Colombia Calling - The English Voice in Colombia (general)

Venezuelans go to the polls to vote for a president on 28 July 2024, in what will not be free and fair elections, this much is certain.

Here on the Colombia Calling podcast, we understand the necessity and importance of informing our listeners further about what is taking place and is in the news from sister and neighbouring countries to Colombia, and Venezuela is no exception.

Ana Milagros Parra is renowned Venezuelan political scientist and also co-host of the excellent: "A Medias" podcast, a Spanish language broadcast discussing all things related to her home country.

Most importantly, Parra has remained in Venezuela to continue to educate and work towards a more just future.

But, having been described by Venezuelan strongman, Diasdado Cabello as: "more dangerous to Venezuela than a shooting in an elevator," she has to watch what she says.

However, luckily for us, she feels more empowered in English and tells us how things are currently in her country.

There is a movement towards freedom in Venezuela, the opposition candidate Edmundo Gonzalez will unlikely win the elections, due to a likely dirty tricks campaign by the regime of Nicolas Maduro overseeing a criminal state, but this is the first time that the opposition has been organised, properly mobilised and leading the polls. This is largely due to the former candidacy of Maria Corina Machado, disqualified from running under spurious circumstances in 2023.

As Parra says in our interview: "modern dictatorships dress in the shirt of democracy," so we will see what happens in coming days and months.

Tune in for a fascinating conversation about Venezuelan politics.

The Colombia Briefing is reported by Emily Hart. Check out her Substack:

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On this week's episode we speak to Mario Pinzón in the studio and discuss his views on Colombia and Colombian politics from the perspective of a citizen living overseas in Canada.

We discuss why Pinzón left Colombia (under duress), what it meant to leave his country behind and how he came to understand the value of being Colombian.

Emily Hart reports the Colombia Briefing.

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This week your host, Richard McColl moves over to the role of interviewee as friend and fellow immigrant to Colombia, Eric Tabone switches up responsibilities and fires questions at your friendly Briton.

This is your chance to learn a little bit more about journalist, hotelier and writer Richard McColl. Tabone leaves no stone unturned as he delves into McColl's tall tales from the past, all of them true.

Tropical illnesses in Brazil, how he arrived in Colombia, scrapes in the Rio favela of Mangueira, writing experience, how did he become a hotelier, why and how did he come to start publishing books? It's all here and more.

Thank you to Eric Tabone for his time and line of questioning.

The Colombia Briefing is reported by Emily Hart.

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It has become clear that the kind of coverage we can now expect from the mainstream media regarding protests is one which serves to highlight protestors' violence, weaken support for the strike and delegitimise grassroots perspectives because, even when ordinary citizens are given a voice, they will unlikely openly criticise their government.

This is the "protest paradigm."

It is all too common to find an overwhelming number of quotes in a report or article from government officials and the like, and a lack of perspectives explaining the root cause of the protests.

So, this week, Richard McColl of Colombia Calling teams up with Adriaan Alsema of Colombia Reports in Medellin and Joshua Collins of Pirate Wire Services to discuss this phenomenon in the press and media world, citing concrete examples from the 2019 and 2021 Paro Nacional in Colombia and making comparisons with what is being seen during the protests at US universities such as Columbia in NY at this present moment.

The Colombia Briefing is reported by Emily Hart.

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Medellin and Colombia are hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons, due to sexual exploitation of children by foreign visitors.

In April, a US citizen was caught bringing two girls, ages 12 and 13, into the Hotel Gotham, in the exclusive sector of El Poblado in Medellin. There was all sorts of paraphernalia in this individual's room, to suggest his guilt but since he wasn't "caught in the act," he was held by the police for 12 hours and later fled the country.

The Hotel Gotham has since closed its doors for good.

So, on this week's Colombia Calling podcast, we talk to Tyler Schwab of the NGO, Libertas International, which is involved in care for the victims of these sexual predators. They have more than 100 people in their care and are on the front lines in the battle against this scourge.

We talk about the measures being taken in Medellin by the politicians, who are these people that come down to exploit children, how can this be stopped and more? Schwab has even been present at the raid on a pedophile's house in Medellin.

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On this week's Colombia Calling podcast, we sit down and chat with Gary Murray, a former hotelier in Colombia and compare notes on the business.

Murray's experiences, on the whole, have been incredibly negative, mine on the other hand have been positive and so we look at some of the socio cultural nuances to running a business in Colombia, hear some outrageous and horrendous stories which occurred in Murray's hotel in an exclusive part of Bogota and reflect on what may have been.

We cover stories and anecdotes on unfaithfulness in a relationship, petty theft in the business, dodgy dealings, money laundering and so much more.

The Colombia Briefing is reported by Mathew Di Salvo.

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"Get the most from your time in Colombia by adjusting your expectations with regard to what you probably take for granted: Punctuality [never], Predictability [rarely], Promiscuity [frequently], and Passion [always]."

And so it goes as we explore Colombia by way of Barry Max Wills' writing in his debut novel, a memoir entitled: "Better than Cocaine: Learning to Grow Coffee, and Live, in Colombia," published by Fuller Vigil.

Enjoy a far-reaching conversation with a master story-teller.

It's competition time too! Tune in and hear how you can win a copy of Barry's book.

The Colombia Briefing is reported by Emily Hart.

Buy the book here:

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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.

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Imagine starting your first business venture from a huge wooden treehouse, nestled on a wild island off the coast of the Colombian Pacific.

Linsey Rankin left Australia to travel, arrived in Colombia in 2013. After working in tourism, education, and health, she set about creating a business model that would allow her to be creatively independent, establish a tribe and give back positively…Prana Pacifico was born.

In April 2017 Prana Pacifico offered its first yoga retreat, and since then, the operation has continued to grow and evolve. In this interview, Linsey shares with us her journey to becoming a yogipreneur and building a supportive community of like-minded people.

