely on one another. Hear about land becoming sterile after decades of fumigation with glyphosate and then re-appropriated by destructive industries such as petroleum exploration, palm oil and cattle farming. We also discuss the possible policies presented by the two main presidential candidates, Gustavo Petro and Federico Gutiérrez, regarding fumigation with glyphosate in Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_425.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Shafik Meghji is an award-winning travel writer, journalist and author based in South London specialising in Latin America and South Asia. But on this episode 424 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we discuss his new book: "Crossed off the Map, Travels in Bolivia," and also pick his brains about travel in Colombia.

Tune in to hear fun banter with Meghji as we hear how he went from being a sports journalist to a travel writer and his adventures in Colombia's Llanos, Providencia and his in-depth exploration into the traditional drink of Chicha.

Buy the book and here's what people are saying about it!

‘Meghji skilfully unveils the layers of this complex society with candour and a warm curiosity. It makes you want to get on the next flight to Bolivia.’
Noo Saro-Wiwa, author of Looking for Transwonderland

Direct download: RCC_424.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

One year ago in 2021, the southwestern Colombian city of Cali became the flashpoint for massive protests in what was known as the #paronacional. Underestimated and misunderstood by the government, protests lasted for several months and there was a significant loss of life.

Journalist Jorge Luis Galeano Bolaños, director of joins us from Cali to discuss the Paro Nacional one year after the event. What has changed? How is Cali progressing? From a human rights standpoint, what happened?

Tune in for a fascinating conversation with a Colombian journalist who was on the scene reporting from the heart of the disturbances in 2021.

News this week from journalist Mat di Salvo.

Direct download: RCC_423.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

What were the "false positives or falsos positivos? Adriaan Alsema of Colombia Reports joins us on this "explainer" episode.

This is the name given to the killings of young men - mainly from humble families - carried out by the Colombian army to inflate numbers of "neutralized" guerrilla combatants during the long-running conflict. The Colombian army's aim was to pass them off as left-wing rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to boost its kill rate and give the impression it was winning the armed conflict against the group.

This past week, several members of the Armed Forces guilty of this heinous crime stood before family members of those killed in a hearing hosted by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP, which was created as a result of the 2016 peace accords) in the town of Ocaña, Norte de Santander.

The JEP is designed to pursue transitional and restorative justice and the military officials confirmed their participation in the practice known as false positives from luring out of work young men from Bogotá, Soacha, Bucaramanga and other regions of Colombia, to areas of conflict with the promise of work.

This hearing, which was televised, has revealed just a tiny percentage of the crimes committed which has resulted in 6,402 confimed assassinations of civilians so far during the mid-2000s.

Tune in to hear about the False Positives, the hearing and what may happen next.

Direct download: RCC_422.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Following up from the immensely popular episode No.407 in January 2022 in which Emily Hart and Richard McColl took your questions about more or less anything Colombia-related, we thought that it was time to put together Part 2.

We discuss Colombia's political climate, the upcoming presidential elections, who might win: Gustavo Petro or Federico Gutiérrez, the tourism industry, the upturn in violence - are the news reports to be trusted?, carrier bags, bilingualism and...cheese!

Tune in for a great conversation about Colombia. And thank you to all those of you who sent in your questions. If you feel like it, please check out our Patreon page and consider backing the Colombia Calling podcast.

Direct download: RCC_421.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Sam from Latvia was an engineer on oil rigs in the North Sea but life took a turn and now he's offering ayahuasca retreats under the guidance of expert taitas in Colombia in rural Antioquia.

Hear his story of self-discovery and stories about the sacred ritual of ayahuasca and the experiences recounted by some of the people to have participated on his retreats.

Colombia news reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Check out Sam's website at:

Direct download: RCC_420.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

We lost 70% of our food’s biodiversity last century – swallowed up by climate change, habitat loss, industrial agriculture, and the homogenization of the global diet.

Today on the podcast we meet some of the team racing against time to store and study the genetics of our food – creating a global back-up drive for the DNA of plants which keep the human race alive – from a groundbreaking new facility just outside Cali, Colombia. From robots and AI to Jeff Bezos and the Paro Nacional, we'll be chatting all things crops, climate change, Colombia, and the future of food.

Direct download: RCC_419.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

This week we have the honour of inviting Rafael Stuve from the State of Venezuela podcast - The only English-language podcast focused on all matters related to Venezuela - to chat about what's going on in neighbouring Venezuela.

We discuss the tricky border situation between the Venezuelan state of Apure and the Colombian department of Arauca, the influence of the ELN guerrillas in that country, Russia's meddling in Venezuela, could Venezuela launch an attack on Guyana and finally, the Colombian presidential elections in relation to Venezuela.

Tune in to this and of course to the State of Venezuela Podcast for more information.

Tags and Keywords: venezuela, the state of venezuela podcast, podcast english venezuela, podcast english colombia, colombia calling podcast, colombia journalism english, colombia news english, maduro and colombia, president maduro, gustavo petro, ELN guerrillas in Colombia, ELN guerrillas in Venezuela, Apure Venezuela, conflict Arauca, richard mccoll, emily hart, rafael struve, FARC, venezuelan migrants,

Direct download: RCC_418.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

What is going on with the electoral process in Colombia? On 13 March Colombians voted in congressional and legislative elections and for the candidates for the presidential elections in May. Since then, it has been a rollercoaster ride of accusations, counter accusations and mudslinging between the presidential candidates.

This episode with Sergio Guzman of Colombia Risk Analysis was recorded before all the claims of voting irregularities and fraud. However, the context and information remain the same.

It seems to be Gustavo Petro vs Federico Fico Gutiérrez for the presidency but how have the chips fallen in the Congress and Senate. Guzmán provides an overview of what happened and what's to come.

Direct download: RCC_417.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Simon Mejía of legendary electro cumbia band Bomba Estereo joins us on Episode 416 of the Colombia Calling podcast to discuss his latest plan - along with a team including Simón Hernández, Paula Vaccaro and Liliana Andrade - to present a musical journey to the depths of the Magdalena River (Yuma) in Colombia, the birthplace of Cumbia music.