But, Rankin’s adventures are far from over.

Based on her time on Colombia’s pacific coast, she has published a recipe book entitled simply: “A Taste of Paradise.” And if this wasn’t enough, she’s moving to Chile, to the town of Pichilimeu, to open a restaurant.

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This week, Emily Hart is setting out into the Wild West of cryptocurrencies here in Colombia and beyond.

Is cryptocurrency the future of finance in Latin America? Is it safe? Is it just another way for rich people to hide their wealth from the tax man? Or for criminals to launder income? Or could it be a way for people to take banking into their own hands, a way for all of us to take control from a global system of banking we have so little say in?

To explain all of that, we have on the show today Mat Di Salvo, Colombia-based correspondent covering crypto since 2019 for Decrypt, and two experts from Global Financial Integrity, a Washington DC-based think tank focused on illicit financial flows, corruption, and money laundering. Claudia Helms is the Director of the Latin America and Caribbean Program at GFI, having worked at the Organization of American States; And formerly at the UN, Claudia Marcela Hernández works as Policy Analyst for Central America in Global Financial Integrity.

By early 2020, the region had 15.8% of the total volume of bitcoins worldwide, and it has grown exponentially since then. Last year, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina were in the top 20 for global adoption – Colombia was 32nd in the world. Venezuela was 40th.

Looking at crypto in any country requires a close look at the context, unique in every case: this region is turning to digital and virtual currencies for many different reasons, using it to send remittances, invest, and save – especially important in countries that have unstable governments, high inflation, or low levels of trust in institutions.

Here in Latin America, levels of poverty and informal employment might create barriers to usage, while technological and educational gaps create unique challenges for users, especially when a new digital revolution of cryptocurrencies and virtual assets arrives without adequate regulation, government oversight, or consumer awareness – particularly around scams and security. This is why GFI started - a set of resources around crypto in Latin America designed for users and policy-makers alike.

Basically, regulation of cryptocurrencies in the region does not adequately match its current usage and adoption. Colombia has yet to adopt legal framework, despite a growing number of users, but there is movement around this issue and various institutions have released commentary on it, and President Gustavo Petro has expressed interest in encouraging crypto usage - and mining - in the country.

Thanks to the anonymous nature of this universe, it’s difficult to get accurate data on exactly who is using crypto and what for, and though it’s certainly not only criminals using these currencies and assets, they have high potential for money laundering and channelling illicit flows of money, from stolen funds and fraud to payments for illegal goods and funding of terrorist groups.

We’ll be talking about the opportunities and risks associated with cryptocurrencies, how their form and use are evolving, plus how (and why) cryptocurrencies can and should be regulated.

The Colombia Briefing is also reported by Emily Hart – to get it direct to your inbox or email, you can subscribe to the Colombia Briefing via her Substack or subscribe to the podcast’s Patreon.

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On this week's Colombia Calling podcast we speak to Sara Tufano, the author of "Colombia: unaherida que no cierra," (Planeta, 2023) and a former member of the Clandestine Colombian Communist Party. After surviving some periods in conflict in Colombia as a member of the FARC guerrillas, she now dedicates her life to academia.

Sara Tufano is a sociologist specializing in the Colombian conflict and the history of peace processes. She holds a B.A. in Human and Social Sciences from the University of Paris VII and a M.Sc. in Sociology from the University of São Paulo. She is currently an opinion columnist for the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.

The Colombia Briefing is reported by Emily Hart.

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This week, Emily Hart speaks to Andrea González Duarte about Mi Barrio, Mi Sueño - the women’s empowerment project she founded in La Honda, a neighbourhood in the hills of Medellín.

Andrea was born here in Colombia, then was adopted and grew up in the Netherlands, moving back here with a degree in social work many years later. The project began with barrio boxing – boxing classes for girls and women in the neighbourhood. With a background in sports education, Andrea knows well how sports - and particularly boxing - can serve as a means of teaching self-defence, of connecting with one’s own body after trauma.

Through social and emotional skills training, the group nurtures a safe space for girls and women to freely express their thoughts and emotions – with participants of all ages, from small children up to grandmothers. Over the last four years, the project has expanded to educational and economic empowerment, with their own community centre, regular extracurricular lessons and an artisanal social enterprise run by single mothers, along with workshops about adolescence, gender, rights, and other skills like entrepreneurship.

The safe space of the community centre is just a physical manifestation of that idea – the afternoon classes provide somewhere for young people to spend the afternoon after school, and the social links and the skills they gain and share build resilience and self-esteem.

Emily and Andrea discuss the project, its evolution, and its philosophy, following Emily's visit to La Honda this week - she was really struck by the brilliant simplicity of what has been created, as well as the intricate social fabrics which these projects work to weave and strengthen within the community – we're really excited to share Andrea's ideas and experiences - especially with International Women's Day being this week.

To find out more about Mi Barrio, Mi Sueño, check out and on instagram

Your headlines reported this week by Grace Brennan.

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On this week's Colombia Calling podcast, Ohio native and now resident of Medellin, Zach Meese, joins us to discuss Nearshoring in his adopted homeland.

Now, I am pretty unfamiliar with Nearshoring, so Meese walks me through it and why the city of Medellin, Colombia is the ideal place for a business of this type.

Nearshoring is defined as a close relocation and refers to the practice of relocating business operations to a nearby country. And so, we ask why this happens and is it sustainable?

Certainly, for businesses in the USA, there's no significant time-zone difference, not too great a culture clash and in Colombia, there's a highly educated the practice solely for economic purposes?

Tune in for this and the Colombia Briefing reported by Emily Hart.