Yuma, Sonic River, is a spellbinding journey along Colombia’s sacred Magdalena river after the origin of Cumbia music. This film introduces folk musicians who give a unique insight into musical creation. Through their songs, the documentary will convey the beauty and complexity of the river's history, culture, and by navigating it we will learn about its urgent environmental crisis.

Check out the Kickstarter campaign to fund the project here:

Colombia news reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Direct download: RCC_416.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

 This week on Episode 415 of the Colombia Calling podcast, Emily Hart talks to two global experts on women in peacebuilding processes about their research into the pandemic and its effects on key actors in Colombia’s peace process – women.

As the fourth peak of the covid19 cases fades, the dust is starting to settle on pandemic management worldwide – how the lockdowns and movement restrictions affected peacebuilders and their crucial work, and how Colombia’s peace could suffer in the long term as a result – how it may already be suffering:

Last week, the Transitional Justice Tribunal – the JEP, announced a ‘reactivation’ of conflict in various parts of the country with various spikes in indicators for violence, this week and UN warned of levels of violence not seen in Colombia since 2014 - now NGO Frontline Defenders have released their annual report on the murders of human rights defenders – Colombia was not only host to more of those murders than any country in the world yet again, but accounted for nearly 40% of the global total of murders of human rights defenders in 2021.

Katherine Ronderos is a Colombian researcher with over 15 years working in the sector of women's rights, peace, security and development, from Colombia to Korea. For seven years, Katherine was the Director of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in Colombia and is now an independent consultant working for UN agencies.

Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos is a gender in peacebuilding expert who has worked in more than 15 countries - formerly Director of Programs at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, she is now researching her PhD.

Direct download: RCC_415.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

“The shadow of anglophone science fiction has been over us for a long while – but there has also been a constant attempt to get rid of that shadow.”

Acclaimed Colombian science-fiction author Luis Carlos Barragán talks to Emily Hart about Latin American sci-fi, technoshamanism, pre-Colompunk, alien invasions and more on Episode 414 of the Colombia Calling.

Tune in to a fascinating conversation which takes many turns as Hart and Barragán take on cyberpunk, colonialism, giant worms and so much more.

Tags and Keywords: emily hart journalist, luis carlos barragán author, science fiction colombia, el gusano, sci fi writing colombia, sci fi latin america, colombia calling, books colombia, podcast colombia, colombia english podcast.

Direct download: RCC_414.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:29pm EDT

On this week's Colombia Calling podcast, we get to delve into the world of forensic architecture with expert Hannah Meszaros-Martin PhD and how this has been used to uncover and investigate topics, crimes and more in Colombia. And we have Colombia news reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Forensic Architecture (FA) is a research agency, based at Goldsmiths, University of London, investigating human rights violations including violence committed by states, police forces, militaries, and corporations. FA works in partnership with institutions across civil society, from grassroots activists, to legal teams, to international NGOs and media organisations, to carry out investigations with and on behalf of communities and individuals affected by conflict, police brutality, border regimes and environmental violence.

We discuss land dispossession in Uraba, the seige of the Palacio de Justicia in Bogotá in 1985 by the M19 guerrillas and then for our Patreon subscribers, there's a bonus segment on FA's investigation and research into the killing of Lucas Villa during the Paro Nacional demonstrations in Colombia in 2021.

Check out their website for further investigations

Direct download: RCC_413.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Further to our series in 2021, regarding some of the intricacies and causes of the Paro Nacional or national demonstrations in Colombia which brought much of the country to a standstill, we have decided to follow these up in 2022 with equally pressing issues. This week on episode 412 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we are honoured to welcome Juan Pappier, Senior Investigator for Human Rights Watch on Colombia Calling to talk about the urgent need for police reform in Colombia.

Pappier has a special focus on Cuba and Colombia and talks to us about not only a need for police reform in Colombia but also the failure by the relevant entities in investigating and prosecuting members of the force guilty of killing protestors during the unrest.

Tune in for an informative and interesting episode and follow Juan Pappier

Direct download: RCC_412.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

From the author of El Narco, a searing investigation into the enormous black market for firearms, essential to cartels and gangs in the drug trade and contributing to the epidemic of mass shootings.

The gun control debate is revived with every mass shooting. But far more people die from gun deaths on the street corners of inner city America and across the border as Mexico’s powerful cartels battle to control the drug trade. Guns and drugs aren’t often connected in our heated discussions of gun control-but they should be. In Ioan Grillo’s groundbreaking new work of investigative journalism, he shows us this connection by following the market for guns in the Americas and how it has made the continent the most murderous on earth.

On the Colombia Calling podcast, we discuss the arms trade, the drugs trade, the so-called war on drugs and how this all affects Colombia. Grillo is one of the foremost experts on these topics as he is based in Mexico and appears in the world's press reporting on said issues. Check out his website:

Direct download: RCC_411.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Journalist Emily Hart sat with Frank Wynne, tracing his incredible career from the start of his linguistic journey (a breakup and a bookshop in Paris) to his award-winning translation of writers across Latin America and the francophone world – particularly his work on cult Colombian author and ‘Enemy Number 1 of Macondo’ - Andrés Caicedo and his novel “Liveforever!”.

Tune in for a literary episode exploring one of Colombia's least known and cult authors recounted in such an erudite fashion.

Direct download: RCC_410.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

This week's Colombia Calling podcast explores the position of forensic experts and their role in this (post)accord period in Colombia and their role in uncovering truths in Colombia's long-running conflict.

María Fernanda Olarte-Sierra, University of Amsterdam | UVA · Department of Anthropology, Doctor in Social and Behavioural Sciences joins us to share her findings as a social scientist and ethnographer having interviewed many forensic experts and their findings in the field.

We discuss the differences in disappearences carried out by the paramilitaries (AUC), the FARC guerrillas and finally the Colombian military and their role in the False Positives scandal.

Tune in for an in-depth look at some of the darkest yet most revealing issues affecting forensic science and forensic experts of all types in Colombia at this critical juncture in Colombia's history.

Direct download: RCC_409.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Anika Fajardo was born in Colombia and raised in Minnesota. She is the author of a book about that experience, Magical Realism for Non-Believers: A Memoir of Finding Family (University of Minnesota Press, 2019), which was awarded Best Book (Nonfiction) of 2020 from City Pages and was a finalist for the 2020 Minnesota Book Award.

Here on the Colombia Calling podcast, we talk about her Colombia-infused writing, what it means to be half Colombian, how she got involved in the film Encanto and further conversations about writing and publishing.

Her debut middle-grade novel What If a Fish (Simon & Schuster, 2020) was awarded the 2021 Minnesota Book Award. Her next book for young readers, Meet Me Halfway (Simon & Schuster) will be published in spring 2022.

Direct download: RCC_408.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

For Episode 407, our first of 2022, Emily Hart and I take a look back at 2021 in Colombia and then address a number of questions that you, the listeners, sent in to us.

Thank you for the questions which cover journalism, fake news, visa issues, politics, elections, Covid-19, mental health and Medellin.

Tune in for a great episode with which to begin 2022.

Direct download: RCC_407.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

We are humbled to host Kenneth Kosik, professor of Neuroscience at UC Santa Barbara on this week's Colombia Calling podcast, the final for 2021.

Kenneth S. Kosik, M.D. is an American neurologist, author, researcher and professor in neuroscience at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Kosik provided much of the original data on the largest family in the world with a genetic form of Alzheimer's disease located in Antioquia, Colombia. And this is where our interest lies.

We discuss the "paisa mutation," which has appeared in Antioquia and certain genetic mutations which cause early onset Alzheimer's disease in the region and that have been traced all the way back to the Iberian peninsula and the year 1500!

This is a revealing and fascinating episode, one which we feel is fitting to end 2021.

Direct download: RCC_406.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

On episode 405 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we explore the world of e-commerce in Colombia and talk to Sebastian Laurson of the start-up sex toy company, Secretos.

Dane Laurson is partner with five other immigrants to Colombia and between them, they are seeking to revolutionise the sex toy industry, removing the stigma from the business in peculiar nook and cranny stores in parts of Bogotá and making it accessible and confidential for the buyer.

We hear how they came to start this business, how the pandemic has been important for their growth, how they researched the business and where they go from here. In a frank and insightful conversation, we learn about e-commerce and start-ups in Colombia and indeed, the sex toy industry.

Check out their page:

Direct download: RCC_405.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Nadya Ortiz is Colombia's first woman chess grandmaster. Hailing from humble origins in Ibague, chess became a conduit for her success. By succeeding in the chess world, she won a scholarship to study at university in Texas, later another one to go to Purdue and then by virtue of her excellence in computer science now works for Apple in San Francisco.

We hear Nadya's story on episode 404 of the Colombia Calling podcast. As a woman from the provinces, playing an unpopular sport, she made it all happen for her. We discuss her life, politics in Colombia and much more in what is an inspirational story.

Direct download: RCC_404.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

One of the goals of the Colombia Calling podcast is to reveal lesser or unknown stories from Colombia and this week on Episode 403, I feel we've really hit this one out of the park! We get to talk to Daniela Rocha and Daniel Velasquez, part of a team of filmmakers currently putting together a documentary entitled: Las Señoritas.

This is a special story as it highlights the work of a religious organization called USEMI (la Unión Seglar de Misioneras). This is a missionary group with a difference, it's revolutionary, it's staffed by single women and it was not designed to "drag the poor indigenous people from poverty and ignorance," but to understand local and original cultures, finding god within their beliefs.

We talk to Daniela and Daniel about the experiences of filming in the Sierra Nevada with the Arhuaco and Kogui people, hearing of the USEMI project which took place between the 1960s and 1980s before leaving the Sierra. It's unusual to hear about "revolutionary catholicism," and this makes for phenomenal listening.

The filmmakers are seeking contributions in this post-production phase, take a look here:

Direct download: RCC_403.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

It's no secret that I've been looking for someone to discuss this on the podcast for some while, but finally, it's come together. Johanna Gomez is in the process of writing up her PhD thesis at the Goldsmiths University in London and her research has taken her deep into the Llanos of Colombia, where witchcraft is rife, to investigate this phenomenon, the rites and rituals and delve into a lesser known cultural practice found in this region and all over Colombia.

How much do you know about witchcraft, witchcraft in Colombia, witches and shamans and indeed, in the context of Colombia's armed conflict? A lot more, I hope, after this incredible conversation with Johanna Gomez.

Direct download: RCC_402.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

President Duque's presence at the COP26 in Glasgow has generated the kind of headlines that he seeks but it's important to hear from the people on the ground and in the communities. One collection of communities very affected by illegal mining, deforestation, armed actors, displacements, coca cultivation and more are those along the Atrato River in the department of Choco on Colombia's pacific side.

We hear from three environmental professionals all en route to Glasgow. Maryuris Mosquera from the Atrato speaks via interpreter about the life and problems in her home territory and her role as a Guardian del Rio.

Viviana Gonzalez of the legal association Siembra discusses the legal implications of the Colombian Constitutional Court's decision in adopting an unprecedented ecocentric approach to human rights: the judges recognised Colombia’s Atrato River as a legal entity with environmental rights that need to be protected alongside the communities’ bio-cultural rights.


Alejandro Perez, a senior specialist in political and peace advocacy at SNPS/Caritas Colombiana, discusses the three key points that need to shared at COP26 regarding the issues in Colombia. 1. Protect Environmental and Social Leaders, 2. Show the relationship between the failure to act on the peace accord and deforestation. 3. Strengthen local communities.

Thank you to ABC Colombia, SNPS/Caritas, Guadianes del Rio, Siembra and the University of Glasgow for their help and participation of this important episode.