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Adventurer Daniel Eggington is back! After completing the crossing of the Darien jungle along the Pacific side from Colombia to Panama in 2022, Eggington has decided to return to Colombia to embark on a three-month expedition along the Rio Negro all the way to Manaus in Brazil.

The Rio Negro is over 1400 miles long with its widest point in Brazil at around 18 miles wide that is based around the Anavilhanas National Park. Eggington will face dangers from gold miners, illegal logging groups and perhaps come across unknown communities. Much of this expedition is uncharted territory.

Hear us discuss his planned trip, his fears and hopes and why he wants to do this. Foolhardy, very possibly...adventurous, almost certainly. Watch this space as we will be detailing Eggington's progress via GPS reports.

The Colombia Briefing is reported by Emily Hart.

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On this week's Colombia Calling podcast we hear about British photographer Natasha Johl's work in photographing the Arahuacas in Colombia's Sierra Nevada.

Descendents of the Tairona, an ancient South American civilization, indigenous group, the Arhuacos, reside in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The Arhuaco have developed an understanding of the earth which gives equal measure to the human mind and spirit and the forces of nature. The Sierra Nevada is a microcosm of earth: A seamless gradient of life that changes with each upward step.

Because of this unique feature, it is known as the ‘Heart of the World’ to the indigenous communities who inhabit the mountains and valleys. The Arhuaco say that when the world was created, they emerged from this very spot. They call it the Mother.

Johl uses the quiet and quotidian nuances in life to present an intimate picture. Looking at the smaller, seemingly insignificant or unnoticed things, makes us appreciate the complex and delicate moments of everyday life.

Tune in for a wonderful narrative from the foothills of Minca where Johl now lives and hear how she has succeeded in earning the confidence of the Arahuacas, to be able to spend significant time with them.

Check out her website:

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Paula Delgado-Kling takes us to her homeland, Colombia, where she finds answers to the country’s drug wars by examining the life of Leonor, a former child soldier in the FARC, a rural guerrilla group.

But, this story doesn't begin with Leonor, it commences during Delgado-Kling's childhood, when Colombia’s violence also touched her family and her brother was kidnapped and held in captivity for six months. It becomes intensely personal.

Our conversation spans decades of the author's life as she follows the life and hardships of Leonor, but also, becomes aware of her upbringing in the context of Colombia's conflict, what is means for her identity, her family and how she sees her home nation today.

Buy the book: Leonor: The Story of a Lost Childhood

The Colombia News Brief is reported by Emily Hart.

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This week on the Colombia Calling podcast, we discuss Colombian food and observe it through the philosophically tilted lens of expert Juliana Duque.

Halfway between the abstract and the tangible, Colombian cuisine is the taste and the colour of abundance. The fertile soils of the American continent shaped pre-Colombian food cultures. Changes over the centuries have shown the influence of the Andes, running the length of South America, the Pacific coast extending for thousands of kilometres, and the glorious Caribbean, universally loved for its sunshine and warmth.

We discuss elements of place and time in addition to the importance of food in its context as well as some of the consequences of colonialism on a culinary landscape.

Juliana Duque is a writer, editor, and critic of contents about food and culture. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology from Cornell University with emphasis on Latin America. Duque has collaborated with platforms such as Netflix, Condé Nast, Eater, KCET, Life & Thyme, New Worlder and Fine Dining Lovers and is the author of the book "Sabor de Casa (Intermedio Editores, 2017)," which tells the stories and visions of fourteen Colombian chefs who have led the revitalization of Colombian cuisine in the last thirty years, and former editor of Cocina Semana Magazine.

Check her out at:

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This week, we are exploring the underground and invisible networks of Colombia – along with some of its strangest and least-understood creatures: fungi.

We’ll be talking about zombie fungi, shamanic fungi and magic mushrooms, the Wood Wide Web, sunscreen spores, makeup fungi, and eco-warrior fungi – plus why this fascinating mega-science has been so neglected, and why it’s more urgent than ever that mycology gets the awareness, resources, and respect that it deserves.

Emily Hart interviews two of Colombia’s top scientists and leaders in their fields: mycologist Aida Vasco is Assistant professor at the School of Microbiology at the University of Antioquia and Co-Chair of the Colombian Association of Mycology; botanist Mauricio Diazgranados is Chief Science Officer and Dean of the International Plant Science Center at the New York Botanical Garden. Mauricio led the Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia project, including the development of the Colfungi portal and the Catalogue of Fungi of Colombia, on which Aida also worked.

There are an estimated 300,000 species of fungi in Colombia, the huge majority of which are unstudied. In fact, fungi in general remains one of science’s great mysteries: it is known as a ‘neglected mega-science’. They change animal behaviour, connect the forests, feed humans and animals, and may even be a key weapon in the fight against climate change.

Battling this vast gap in knowledge is the Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia project - an initiative led by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in collaboration with the Humboldt Institute. The projects aim to increase, consolidate, and make accessible the knowledge of the country’s useful plants and fungi for the benefit of local communities.

Fungi have played a vital role in shaping the Earth’s biosphere, and have directly impacted human society and its cultural evolution for the past 300,000 years - used as food, for ritualistic purposes, or as medicinal products.

In Colombia, fungi - in the form of wild edible mushrooms - are primarily used as a nutritional source, having long played a role in the food security of indigenous people and local communities: representations are found in the iconography of several pre-Hispanic cultures throughout the country, showing knowledge and a close cultural relationship with fungi. Shamanic and spiritual uses are also common in the country.

Habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, overuse of pesticides and fungicides, and of course climate change affect fungi as well as fauna and flora, but fungi are not explicitly included in biodiversity legislation, biodiversity action plans, and conservation policies in Colombia. The Colombian government only recognises three components of biological diversity: Fauna, Flora, and microorganisms.