Direct download: RCC_401.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

To all Colombianists out there, Adam Isacson of the Washington Office on Latin America needs no introduction. Offering some of the most insightful analysis on not only Colombia but other countries in the region, he is a go to person for journalists seeking out informed and level-headed opinions.

We hear from Isacson after this, his first visit to Colombia since quarantine restrictions have been lifted and in the company of Congressman Jim McGovern.

They travel to Sumapaz, Cali, Santander de Quilichao and Bogotá and Isacson provides us with a lowdown of his thoughts on how Colombia is evolving...or not.

Tune in to a fascainting Episode 400!

Direct download: RCC_400.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

On episode 399 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we welcome back one of our consistently most popular guests, writer and academic Emma Louise Jay. You'll remember her from the "Downton Abbey with a machete," episode some years ago and also talking to us about her investigation into and writing on Colombian historic figure: José María Córdova and much more.

But, on this episode we have a more free-flowing conversation about Colombia, her move from Antioquia to Eastbourne UK, the current state of politics in Colombia, getting her dog from Colombia to the UK, the infamous UK Covid-19 redlist, environmental concerns and whether or not she's secretly a spy.

Colombia news from journalist Emily Hart.

Tune in!

Direct download: RCC_399.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

On Episode 398 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we address a sadly overlooked topic and that of the human rights and environmental defenders in Colombia. It is a great honour to host Isabel Cristina Zuleta, praised by Amnesty International for her work with Ríos Vívos - Antioquia Movement, in defense of the territory, and of the affected communities in the area of ​​influence of the Hidroituango project, and Beto Coral, a Colombian activist in exile in the US for having named former president Alvaro Uribe as the head of the Aguilas Negras paramilitary group. Coral's father was part of the squad involved in hunting down Pablo Escobar and was later murdered by a corrupt policeman.

We hear their thoughts on the 2022 presidential elections in Colombia, how they became activists, what they campaign for and the threats on their lives.

News as always from journalist Emily Hart

Direct download: RCC_398.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Alexander Diamond joins the Colombia Calling podcast from Briceño, Antioquia to tell us about his research which has kept him in the rural Colombian town for 24 months so far.

Briceño is a so-called "peace laboratory," designated as a principal site for coca crop substitution after the signing of the peace accords between the government of President Santos and the FARC guerrillas in 2016.

Now, the location of a tug of war power struggle between dissident guerrillas and paramilitaries, for this area that has suffered so much, the future is in the balance.

Diamond shares the findings from his PhD research and some insights into the documentary he is making entitled: An Uncomfortable Peace.We discuss the violence, the neighbouring dam in the town of Ituango and more, check out his website

Direct download: RCC_397.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

On Episode 396 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we get to discuss the disease of leishmaniasis in the context of the Colombian armed conflict and post conflict period with post doctoral fellow Lina Beatriz Pinto-Garcia.

Pinto Garcia's ethnographic monograph explores how the Colombian armed conflict and a vector-borne disease called cutaneous leishmaniasis are inextricably connected and mutually constitutive.

The stigmatization of the illness as “the guerrilla disease” or the "subversive disease," is reinforced by the state’s restriction on access to antileishmanial medicines, a measure that is commonly interpreted as a warfare strategy to affect insurgent groups.

Situated at the intersection between STS (Science and Technology Studies) and critical medical anthropology, her work draws on multi-sited field research conducted during the peace implementation period after the agreement reached by the Colombian government and FARC, the oldest and largest guerrilla organization in Latin America.

It engages not only with the stigmatization of leishmaniasis patients as guerrilla members and the exclusionary access to antileishmanial drugs but also with other closely related aspects that constitute the war-shaped experience of leishmaniasis in Colombia.

This work illuminates how leishmaniasis has been socially, discursively, and materially constructed as a disease of the war, and how the armed conflict is entangled with the realm of public health, medicine, and especially pharmaceutical drugs.

The problems associated with coca cultivation and leishmaniasis cannot be dissociated from cross-border events such as forced disappearance and the massive migration of Venezuelans who arrive in Colombia looking for survival alternatives, including coca production.

Tune in and hear about the Diseased Landscapes project

Direct download: RCC_396.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Hasta Siempre Colombia, Dr Paola Cubillos speaks to Colombia Calling.

Was Dr Paola Cubillos naive when she and her husband decided to gamble everything and return with their three children from Canada to Colombia? It was 2016 and the peace accord with the FARC guerrillas was all but signed, things appeared to be changing for Colombia and they wanted to be part of it.

The peace accord was signed not long after they arrived to live and work in Cali in southwestern Colombia. Then, the "No vote" was victorious in the referendum on the accords, there were the demonstrations in October 2019, Covid-19 in 2020 and then the strikes, protests and violence in the country in April and May 2021, and Cali, where they were living, was a particular flashpoint.

That was it. The family departed almost five years to the day that they arrived. On this, the fifth anniversary of the signing of the peace accords, we sit down with Dr Cubillos to discuss, from a Colombian's perspective, how the experiment of returning home was unsuccessful.

Tune in to Episode 395 of the Colombia Calling podcast for this and news from journalist Emily Hart.

Direct download: RCC_395.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

An exhilarating travelogue for a new generation about a journey along Colombia’s Magdalena River, exploring life by the banks of a majestic river now at risk, and how a country recovers from conflict.

An American writer of Argentine, Syrian, and Iraqi Jewish descent, Jordan Salama tells the story of the Río Magdalena, nearly one thousand miles long, the heart of Colombia. This is Gabriel García Márquez’s territory—rumor has it Macondo was partly inspired by the port town of Mompox—as much as that of the Middle Eastern immigrants who run fabric stores by its banks.

Following the river from its source high in the Andes to its mouth on the Caribbean coast, journeying by boat, bus, and improvised motobalinera, Salama writes against stereotype and toward the rich lives of those he meets. Among them are a canoe builder, biologists who study invasive hippopotamuses, a Queens transplant managing a failing hotel, a jeweler practicing the art of silver filigree, and a traveling librarian whose donkeys, Alfa and Beto, haul books to rural children

Tune in for an enjoyable conversation with the author and buy his book!

Direct download: RCC_394.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Exactly 40 episodes ago in December 2020, freelance journalist in Colombia, Joshua Collins (@InvisiblesMuros) made his first appearance on the Colombia Calling podcast talking about the border region at Cucuta and with neighbouring Venezuela.

So much has happened since then and we've collaborated on projects from Cucuta for the New Humanitarian and the Globe and Mail reporting on the tragedy of the Venezuelan migrants crossing into Colombia and making the journey South all the way to Chile in search of work.

Collins has been busy, such is the life of a freelancer, and he gives us the lowdown this week on his adventures and travel to the region of Catatumbo, one of Colombia's most important coca growing regions. Here he discovers various things but you'll have to tune in to hear more. We also discuss the protests in Cali, police brutality in Colombia, disappearances and finally his new project with other journalists:

Pirate Wire Serices

Direct download: RCC_393.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Adriaan Alsema of Colombia Reports says it was satire and the injured party from RCN Colombia claims that it was slander. You can decide for yourselves over the duration of this podcast which takes in the subject of Adriaan Alsema's legal difficulties in recent weeks and an overall look at the increase in harassment of journalists in Colombia.

Can a journalist in Colombia discuss corporate activity in criminal activity, asks Alsema of Colombia Reports? No stranger to controversy, Alsema takes this opportunity to present his side of various stories since the Colombian press has not wanted to cover it, preferring to only make reference to Diana P Camacho of RCN news.

Tune in

Direct download: RCC_392.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

On episode 391 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we talk to the director and producer of a new and incredibly insightful and moving documentary entitled: La Casa de Mama Icha.

Decades earlier, Mama Icha moved to Philadelphia in the United States to help her daughter with the care of her grandchildren. However, she never lost sight of her hometown of Mompox, spending years sending money to build her dream house there. Now, at the end of her life, Mama Icha boards a plane and flies back to Colombia where she finds joy and heartbreak in her return to the place her heart never left.

On Episode 391 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we sit down and chat with the documentary's director Oscar Molina and producer Brenda Steinecke to explore the themes of identity, belonging and returning home from Philadephia to Mompox after 33 years away.

La Casa de Mama Icha gets its cinematic release in Colombia in selected CineColombia theatres on 2 September 2021 and will be shown on PBS in the US on 18 October, mark your diaries!

Direct download: RCC_391.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

A great deal is made of the urban regeneration of Medellin's infamous Comuna 13, and for good reason, but now that there's a "been there, seen this, done that," attitude towards this success story, with tourists arriving in their droves to view the graffiti, ride on the escalators and marvel at the strength of a community in the face of such adversity, is it time to extend this policy of regeneration and hope beyond the frontiers of but one nighbourhood?

Exploring the issues which arise around such a concentrated focus has led to an intrepid group of Colombians and Europeans resident in Medellin to explore this imbalance. After 130 interviews, six months of investigation and consultations, the result is a new exhibition entitled: ContraMiradas - Narrativas de la Periferia Urbana.

Austrian urbanist, Manuel Oberlader, resident in Medellin, put together a team to address this contextual issue which may define the city and started exploring outer-lying and lesser know districts of Medellin and nearby Bello, Antioquia. What resulted has been an empowerment of said districts and their populations, such as those of La Cruz, Santo Domingo and Granizal. Locals from these barrios were taught photography, filmmaking and more and their stories are those which are now on display in the EPM Biblioteca in Medellin.

Our newscast journalist Emily Hart was also involved in the setup of this exhibition and therefore she joins myself and Oberlader in discussing the essence of the displays and what the team behind Contra Miradas was trying to achieve.

Come and visit as the exhbition runs from 17 August -30 October 2021.

Many of you are resident in Medellin or often passing through the city, please stop in and visit the exhibition to support this initiative.

Follow on Instagram:

Direct download: RCC_390.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

There's a humanitarian crisis taking place at Panama's southern border and in northern Colombia where thousands of migrants ranging from countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti and as far-flung as Congo, Syria and Nepal are lining up to cross the Darien Gap in the hope of some day reaching the United States of America.

On this week's Colombia Calling podcast, we have the honour of talking to Raul Lopez, project coordinator and Doctor Fabiola Pintado, both of Doctors Without Borders (Medicos sin Fronteras, Medecins sans Frontieres) at their location on the frontline in the town of Bajo Chiquito in Panama.

Lopez and Pintado speak to us about the awful state of the migrants emerging from the jungle after the 7-10 day trek of 60 miles through one of the world's most dangerous jungles. Women are raped, people are murdered, robbed, children washed away in turbulent rivers, people collapse from exhaustion are forced into being drugs mules and more. This is harrowing story of human suffering and is one which deserves to be widely heard.

Tune in and hear about an underreported tragedy at the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama and the work of the MSF.

Direct download: RCC_389.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

It's no stretch of the imagination to agree with Glen Galindo's description of himself as a problem solver and educator as he has carved out quite the life for himself in serving Colombia from his home base in Colombian coffee zone's town of Chinchina, Caldas.

With Galindo's set up, you can launch your Colombia Experience by immersing yourself within the public school system as an assistant teacher where you can brush-up your Spanish and gain insight on what's it like to work as a teacher in Colombia; In the meantime, our team finds you long-term teaching contracts for your consideration,

In an upbeat conversation with Galindo, one cannot help but feel positive for the future in Colombia. Check out his websites:

Direct download: RCC_388.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

On episode 387, we pick up where we left off in Episode 386 and continue to talk to our anonymous sources from La Primera Linea (front line) of protests in Colombia. Speaking to us from Cali and Popayan, these youths speak about the importance of education and voting, how police reform should occur and how the Colombian government could better spend aid money from international governments which all too often goes towards the purchase of lethal weaponry for the Colombian police.