But there is cause for hope – we are only just starting to understand fungi but the field is gaining momentum, and experiments show their potential is even grander than we have imagined – they are not only a sustainable food source to fight hunger and the industrial food which accelerates climate change: mushrooms can also decompose waste – including nappies and cigarette butts, and can be used in ‘myco-fabrication’ - manufacture of e.g. architecture and furniture. They are incredibly adaptive, and provide ways for plants and animals to survive even in extreme and degraded environments.

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This week, Emily Hart speaks to Cristina Fuentes La Roche, International Director of the Hay Festival, about arts curation and festival-making in the era of Artificial Intelligence and social media - and bringing one of the world's most successful literary festivals to Colombia for the last two decades.

The Hay Festival is known as 'the Woodstock of the Mind': Nobel Prizewinners and novelists, scientists and politicians, historians, environmentalists and musicians take part in the Festival’s global conversation, sharing the latest thinking in the arts and sciences with curious audiences. The festival kicks off in Colombia this month, with chapters this and next week in Medellín and Jericó, Antioquia, then in Cartagena at the end of the month. At this year's festival are Juan Manuel Santos, Wade Davis, Brigitte Baptiste, Rebecca Solnit, André Aciman, Héctor Abad Faciolince, Amalia Andrade, Margarita Rosa de Francisco, Humberto de la Calle, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Los Danieles and more!

Emily and Cristina chat all things Hay, Colombia, and the arts - delving into the importance of spontaneity, connection, and conversation - and how the upcoming global challenges we face will prove to be, above all, challenges of the imagination...

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It's Episode 500 of the Colombia Calling podcast!

Celebrate with us as we chat to Colombia's most famous dancer, Fernando Montaño.

Fernando Montaño was born in Buenaventura on the Pacific coast of Colombia and at the age of 14 won a scholarship to the National Ballet School of Cuba where he won several prizes at the International Ballet Contest in Havana, Cuba, and then joined the Cuban National Ballet. He also trained at La Scala and Teatro Nuovo di Torino, Italy where he was spotted by the Director of the English Ballet School and invited to the UK to audition, following which he joined the Royal Ballet in 2006 where he was mentored by Carlos Acosta.

We discuss his life as an artist - dancing, painting, designing - and his work supporting the charity, Children Change Colombia, the question of identity and being from Colombia's pacific coast.

Join us to hear and experience Fernando's unique energy, his reflections on life and opportunities and how he wishes to be remembered.

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

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On the final episode of 2023, the Colombia Calling podcast welcomes back Colombia Risk Analysis' director Sergio Guzmán and Daniel Poveda to discuss their latest report: "Understanding China's Tech Footprint in Colombia - Challenges and Opportunities," and also discuss 2023 in terms of Colombia's politics.

Hear Guzmán and Poveda discussing the strategic - or lack thereof - plans created by the Colombian government led by President Gustavo Petro, to court China but at the same time, not alienate their key partner...the United States.

We discuss Chinese tech investments and infrastructure investments, Colombia's relationship with Venezuela, where the government stands on the aggression towards Guyana and much more.

Check out Colombia Risk Analysis:

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Kidnapped by the FARC guerrillas whilst birding, Diego Calderon may just be Colombia's most famous birder.

This week on the Colombia Calling podcast, Calderon sits down with myself and journalist Natalia Malaver, to discuss how birding in Colombia can be a tool for reconciliation, his experience of being kidnapped, what the peace accord with the FARC means and all sorts of information about birdwatching in Colombia.

Tune in for this and the Colombia News brief reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Watch the NatGeo documentary of Calderon and his kidnapping experience here:

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This week, Emily Hart takes you on a sonic tour of Colombia, with the Humboldt Institute’s Natural Sound Collection: not only are we going to be hearing about this amazing project, we are going to be listening to some of the more unusual and noteworthy sounds from the collection itself and exploring what they tell us about Colombia’s natural environments and those who inhabit them.

We’ll hear a giant otter’s bark, the snore of a fish, a frog cocktail party, and mosquito love songs, plus bizarre and beautiful birds – along with a few other Colombian nature noises.

We are joined by the collection’s curator, Hoover Pantoja – expert in bioacoustics, technological development, and innovation; and Curator of Birds, Gustavo Bravo - evolutionary ornithologist and expert in the systematics, ecology, and evolution of Neotropical birds. This soundbank – known as the Mauricio Álvarez Rebolledo Collection - is the second largest repository of natural sounds in Latin America, with more than 24,000 audio recordings - of 20 species of mammals, 1064 birds, 131 amphibians, 17 insects, and numerous ambient recordings of Colombia’s innumerable ecosystems.

It has been built sound by sound since the 1990s, providing a crucial resource on a vastly underrated dimension of Colombia’s biodiversity, and ecology more generally. We’ll be talking about its evolution, from one man in the wilds of Colombia wielding a tape recorder through to the high-tech solutions – including of course artificial intelligence – being applied to the collection and the discipline more widely today. This sound bank is open to everyone - we'll be sharing the links so you can explore it for yourselves too.

We are going to be journeying through the unseen universe of natural sound – sounds we often don’t or even can’t hear - talking about which animals have evolved to make and hear sounds - and why, and how sound can be used to understand evolution and measure the health of ecosystems.

In the next hour, we’ll travel across Colombia from the Amazon to the Eastern Plains and beyond – with an unplanned but somewhat inevitable detour through Central Medellin.

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 In this week's episode, I reflect on four recent visits to the town of Capurgana on the Caribbean coast of the department of Choco. Capurgana is one of the jump-off points for migrants to begin the infamous and dangerous trek through the Darien jungle to Panama en route to their final destination of the United States.

In this episode, I relate my attempt to gain access to the migrant camp in Capurgana, my brief meeting with some members of the Clan del Golfo crime syndicate, finding two migrants from Togo and observing the arrival of people from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, China and Somalia.