We hear from Colombian Monica Hurtado in the US speaking on the importance of helping Colombia and Colombians from overseas and that the 5 to 10 million colombians resident outside of Colombia must register to vote in the 2022 presidential elections. MCI also discusses the difficulty of registering to vote.

With MCI and Michael we also hear both in English and in Spanish the letter to Colombia, written by German tourist turned activist Rebecca Sprößer, who was deported last week being accused of participating in acts of terrorism and vandalism during the protests in Cali.

Tune in!

Direct download: RCC_387.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

The Primera Linea, as the front line of the youths in Colombia's protests during the paro nacional strike is known, have been labelled as terrorists and vandals by the police and President Ivan Duque. In what is a first for the Colombia Calling podcast, we host a bilingual episode where three members of the Primera Linea share with us the reasons as to why they are striking, what they are demanding of the government and the hopeful outcomes to these protests.

On this occasion, we are able to question them on the violence and the destruction of public and private property, how do they respond to accusations of damaging the economy and more and in turn they also share stories of friends killed, facing up to riot police tanks and more.

Tune in to an important episode and a continuation of our series on the Paro Nacional protests in Colombia and thank you to Michael and MCI in the US for translating the interventions of the three individuals that share their stories with us.

Direct download: RCC_386.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

It's a great pleasure to have a true expert in their field on the Colombia Calling podcast and discussing one of the lesser known cultures in Colombia, that of the Raizal people of San Andres and Providencia. To most Colombians these Caribbean islands represent only a vacation escape but the truth is that there is so much more.

Sharika D. Crawford is associate professor of history at the United States Naval Academy and she joins us to talk about her extensive research on slave routes to the Caribbean from Africa, the culture and society of San Andres and Providencia and the issues facing these islands.

We also discuss her book: The Last Turtlemen of the Caribbean. Crawford describes the colonial Caribbean as an Atlantic commons where all could compete to control the region’s diverse peoples, lands, and waters and exploit the region’s raw materials. Focusing on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Crawford traces and connects the expansion and decline of turtle hunting to matters of race, labor, political and economic change, and the natural environment. Like the turtles they chased, the boundary-flouting laborers exposed the limits of states’ sovereignty for a time but ultimately they lost their livelihoods, having played a significant role in legislation delimiting maritime boundaries. Still, former turtlemen have found their deep knowledge valued today in efforts to protect sea turtles and recover the region’s ecological sustainability.

Direct download: RCC_385.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Many listeners have asked after the Colombia Calling news journalist and this week it's a pleasure to have the one and only Emily Hart with us here in Mompós to discuss her life and journalism here in Colombia.

Hart is a journalist and researcher from the UK with a strong background in politics and human rights and has been reporting on some fascinating topics here in Colombia. Her bylines have been featured in the Times, the Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, Sky News and Pitchfork.

On Episode 384 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we have the opportunity to get to know Hart better, talk about her life as a journalist, the writing process, the hunt for articles and how she reported on the demolition of Pablo Escobar's building in Medellin, the ancient rock art in Chiribiquete, illegal armed groups enforcing a Covid-19 lockdown in Colombia and the "rainforest electro" music which is sweeping this region of the Americas.

Tune in to hear more and follow Hart on twitter: @emily_h_h

Direct download: RCC_384.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Many years ago we aired a podcast entitled: "How Corrupt is Colombia?" (Ep172) and unfortunately, the question is still all too timely today. In fact the issue of corruption here is perhaps more pertinent than ever in 2021 in a post Odebrecht era in Colombia, with the Char family in Barranquilla still making overtures about potentially launching a campaign for the presidential elections in 2022 and a seemingly endless slew of accusations levied at politicians on every side of the political spectrum.

On Episode 383 of the Colombia Calling podcast, Will Freeman, Ph.D. candidate in Politics at Princeton University shares his knowledge on the subject of corruption in Colombia and the region.

Freeman's research focuses on understanding how developing democracies strengthen the rule of law and fight corruption. His forthcoming dissertation is a study of the development of anti-corruption efforts in Colombia, Guatemala, and Peru and he spent much of his time doing fieldwork and investigations on the subject in Barranquilla, Colombia.

With Freeman, we discuss Odebrecht, the Char family, the Cartel de la Toga and further elements of regional corruption.

Tune in and also follow Freeman on Twitter: @WillGFreeman

Direct download: RCC_383.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

It's an absolute pleasure to welcome Elizabeth Dickinson, Snr Analyst for Colombia at Crisis Group, back on the Colombia Calling podcast to explore more profoundly the unrest and the #paronacional in Colombia.

We recorded this episode as Colombia hit an unenviable benchmark of 24 days of protests which began on April 28. What is going on, why and what can we expect in the coming months as we move into the presidential election cycle in 2022?

Showing complete clarity, Dickinson has been producing some of the most insightful interpretations of events in Colombia. There's an exasperation in the country and people are clamouring for social justice and security. Of course, the pandemic has exacerbated things, but when 84% of Colombia's youth are in favour of the national strike (Paro Nacional), something is definitely awry.

We discuss the violence in Cali, how the strike extends beyond the urban and into the rural, what to expect from the negotiations with the government of President Duque and where Colombia goes from here.

Expect an in-depth analysis of the 2016 peace accords in Colombia and the need for leadership and political courage from the country's politicians. Dickinson explains that it will impossible for the government to address the long list of grievances in Colombia, but empathy, accountability and a comprehension of the underlying issues in this nation would be a good place to start.

Tune in for an incredible conversation with one of the top analysts on Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_377.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

As the the nationwide paro nacional protests continue in Colombia, it's worth taking a moment to explore an incredibly important piece of news which has been buried by their blanket coverage in the press.

This week, on Episode 376 we speak to journalist and investigator Andres Bermudez ( about the recent admission by the FARC guerrillas that kidnapping was an official policy and not an "economic retention," as they previously had claimed.

This admission by the FARC secretariat before the Special Peace Jurisdiction/ Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz or JEP, is a landmark decision taken by the former guerrillas and we're waiting to see what the JEP draws up.

We explore this and more themes, including an update on the protests in Colombia with journalist Emily Hart in Medellin.

Direct download: RCC_376.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

These are troubling times in Colombia. This episode was recorded on Sunday 9 May during the 12th day of nationwide protests in Colombia. Sergio Guzman, Director of Colombia Risk Analysis joins us to provide a total overview of what has been going on here.

Guzman is recently returned from Cali where a great deal of the unrest has been taking place. We hear about what the situation felt like in Cali and the overall ambiance there. Then, Guzman provides us with a look at the situation in Colombia in the lead in to the strikes, what has gone on during the strikes and the government of President Ivan Duque's reactions and finally, what we might expect from a period of dialogue in the future.

This is a timely and important episode and worth listening to in order to understand the malaise in Colombia, the nation's youth who feel that there is no future for them here and the overall discontent which has been simmering for some time.

Check out Colombia Risk Analysis:

Direct download: RCC_375.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Joining us from Cali, Colombia is Heidi Paster Harf to explain to us a little about the phenomenon of "emerrging jews" in Colombia. To explain this, first let's put this into perspective: One of the most striking contemporary religious phenomena is the world-wide fascination with Judaism.

Traditionally, few non-Jews converted to the Jewish faith, but today millions of people throughout the world are converting to Judaism and are identifying as Jews or Israelites and Colombia is no exception.

This overall phenomenon constitutes a dramatic turning point in Jewish history, since traditionally non-Jews had little or no interest in joining the Jewish people. This new reality has many implications, as it is beginning to change the face of Jewish communities and at the same time sharpen the debate over the boundaries of the Jewish collectivity.

So, tune in to hear about this and here in Colombia, something I had no knowledge of before reading her Harf's article and seeing her photographs in the Washington Post recently.

Tags and Keywords: heidi paster harf, hiedi harf photographer, colombia calling, cali, emerging jews, emerging jews colombia, jews colombia, jews south america, richard mccoll, richard mccoll journalist, richard mccoll podcast, podcast colombia

Direct download: RCC_374.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Angela Sierra is a self-described bookish foodie chocoholic coffee lover, writing stories from and about Colombia and this where we begin on Episode 373 of the Colombia Calling podcast this week.

What are the relationships between Culture, Identity and Society? And where do these fit into a country as complex as Colombia? By addressing these issues and more, we enjoy an open and flowing dialogue about cultural clashes, appropriation and how to live in this land.

A little more about Angela:

"I was born in Colombia, in a city called Pereira, where you get a clear view of a volcano every morning, siestas are sacred and macaws let you know when it's time to turn off your computer and enjoy the sunset. But my family moved to the US when I was still in diapers, so I didn't remember my homeland growing up. Still, I ate arepas and Pop Tarts, feared the Boogie Man and La Llorona in equal measure and got presents from Santa and El Niño Dios.

We moved back to Colombia many years ago and I’ve lived here since, writing stories from and about this magical place."

Download the book Unbound wherever you prefer to get your books and check out Angela's website:

Direct download: RCC_373.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

On this week's Colombia Calling podcast, we have the pleasure of speaking to Damon O'Neill a Londoner based in Medellin and volunteering at the Ecoparque above Comuna 13 in the city.

A former trialist for West Ham and Tottenham football clubs, O'Neill brings his football talent to the city of Medellin and trains up children from Comuna 13 in his spare time.

But, there's more to this story, the idea is not only to train children in football but also to open up the area above Comuna 13 to tourists, both domestic and international. It's a natural escape with unrivalled views over the city, there's the option of excursions on horseback and visitors are able to enjoy freshwater pools in which to swim, places to eat, play volleyball and more.

However, despite bringing more tourism and visitors to the area, high above the well-travelled route of the Comuna 13 graffiti and Hip Hop tour, the aim is also to allow tourists to learn more about the infamous history of the area, such as what went on at La Escombrera.

Check out the Ecoparque on Instagram: @ecoparque13

Direct download: RCC_372.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

You may or may not have heard of journalist and documentary maker Andrew Gold, such is life, but I highly recommend his podcast: "On the Edge with Andrew Gold." Gold's podcast is one of my go-to shows for when I walk the dog during these trying pandemic times and it never fails to maintain my attention and awaken my curiosity.

What is little known perhaps is that Andrew Gold lived in Medellin for a while and has a "Colombia story" to share with us alongside with other anecdotes from his varied and always interesting career path.

So here's a little about Andrew Gold to whet your appetite.

Gold is a journalist and TV presenter who speaks 5 languages & lived in 6 countries, producing docs on bizarre and controversial subcultures. He battled an abusive exorcist, duelled with the Crazy Baby Lady and hunted UFOs. The actor Viggo Mortensen made fun of him on live Argentine TV. After a joke went wrong, he became known in Argentina as The Last English Virgin. He represented England in beer-pong (also on live TV) and lost to a 12-year-old Panamanian girl.

Check out his podcast and website:

Direct download: RCC_371.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

It's not every day you hear of someone on a sports scholarship to a US university and then returning to Colombia to follow her passion of rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing birds of prey back into the wild. Well, that's Ana María Morales' story!

Morales' describes these incredible birds of prey as "raptors," and so to clarify: Raptors are birds of prey in the orders falconiformes and strigiformes. In English, that means eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, osprey, kites, and others, their main feature of a raptor is a hooked beak and long, sharp talons.

We discuss her experiences with Peregrine Falcons, Hawks, the Harpy Eagle and of course, how we need to work together with farmers to understand their predicament and those of the wildlife around them. This can be a tricky topic, but through talking, open dialogue and understanding, things can be achieved.

Tune in to an episode where the wildlife takes the front seat and we talk conservation, birding, birders, rescue and rehabilitation and how we can all help.

Check out

Direct download: RCC_370.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00pm EDT

Renouned conflict photgrapher with experience in civil wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua, the genocide in Rwanda and so much more, Malcolm Linton, joins us once again on the Colombia Calling podcast to share some more of his stories from the field. His experiences in some of the most brutal conflict arenas, his desire to cover humanitarian causes and the first time he was shot....this and more on Episode 369.