Tune in for this and the Colombia News Brief reported by journalist Emily Hart.

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This week, Emily Hart gets the inside story on the #NarcoFiles - a new investigation into The Global Criminal Order, the largest investigative project of its kind to originate in Latin America. She speaks to OCCRP’s Latin America Editor Nathan Jaccard, who has led and coordinated this project - right from its earliest seeds in the 2022 hack to the incredible flourishing of reporting we’ve seen this week, and which continues to emerge.

Last year, a group of 'hacktivists' known as Guacamaya infiltrated the Microsoft Exchange server, enabling them to hack the system of the Colombian Attorney General's Office, the entity in charge of investigating and prosecuting crimes in Colombia. Five terabytes in size, the leak contains more than 7 million emails, including exchanges between the Fiscalia and numerous embassies, law enforcement groups, and others. The documents in the leak reveal unique details about the inner workings of international criminal gangs as well as law enforcement efforts to dismantle them.

The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), the Centro Latinoamericano de Investigación Periodística (CLIP), Vorágine, and Cerosetenta gained early access to the data, and then shared the leak with more than 40 other media outlets. Journalists from over 23 countries worked on the investigation.

Nathan will be giving us the who, what, and how of this story, as well as his insights into the new world of organised crime and cocaine trafficking revealed by this hack – from the changes in where cocaine is grown and produced to corruption of top officials in Suriname, as well as the narco-nexus between huge banana companies and Colombia’s political right wing, Israeli mafia in Colombia, links to the Odebrecht scandal and more – stories involving fruit, shark fins, and DEA Agents.

Emily will also be sharing with supporters and subscribers her top picks from the NarcoFiles reporting from a number of outlets, with translated versions - subscribe now to our Patreon to get access!

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Emily Hart takes us (way) back in time this week, to a very different Colombia - one well before the arrival of human beings… but in the process of looking back, we’ll also be looking forwards - to what the future on this planet might look like.

We have with us some of the team behind "Hace Tiempo" - an incredible book on Colombia’s paleontological past: Colombia’s leading palaeontologist, Carlos Jaramillo, Paleo-botanist at EAFIT University, Camila Martínez, and science communications specialist at Parque Explorer Luz Helena Oviedo.

This illustrated book - now in its second edition - is a paleontological journey through the country’s past, and winner of an Alejandro Ángel prize, one of the most important awards for scientists in Colombia. More than 30 Colombian palaeontologists, working all over the world, contributed to the book, which is available free online – – the physical version is for sale through the website of the Humboldt Institute, a key partner in its creation.

Colombia is enormously fossil-rich and with a huge variety of habitats past and present Understanding Colombia’s ancient flora and fauna is key to understanding the country’s incredible biodiversity today, which is the product of millions of years of evolution, but in the alarmingly short term, is threatened by climate change and the accelerating global extinction of species.

Uniquely, the project also gives readers in Colombia a paleontological resource which relates to the land around them. Rather than the well-known dinosaurs like T-Rex or triceratops, this book presents prehistoric animals peculiar to Colombia, like the 6-tonne giant sloth which lived here 50 million years ago, giant turtles the size of a cars, or the megalodon which roamed Colombia’s waters, the biggest shark to ever exist – bigger than a school bus.

The Titanoboa, meanwhile, was a vast snake weighing over a tonne, which roamed 60 million years ago in the then-tropical jungles of La Guajira, ancestor to the anaconda and the boa constrictor, its body was 13 metres long and – at a cross section - the size of a bicycle wheel. It is the largest snake ever to roam the earth. The Titanoboa was discovered by Carlos himself only a few years ago - after analysing tons of rocks extracted from the Cerrejón mines still active in La Guajira today.

The new and expanded edition of the book - just out - includes a new chapter on Perijasaurus Lapaz, a long-necked herbivorous Colombian dinosaur discovered in 2018 in the Serranía del Perijá. Its name pays homage both to where it was discovered and to the 2016 peace agreement with the FARC, hence lapaz - which allowed palaeontologists to explore that region for the first time in decades.

So today we'll be talking all about what Colombia looked like a very long time ago, what happened since, what fossil records can teach us about climate change, and whether humans are in fact, as Carlos will argue, the least successful species ever to live on Planet Earth.

Direct download: RCC_494.mp3
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On this episode of the Colombia Calling podcast, we get to talk to writer Paula Delgado Kling - after a long absence - about her book, which is now a reality and will be launched on 28 January 2024 (Tune in for further details).

"Leonor, the Story of a Lost Childhood," is a heart wrenching tale of a young girl who entered the FARC guerrillas in Colombia, becoming the "first girl" of the commander in her region of Putumayo.

Author Delgado Kling has had unrivalled access to Leonor over the space of some 20 years as she goes through the process of reintegration back into formal Colombian society after being captured by the military. Now a mother herself, Leonor has returned to her hometown of Mocoa and her life continues there.

However, this story is not just one of a young girl born into poverty, abuse and misery, it also runs parallel to Delgado Kling's family's experiences of having to leave Colombia due to the threat of kidnapping at the hands of the M19 guerrillas.

The Colombia News Brief is reported by Emily Hart.

Paula Delgado Kling´s website:

Direct download: RCC_493.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Colombia's leading astronomer, Dr Paola Pinilla, joins us to talk about planet formation, space technology, and diversity in the field of astronomy. We’ll be chatting about the knowledge and inspiration which arrives from outer space, how Paola's childhood in Bogotá led her across the world and into the depths of the universe, and the incredible elements we are all made of – Space Dust.

Paola's work focuses on how planets are born – the first steps of planet formation, growing from dust to entire planets – ranging from vast uninhabitable masses to planets just like the one you and I live on. As well as having won a fellowship from NASA, earlier this year Paola won one of the world’s most prestigious awards The New Horizons Prize - known as the Oscars of Science - for her ground-breaking work at the Mullard Space Lab at UCL University College London.

The Colombia News Brief is reported by Grace Brennan.

Direct download: RCC_492.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

On this week's Colombia Calling podcast, we welcome back Sam Believ to discuss the growth and success of his Ayahuasca (Yage) retreat in the heart of the Colombian countryside.

Since we last spoke, about a year and a half ago, Sam's retreat has gone from success to success, growing and becoming one of the reference points for Ayahuasca ceremonies in Colombia.

Sam says: "We combine authentic and pure medicine, strong shamans from long lineage (Taitas), amazing environment (set and setting), caring integration with best prices.

"We don’t just give you medicine, but we provide solid integration that will allow you to turn your ayahuasca experience into long lasting positive change in your life!"

Check out their website at: and their highly rated podcast:

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Direct download: RCC_491.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:57am EDT

It's time to start dispelling some myths about Colombia and celebrate the work of an author, embedded in the coffee region, and seizing the opportunity to immerse himself in life here with total gusto.

For years, Barry Max Wills has been honing his work of non-fiction, "Better than Cocaine: learning to grow coffee, and live, in Colombia," and we now have the finished product.

What is a charming observation and reflection of life "in the bush" as he puts it (he's Australian), is now available to buy and read as an e-book and will be out as a paperback and launched on 30 November 2023.

We discuss life in Colombia, being an immigrant and not an expat, writing and life in Colombia, our adopted homeland.

“You’ve bought what?’
‘A plantation in Colombia.’
‘Whatever for, darling? You’re not going to go off and live there, are you?’
‘No. Well, not now, anyway.’
‘And what are you going to grow? Cocaine?”

The book is by indie publisher Fuller Vigil: and available right now on Amazon as a kindle ebook:

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Direct download: RCC_490.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

On this week's episode, we discuss what it means to be a Bogotá City Councillor. Diego Laserna is a member of the Concejo de Bogotá for the Partido Alianza Verde and is up for re-election on 29 October.

Laserna tells us about the day to day work, issues of security and transport in Bogotá, about the mayoral candidates running for election (Galan, Oviedo, Bolivar, Lara, Robledo and Molano) and his thoughts on the outgoing Mayor, Claudia López and indeed of President Gustavo Petro.

What have been Laserna's successes over the past four years? What does he hope to do in the next four years?

Tune in to hear about A Day in the Life of a Bogotá City Councillor.

Check out Diego Laserna on social media @lasernabogota.

And tune in for the Colombia News Brief reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Direct download: RCC_489.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

And so, along with a new government, comes a new country brand for Colombia and this time it's: Colombia, the Country of Beauty or in Spanish: Colombia, El País de la Belleza.

Bruce McLean of BNBColombia Tours joins us this week to discuss this new advertising campaign for Colombia and to share with us how the travel and tourism industry is progressing from his perspective as an industry expert with his agency.

We discuss new travel destinations in Colombia, old favourites such as Cartagena, how travel and the tourism industry in Colombia is improving and enjoy a relaxed conversation to plug and promote Colombia as your next destination and what it means to be a travel agency that is carbon zero.

Check out:

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

and of course, the new Colombia country campaign video:

Direct download: RCC_488.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

This week, Tyler Schwab, director and founder of Libertas International, joins us to discuss the ongoing and nefarious practice of child exploitation in Colombia.

With investigations in all major Colombian cities, but focused principally in Medellín, Libertas International works hand in hand with local authorities to pursue foreign visitors coming to Colombia seeking to exploit the most vulnerable - the children.

The organization employs social workers and psychologists to aid with after-care and security and ensures that the full force of the law comes down on the offenders.

So, this is an opportunity to dispel some of the myths surrounding the recent film: The Sound of Freedom, starring Hollywood big-hitters such as actors Jim Caviezel and Mira Sorvino.

Libertas International is a non-profit corporation and operates exclusively for educational and charitable purposes. Their purpose is to help prevent child trafficking through education, rescue children through intervention, and rehabilitate survivors of human trafficking in Latin America through empowerment and aftercare.

Direct download: RCC_487.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EDT

Colombians go to the urns once again in national elections on 29 October 2023 and so, what better occasion to invite friend to the Colombia Calling podcast, Sergio Guzman, Director of Colombia Risk Analysis to explain some of the key issues and trends taking place.

We try and keep this conversation somewhat jovial since the outlook is pretty bleak!

There are four main talking points:

1. The 2023 local elections will become a referendum on President Gustavo Petro.
2. Lack of voter intention polls will likely affect voter preferences.
3. The erosion of the political party system is likely to continue.
4. Political Violence is likely to increase as Colombia gets closer to election day.

We discuss journalist Laura Ardila Arrieta's latest book: "La Costa Nostra," a deep dive into corruption overseen by the Char political clan from their seat of power in Barranquilla and take a look at other issues affecting the political landscape in Colombia.

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Tune in and also check out:

Direct download: RCC_486.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

The migration of a mennonite colony to Colombia's eastern plains is a little-known story worthy of greater coverage due to the environmental and social impacts this has had on the region and the traditional communities found here.

And yet, hardly anyone has heard about it.

On this episode of the Colombia Calling podcast (available wherever you get your podcasts), Oscar Parra from Rutas del Conflicto - a website dedicated to bringing you stories about the Colombian conflict not covered in the mainstream press - and journalist Natalia Malaver join me to discuss this topic.

Hear about the history of the Mennonites in Colombia, their use of a portion of land here, what they are producing and why the Colombian authorities look the other way as deforestation takes place in the name of progress.

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Check out:

Direct download: RCC_485.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

This week on Colombia Calling, Emily Hart is joined by María Fitzgerald – brilliant human rights journalist, writer, and Gender Editor at outlet Cambio.

Her new book, Los Nombres que Olvidamos (The Names We Forgot), collects chronically under-told and even hidden stories of Colombia’s everyday and normalised violence. It also serves as a statement against depersonalised writing, against the myopic focus of the mainstream news agenda, and as a call for better, more personal, and more humanising ways to narrate the country’s conflict (and indeed conflicts) and to foreground women’s bravery and action in the face of it.

We’ll be talking about women in conflict, social justice, and journalism via armed groups, the paro national, illegal mining, and more - as well as the female journalists who inspire us, from Svetlana Alexievich to Joan Didion.

Direct download: RCC_484.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Ricardo Cubides is the regional coordinator for the Colombian Caribbean region for the NGO CODHES - La Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento and it is an incredible honour to talk with him and tap into his knowledge of the sociopolitical issues here.

On this Episode of the Colombia Calling podcast - permitted only due to the fact that the conversation is in English - we deal with incredibly sensitive information about the chronology of armed groups in the region of the Canal del Dique, the structural racism and the on-going conflict in the region.

The Canal del Dique is a feat of engineering, built by slaves from Africa, commanded by the Spanish empire, running for 115km in length and connecting the lakes and waterways of the Magdalena river basin with the city and port of Cartagena.

Latterly, the area has been controlled by the EPL guerrillas, then the ELN and then the FARC before coming under the control of the AUC paramilitaries and now the AGC or Clan del Golfo.

We discuss the situation now and in particular alongside the ambitious Paz Total or Total Peace project promoted by the current government of President Gustavo Petro.

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

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Direct download: RCC_483.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Colombian distance record holder and paragliding guide, Sebastian Ospina works as a professional tandem pilot in Europe but perhaps is better known for his incredible achievements in paragliding competitions. It's a great honour for us to speak to him here on the Colombia Calling podcast.

We talk to Sebastian about his life as a paragliding expert living in Interlaken in Switzerland, how he became enamoured with the sport and some of the intricacies involved in competitive to stay alive!

Unable to fly for Colombia (explained in the conversation), Ospina was snapped up by team GB and with them won the Gold at the 2021 World Championship.

How much do you know about competitive paragliding? Did you know that there are four categories?

Precision Paragliding Landing
Acrobatic Paragliding
Cross Country
Hike & Fly

Check out some of Sebastian Ospina's titles, awards and more...

First pilot to fly over 200k straight line in Colombia
5x Winner of the Rolda Open (2013, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2013)
Winner of the British Winter Open 2019
3rd overall place XContest 2019 and 2020
Winner of the North American Paragliding Nationals 2022, Valle de Bravo
Team Gold at the World Championship 2021
6th at the World Championship 2021
Winner of the Eiger Tour challenge category 2022
6th World Cup Superfinal 2022

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

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Direct download: RCC_482.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Reading an extract from his forthcoming work of non-fiction: The Mompós Project, A Tale of Love and Hotels in Colombia, journalist Richard McColl discusses the issue of witchcraft in this corner of rural Colombia.

Having set up a successful business in the town of Mompós - a town that inspired much of the writing of Gabriel García Márquez - he incurred the wrath and envy of a handful of townspeople.

The book with be available in all the usual places from November 2024 but stay informed at

Richard McColl has worked as a journalist in Colombia since 2007 and is the host of the Colombia Calling podcast and the LatinNews Podcast.

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Direct download: RCC_481.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Hallo and welcome to another episode of Colombia Calling – I’m Emily Hart and this week I’ll be talking to the team at Power Leaves – who are unleashing the health and nutritional properties of the coca leaf by creating de-cocainised extracts and essences – and exporting them from Colombia across the globe - working with the country’s Nasa indigenous community.

Today on the show we have Ahmed Shehata, Co-Founder & President of Power Leaves and Carolina Mejia, VP of Regulatory Affairs for the company in Colombia – we’re going to be talking all things coca leaf – its properties and uses, how the company is navigating the regulatory frameworks to get coca extracts into markets across the world – and how Power Leaves are challenging the monopoly of the giant household name who import coca leaves to the USA and sell their drinks in more than 200 countries. I’m talking, of course about Coca Cola.

This week’s headlines reported by journalist Grace Brennan.

Direct download: RCC_480.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

It was remarkably good fortune that famed writer Sara Wheeler came through Mompós in Colombia when I was there overseeing our hotels. Over coffee and conversations we discussed Colombia, the politics and her travel writing.

And so, I was very honoured that she agreed to come on the Colombia Calling podcast to discuss future projects, past projects and much more.

Wheeler's latest book, Glowing Still: A Woman's Life on the Road, is her most personal to date, reflecting on her own experience and the changing world of travel.

"How are we supposed to live? The best writers all know that there aren't any answers, there are only questions."

Tune in here and wherever you get your podcasts for this and the Colombia News Brief reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Direct download: RCC_479.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

No strangers to the Colombia Calling podcast having featured here on more than a few occasions, this week we chat to Dave Proctor of La Leyenda MTB race and hear about their expansion into the Caribbean, Series races and the multi-stage race in Colombia.

It's a good news story from Colombia, highlighting what is possible, with an idea, an aim, a dream and then following through with the hard work.

Let's celebrate La Leyenda and what this mountain bike race has done and is doing to promote the best of Colombia.

La Leyenda Colombia

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

La Leyenda del Caribe

La Leyenda del Caribe is the Caribbeans's premier MTB stage race! Adventurous amateur cyclists from all over the world race side by side along the stunning, palm tree lined beaches, lush forests and river valleys in the Punta Cana region of the Dominican Republic.

The Colombia News Brief is reported by Emily Hart.

Please support us at

Direct download: RCC_478.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

For more than five decades, the people of Colombia have suffered the consequences of warfare between illegal armed groups. Landmines were laid throughout rural areas, devastating local towns and villages. Nearly 12,000 people have been killed or injured by mines or UXO since 1990—that’s a casualty rate second only to Afghanistan.

This week, we speak to Oliver Ford, programme manager for the HALO trust in Colombia about the new challenges to humanitarian demining in the evolving conflict in the region.

HALO has been clearing landmines in Colombia since 2013, making land safe across Antioquia, Boyacá, Casanare, Cauca, Meta, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Putumayo, Tolima and Valle del Cauca. We’ve removed landmines from coffee plantations, farms, veredas (villages) and indigenous reserves.

The Colombia News Brief is reported by Emily Hart.

Direct download: RCC_477.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Colombia is coffee, but Colombia is also cacao and on this week's Colombia Calling podcast, we talk to Paola Forero Acosta of Moxe, a start-up and specialist company aimed at providing only the best quality chocolate for discerning customers.

Paola Forero Acosta, along with her business partner, Juan Carlos Garavito, came up with the idea of Moxe in order to promote Colombia in a postive light and create a product that is both socially and environmentally sustainable.

And, Moxe was born:

What is Bean to Bar chocolate?

The term bean to bar chocolate started as a way for small chocolate makers to distinguish their chocolate from both chocolatiers, and also mass produced chocolate.

Bean to bar chocolate makers control where they source each ingredient, in this case from Caquetá, Huila and the Sierra Nevada, often making single origin chocolates to show off the complexity of each cacao.

The movement of bean to bar chocolate is important momentum because consumers can also taste this difference. While industrial chocolate tastes flat and lacks provenance, bean to bar chocolate contains a multitude of flavours and stories.

Buy the product, share the webpage and help ensure that Moxe is a success!

Direct download: RCC_476.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Drawing on nearly a decade of extensive ethnographic and participatory research, Angela Jill Lederach advances a theory of "slow peace," from investigations in Colombia's Montes de Maria region.

On this episode we discuss peace, peacebuilding and her new book and the concept of "slow peace."

"Feel the Grass Grow," traces the far less visible aspects of moving from war to peace: the decades of campesino struggle to defend life, land, and territory prior to the national accord, as well as campesino social leaders' engagement with the challenges of the state's post-accord reconstruction efforts. In the words of the campesino organizers, "peace is not signed, peace is built."

Tune in for this and the Colombia News Brief from journalist Emily Hart.

Please support us:

Direct download: RCC_475.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

The astonishing tale of four Huitoto children who survived a plane crash in which their mother and three other people died and their story of survival for 40 days in the impenetrable Colombian jungle has made the headlines the world over.

And rightly so, this reads like a film script.

Here, we tell this story on the Colombia Calling podcast, however, with a twist as we hear from a member of an indigenous community in Colombia to understand his read on events from a different perspective.

We listen to how indigenous communities consider the jungle and her spirits and how these kept the four Mucutuy children (aged 13, 9, 4 and 1) alive for forty days.

What is the importance of this humanitarian operation done in cooperation between the Colombian military and the indigenous community, the first of its kind, and what this means?

Our special guest, Ervin Liz of the Nasa community in Cauca also sells phenomenal coffee, please take a look:

And feel free to support us on Patreon:

Direct download: RCC_474.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

This episode, coming fast on the heels of a reflection-filled, "10 Year Anniversary" episode of the Colombia Calling podcast, is another profound look at life in Colombia for two long-term immigrants to the country.

In, "A love letter to Colombia," Brian Murphy O'Neill (La Leyenda Moutainbike race, The Colombia Project) and Richard McColl (Colombia Calling, the LatinNews podcast, Casa Amarilla Mompós) talk about all things Colombia-related and discuss the love and respect we both have for our adopted home country.

There is banter, there is honesty, but what it comes down to is that this is an ode to Colombia and her labyrinthine complexities.

And of course, the Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Direct download: RCC_473.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

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

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

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

Abrazos to everyone from Colombia!

Direct download: RCC_472.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

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

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

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

Check out:

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Direct download: RCC_471.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

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

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

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

Buy the book:

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

and support us:

Direct download: RCC_470.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

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

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

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

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

Please consider supporting us:

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

Direct download: RCC_469.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

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

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

Some of his important pointers:

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

Check out his business website:

and feel free to support us:

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Direct download: RCC_468.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

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

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

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

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Direct download: RCC_467.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

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

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

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

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

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Please check out and

Direct download: RCC_466.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

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

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

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

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

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Direct download: RCC_456.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

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

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

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Direct download: RCC_464.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

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

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

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

The Colombia News Brief is reported by journalist Emily Hart.

Please consider supporting the Colombia Calling podcast:

Direct download: RCC_463.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

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,

Please support us at

Direct download: RCC_462.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

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

Direct download: RCC_461.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

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
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

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

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

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

Direct download: RCC_459.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the website at:

Direct download: RCC_453.mp3
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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:

Direct download: RCC_452.mp3
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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

Direct download: RCC_451.mp3
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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.

Direct download: RCC_450.mp3
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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...

Direct download: RCC_449.mp3
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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.

Direct download: RCC_447.mp3
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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:

Direct download: RCC_444.mp3
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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

Direct download: RCC_443.mp3
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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.

Direct download: RCC_442.mp3
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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.

Direct download: RCC_441.mp3
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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.

Direct download: RCC_440.mp3
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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.

Direct download: RCC_439.mp3
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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.

Direct download: RCC_438.mp3
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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.

Direct download: RCC_435.mp3
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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.

Direct download: RCC_431.mp3
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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.

Direct download: RCC_430.mp3
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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.

Direct download: RCC_428.mp3
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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