Why has he returned to the Colombia Calling podcast? To share his experiences and also to talk about the new photography workshop he has designed and set up for three separate dates in picturesque Mompós, Colombia.

TALKING PHOTOS: Malcolm Linton’s Mompox Workshop

Starting at the end of May 2021, international photojournalist Malcolm Linton will be staging a monthly photography workshop in the Colombian colonial town of Mompox in collaboration with the Hotel San Rafael and La Casa Amarilla.

The workshop is for photographers — from amateurs to professionals — who want to express themselves more fully in their images. It will run for three full days, usually from Friday to Sunday, with a welcome dinner the night before it begins.

The workshop will be limited to 15 people at three different rates, depending on the amount of personal tuition from Malcolm that clients wish to receive. The first two sessions (late May, early July) will be in English, and future sessions will be in English or Spanish, depending on demand.

Sign up (Mompox Workshop)

Direct download: RCC_369.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

By all accounts 2020 looked set to be a record year for international tourism to Colombia. It's obviously old news now what happened and that the service industry has been battered by the Covid-19 pandemic...but what have travel agencies and hotels been doing during this time and how do they plan to create a motor for growth once again?

This week we talk to Bruce McLean, a New Zealander now resident in Viterbo in Colombia's coffee region to talk about his travel agency - - and how he has been preparing for post pandemic tourism in Colombia and how he sees the evolution of the industry here and as a whole.

Whether you’d like to explore the Amazon; travel through the spectacular coffee zone; discover the culture of Bogota and the beauty of Barichara; enjoy whale watching and untouched nature on the Pacific Coast; Enjoy an amazing experience with turtles laying eggs in the dead of night, and others hatching the following morning; Explore the Caribbean, Tayrona Park, Cartagena, and the Rosario Islands; travel into the Tatacoa desert and walk amongst pre-Colombian stone statues and tombs in San Agustin, or maybe you’d like to see rock paintings dating back 1000’s of years and swim with pink dolphins, Colombia has it all and so much more.

Direct download: RCC_368.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Sabrina Prioli first joined us on the Colombia Calling podcast in 2013 on Episode 23, now on Episode 367 and eight years later, we catch up with her in Zambia and chart her life and work from Colombia to Peru, South Sudan and then to her present location.

For more than ten years Prioli has worked in humanitarian projects in montoring and evaluation and is keen to share with us that there is very little if any psychosocial help for aid workers spending extended periods of time in conflict zones.

After a life-changing and horrific event in South Sudan which saw a local journalist executed at the hands of government forces, another colleague shot in the legs and several women subjected to multiple rapes, Prioli was in a dark place, understandably. Two years of intense therapy in Italy, a court case in Juba, South Sudan and a tenacity and with a positivity that defies reason, Prioli has started her own professional coaching.

Prioli is a certified professional Co-Active coach that helping Workers and NGOs to prevent burnout and develop leadership methods, so that people can feel empowered and bring humanitarian projects closer to their goals.

Tune in to hear an inspiring story of resilience and strength

Check out her website:

Direct download: RCC_367.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Children Change Colombia is the largest UK charity working exclusively in Colombia and we are honoured to have Executive Director Angela Maria Carreño on the show this week to explain their work on this the 30th anniversary of their founding.

CCC has been working with children and their families to challenge poverty, inequality, discrimination and violence in Colombia. Of course, it's far from plain sailing in Colombia and to this day, millions of Colombian children still face poverty, violence and exclusion from the opportunities presented by a changing society.

Children are at risk of forced displacement, sexual exploitation or recruitment into armed groups, they are denied education, a loving family or a place to play, CCC works to ensure that every child can claim their right to a safe and happy childhood and a fulfilling future.

Please sign up for the Children Change Colombia newsletter:
view the website:

Direct download: RCC_366.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Perhaps we don't think much about youth activism for the environment and climate change in Colombia all too much...Greta Thunberg dominates the international headlines, but awareness of a movement driven by the country's youth is becoming more apparent.

Cast your mind back to the 11 November demonstrations when Colombians of all sectors of society and of all age groups flooded the streets with their list of demands for the government. Amongst the throng of people, Colombia's younger generations were present and fighting their corner with regards to climate change and the environment. The atmosphere was one of hope for the future.

This week we speak to Juan Jose Guzman, co director of the foundation Pacto X El Clima (, an entity set up to give a voice to Latin America's youth. It's inspiring to hear of the organization and how activism in Latin America differs from that in Europe or the US. Of course, we have to also take into account the danger associated with activism of this type in the region.

And finally, Guzman provides us with his perspectives for the future in Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_365.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Buenaventura is one of the major ports on the continent, accounting for nearly 60% of all Colombian sea imports and exports. However, due to its strategic position, the city's economy has been hampered by gang-related activity fighting over control of the port, making it among the most impoverished cities in Colombia with an unemployment rate of roughly 88% for a population of around 400 thousand.

And now, Buenaventura is in the news once again in Colombia, and for all the wrong reasons.

Following on from her first appearance on the Colombia Calling podcast on Ep334 (The Problem with the Coastal Cities of Colombia's Pacific). US academic Shauna Gillooly graciously agreed to return to provide us with a background as to what is going on in Buenaventura.

Tune in to hear about an overlooked and under reported news story from Colombia in which powerful economic interests lead to the displacement and suffering of traditional communities.

Direct download: RCC_364.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Eddie White Jr has courted some controversy here in Colombia, not least with his casual observation and caricatures of "the girls of Medellin." We sit down for a conversation about his art, the long term goal of producing a book and indeed, to hear his side of the story surrounding "that" Medellin image.

In what is a friendly and frank conversation, we learn of White's love for Colombia and his admiration of the people here. His desire is to promote the country and show the wonders and exoticism here through his observational pop art.

Hear artist Eddie White Jr's story and check out his artwork on Instagram.

Direct download: RCC_363.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT