Colombia Calling - The English Voice in Colombia (general)

On the first episode of 2020, the Colombia Calling podcast speaks to hiker and guide Gabriel Torres who is based in the breathtaking colonial setting of Barichar, Santander. The reason for having Gabriel on the show is not only to promote Colombia's oft-voted most beautiful colonial town, but also to hear about his project to map large parts of the country's Camino Reales.

The Camino Reales are what the spanish called a network of connecting pathways crisscrossing the country. Originally, the "Royal Roads," were pathways which were constructed by the original indigenous tribes and spanned the whole country from the Caribbean coast inwards.

Most people have heard of or will have hiked the stretch from Barichara to Guane which is roughly 10km, but Gabriel informs us that there are possibly some 18,000km of paths to map out. So, with the desire to create Colombia's very own Santiago de Compostela route, Gabriel is moving ahead with his dream to connect paths which run through Santander, Boyaca and Cundinamarca to Bogotá.

Tune in for an interesting look at a potential tourism and travel asset for Colombia as told by a Colombian.

Direct download: RCC_306.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We discuss journalism, Colombia and the cocaine trade on this fascinating episode. And, most importantly, you can pre order Muse's book on Amazon. (https://www.amazon.com/Kilo-Deadliest-Cocaine-Cartels_from-Jungles/dp/0062905295/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1NFZEMX607MAC&keywords=kilo+toby+muse&qid=1575062606&sprefix=kilo+toby%2Caps%2C847&sr=8-1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Another battle, key to the chance of maintaining peace after more than 50 years of civil war, is being waged deep in the Colombian countryside, where former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas are struggling to build new lives after decades of conflict." (https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2019/10/24/Colombia-FARC-former-rebels-peace)

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

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

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

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

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

Tune in and enjoy and be sure to check out his website at: https://adamisacson.com/

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

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

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

Check out his writing here: www.stevengrattan.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.gofundme.com/f/helping-tribal-midwives-choco-colombia?utm_medium=email&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_email%2B5806-thank-you-ask-share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tune in for an upbeat good news story about Colombia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://metamorphosiscol.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tune in!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to the podcst and read this book!

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

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

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

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

Check out the website: www.fundacionbuenpunto.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In his book, Makers of Democracy A. Ricardo López-Pedreros traces the ways in which a thriving middle class was understood to be a foundational marker of democracy in Colombia during the second half of the twentieth century. Drawing on a wide array of sources ranging from training manuals and oral histories to school and business archives, López-Pedreros shows how the Colombian middle class created a model of democracy based on free market ideologies, private property rights, material inequality, and an emphasis on a masculine work culture. This model, which naturalized class and gender hierarchies, provided the groundwork for Colombia's later adoption of neoliberalism and inspired the emergence of alternate models of democracy and social hierarchies in the 1960s and 1970s which helped foment political radicalization. By highlighting the contested relationships between class, gender, economics, and politics, López-Pedreros theorizes democracy as a historically unstable practice that exacerbated multiple forms of domination, thereby prompting a rethinking of the formation of democracies throughout the Americas.

And in an interesting turn we talk about the possibilities of these policies from the past and how they have shaped the unrest and protests of 2018 in Colombia. Tune in!

Direct download: RCC_255.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

As a student of ethnonationalism and cultural identity originally from Arizona, Shenandoah Cornish has moved her life to Minca in Colombia's Sierra Nevada and is working to create a Centro de Memoria de la Sierra so that people from Minca can recognize and value their past. Offering guided tours of a museum she has set up with her boyfriend in the Casa Balaguera in Minca, Shenandoah and her team can provide you with a background to the indigenous importance of the region, the roles that the paramilitary groups and guerrillas have played and even has a tale about a Nazi settler to the region post WWII. 

Creating what is believed to be a "family photo album," for the people of Minca, Shenandoah has immersed herself in the local culture and stresses the importance of non geopolitical identities when discussing a country like Colombia. 

Tune in for a fascinating conversation from the highlands of Minca above the city of Santa Marta connected to us here in the capital of Colombia, Bogotá.

Direct download: RCC_254.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

As everyone is doing it, and so have we, and here on Episode 253 of the Colombia Calling podcast we sit down in Bogotá with Sergio Guzman, Director of the political risk consultancy, Colombia Risk Analysis (https://www.colombiariskanalysis.com/home-eng) to talk about President Ivan Duque's first 100 days in power. 

Colombia Risk Analysis is a political risk consultancy which seeks to provide its clients with analysis, context and projections about the political, economic and social environment that affects Colombia and the region. And so, we put Guzman to the test and hear his thoughts on President Duque. 

Spoiler Alert: President Duque has a challenging time ahead of him! 

Tune in to hear an account of politics, scandals, economics and of course intrigue.

Direct download: RCC_253.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

For Episode 252 of the Colombia Calling podcast we were honoured to be invited to the offices of the editorial Semana in Bogotá to talk to Paola Forero, the Director of Operations for the publication "Semana Rural." We discussed the challenges facing various regions of Colombia in terms of tourism and infrastructure and how Semana is teaming up to help non-traditional areas in getting on the tourism ladder. Not only is Semana Rural as a newspaper, reaching 13 of the towns which were hardest hit by the long-running conflict in Colombia, there is also a handy APP created to provide you with all the information needed to travel to these regions. So, tune in for an interesting episode about the potential future of tourism and reconciliation in Colombia and be sure to download the APP: ARRANCA!

Direct download: RCC_252.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

On Episode 251 of the Colombia Calling podcast we are able to chat to an academic from North America who has been exploring the dimensions of "demobilization" of guerrilla outfits such as the FARC and ELN in Colombia. On the condition of anonymity, we discuss some fascinating issues which are taking place in the reincorporation process of the FARC. We discuss the reality of the Zones of Transition where the FARC are living, how they see themselves, how they view the Colombian government, what their fears are and the stigmas surrounding them. There are also some topics we touch on which have not seen the light of day in neither the Colombian nor international press

Direct download: RCC_251.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

This week on our landmark Ep250 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we are on the line to Medellin with Australian journalist Andrew Wight. 

Specialising in Science-focused stories, Andrew tells us about some of the most interesting things taking place in the field in Colombia right now, regarding coffee protection, the health consequences of Venezuelan migrations into the Guajira, the X syndrome in Antioquia, instances of juvenile Alzheimers in Colombia and the opportunity to chart and report on formerly out of bounds areas known as Zonas Calientes or Zonas Rojas across the country due to the long running conflict. 

We also discuss the issue of Cassandra Sainsbury, the young australian drugs mule caught at Bogotá's El Dorado airport and how Andrew decided best to report on this story. 

Tune in for a fantastic and informed conversation as always on the Colombia Calling podcast

Direct download: RCC_250.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

It's time to talking birding and birdwatching in Colombia and the opportunities open to enthusiasts as told by expert Chris Bell. It's a real pleasure to have Chris back on the show and talking with such knowledge about Colombia (the only gringo here I know to have visited all of Colombia's departments) and the species of birds found here. 

Chris talks to us about his period under detainment by the dissident FARC on a birding trip in Caqueta, his recent Global Big Day in Tumaco 2018, the Global Big Day in Guaviare in 2017 and how the department of Antioquia (where Medellin is located) could rank as No7 for bird species in the world, were it a country! 

And, don't forget Nov 1-5 is the South American Bird Fair is in Manizales and then after that it's the Colombian birders get together in Mitu, Vaupes, so it's all happening in the birding world in Colombia!

Tune in to hear about the reality of travel in Colombia and this birding paradise through the eyes of the knowledgeable Chris Bell.

Direct download: RCC_249.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

The murders of his family in rural Colombia could have inspired a young Jesus Abad Colorado to pick up a gun; instead, he bought a camera and over the years became a highly acclaimed photographer, dedicating the next 25 years of his life to documenting the conflict in his native Colombia. 

A year after Colombia's then President, Juan Manuel Santos signed peace with the FARC guerrillas, Jesus goes in search of some of the people from his most iconic photographs, to explore just what it means to forgive the horrors of the past. While an unexpected meeting forces him to relive his nightmares, it also gives Jesus a message of real hope to communicate to Colombia's new generation. 

In this hard-hitting Episode 248, we are privileged to speak to the accomplished British documentary film-maker Kate Horne (other works include: Gabo, Turtle Boy, My Kidnapper. See www.kate-horne.com) on the line from London speaking about "Testigo; Cain y Abel" her most recent work. 

Funded by Caracol and screened across 12 Colombian cities (25, 26, 27, 28 October 2018) in Cinecolombia theatres, "Testigo" uses Jesus as the lens on Colombia's atrocities and conflict but is humanizing in its quest for reconciliation, forgiveness and hope for a more positive future. 

On a personal note, I had the opportunity to view this documentary at a special screening and feel that it should be mandatory for schools in Colombia and indeed for anyone in a country trying to emerge from a long-running confict. "Testigo" is not only powerful and informative, it's going to win awards, you heard it here first on the Colombia Calling podcast.

Direct download: RCC_248.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Back on Ep131 we were privileged to have actor and script writer of the movie Andrew Perez on the line from Los Angeles discussing his latest film, Bastards and Diablos...this time, on Ep247 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we have the honour of speaking to the other lead actor and producer of the movie, Dillon Porter. 

And he's here in Bogotá with the team, why?! Because, incredibly CineColombia has seen fit to give this indie flick, filmed in Colombia and released in the US in 2015, a weekend of viewings in Bogotá, Medellin and Cali starting on October 18. So, hurry on down and get your tickets and support a film which has won awards in the US, was made on a threadbare budget and is making waves. 

This is a film about two estranged half brothers and a journey of discovery through Colombia, the cinematography looks spectacular and the soundtrack is certainly awe inspiring. I will see you there on October 18 at the screening in Bogotá!

Direct download: RCC_247.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

How much do you know about the plantations and the medical cannabis industry in Colombia? If you're like me, very little at all, so it is with great pleasure that on Ep246 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we sit down with British journalist Mat Youkee, the brains behind the "Colombia Cannabis Investor,"(http://www.colcannin.com) and learn more about this unknown economic driver. 

With Youkee, we learn about the regulatory confusions surrounding this cash crop, the local growing conditions in Colombia for Cannabis and the issues of security and and community relations. 

Mat Youkee is a freelance journalist and analyst covering Latin America and the Caribbean from his base in Bogotá, Colombia. An emerging markets reporter since 2007 his regular work maintains a strong business and economics focus and he travels regularly across the continent to write in-depth analyses of sectors including extractive industries, finance, agriculture and healthcare.

So tune in!

Direct download: RCC_246.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

It is a great honour to have to the Assistant Professor from the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam, Abbey Steele on this week's episode 245 of Colombia Calling. Not only do we discuss some of the poignant issues raised and debated in her book: "Democracy and Displacement in Colombia's Civil War," but we also digress and discover Steele's experiences as a "helper" or "translator" in a Cali-based marriage agency. 

Talk about extremes! 

This is a fascinating conversation with an academic who possesses an intimate knowledge of Colombia, the political processes here and who has been able to show through extensive quantitative and qualitative research that the democratization of the political process in the country led, in fact, to an increase in violence and displacements. 

Tune in to hear more

Direct download: RCC_245.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

I came across this curious page called www.fairtradecoke.org on twitter recently and decided to follow it up and talk to the author for Ep244 of the Colombia Calling podcast. It was a great pleasure to talk to Dutch Anthropologist Janneke Nijmeijer in Amsterdam about her project and foundation. 

For those unaware, Coca grows at an altitude between 500 and 2000 metres, and the Andes mountains of Bolivia, Peru and Colombia offer the perfect climate for cultivating coca. Centuries before cocaine was being discovered, indigenous people across South America consumed coca. The cultivation and consumption has been of cultural and social value, and therefore an important of their economy. 

Besides the social and economic importance, coca was also used as a medicine. Coca is a mild stimulant that fights altitude sickness, enhances concentration and is very nutritious, among other things. Because of its medicinal and nutritional qualities indigenous people considered coca to be sacred: la hoja sagrada. 

So, tune in to hear more!

Direct download: RCC_244.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:19pm EST

This we sit back down with Chris Morfas (you'll remember him from Ep225, President Trump in Colombia) and speak with him about his expertise in alternative travel, sustainability and cycling and take all of this into account with his experience from Sacramento, California. 

Chris has been both volunteer and consultant to Colombia's leading NGO working on sustainable mobility, providing analysis and recommendations regarding its strategic planning, organizational structure, program implementation, project delivery, and political effectiveness. 

And, now Chris is a transplant to Bogotá, providing his knowledge to his new home town.

Direct download: RCC_243.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

After a brief holiday period away, I am happy to announce that the Colombia Calling podcast is refreshed and back on the airwaves and thrilled to have special guest Emma Louise Jay on the line from Las Palmas, Antioquia, talking about her unique Colombia experience. 

Imagine being bought a flight to a strange and far-off land by a stranger - no strings attached? Well, this happened to Emma back in 2011 and now, she calls Colombia home. Was she, as she suggests in her blog www.conqueredbycolombia.com born in the wrong country? So, hailing from the town which gave the world Radiohead, she now prefers a buñuelos to crumpets and is a researcher at a prestigious university in Medellin. 

Want to find out more about Emma and her adventures in Colombia, well you'll have to tune in to this engaging and philosophical episode No242.

Direct download: RCC_242.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:53am EST

Following on in the footsteps of Episode 221 where I regaled you all with the first chapter of my novel: "The Mompós Project," I have decided to share with you a further adapted extract from the book. This is entitled, "Sonia and the Gringo," and is the tale of a friendship in Mompós. This extract was also published in the New Orleans literary magazine, the South Writ Large (www.southwritlarge.com). 

I am still searching for an editor and of course a publisher, so please if you know of anyone, please let me know and then send this their way to see what they think.

Direct download: RCC_241.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Canadian expat Delaney Turner sat down over several cupos of coffee with Colombia Calling and discussed his love of Bogotá and the whole Colombia experience. In what is, quite a profound and verging on the philosophical coversation, Delaney and I delve into the issues of identity, belonging and Bogotá. 

We talk about his projects here in Bogotá, his love of photography and writing and how he turned his back on the marketing world to come on down to Bogotá and explore a new lifestyle and plunge himself into the language. 

This is an exciting and upbeat episode of Colombia Calling where we focus on the boom which Bogotá has experienced in recent years and how individuals like myself and Delaney are not only benefitting from it, but enjoying it. Check out his website www.becausebogota.com

Direct download: RCC_240.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:06pm EST

Colombian photographer Gabriel Eisenband performed a great public service when he decided to abandon his career in marketing to pursue his passion and dream of a life behind the lens. 

Now, Eisenband is a journeyman around his beloved Colombia and is the principal photographer for the new Colombia National Parks coffee table book available from July 2018. Having himself visited 41 of Colombia's national parks, he may be the person who has seen the most of this country and so we at Colombia Calling have the opportunity to sit down with him and talk about his latest project and the adventures he encountered along the way. 

Follow him and see some of his photos on instagram: @gaboeisenband
or, better yet, buy the book!

Direct download: RCC_239.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05pm EST

On Ep238 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we catch up with Jennie Levitt and get to see her new publication, "The Paris Picnic Club," a delightfully constructed cookbook put together with her business partner Shaheen Peerbhai, and illustrated with paintings by Levitt herself. The result is a collection of 100 mouthwatering and exciting recipes which stem from their student days in Paris and crosses continents to include elements from Peerbhai's native India and Levitt's adopted homeland of Colombia. 

The launch in Bogotá for the Paris Picnic Club is expected for September 2018 and we can expect to wash delicious platters down with cordials or juices from the book itself, or perhaps even, some sparkling fruit juices made by Levitt under the brand Corelia. Available in Bogotá and with flavours of Mandarine, Passion Fruit, Blackberry and Lulo and produced in Chapinero, Bogotá, Levitt's is truly a story of success in Colombia. 

Tune in for a fun and upbeat episode of Colombia Calling.

Direct download: RCC_238.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:58am EST

It's always a real pleasure to have the brains behind the Leyenda del Dorado (la-leyenda.com) mountain bike race on the show bringing with them an infectious enthusiasm for Colombia and what they are doing. So, on Ep237 of the Colombia Calling podcast we chat with race creator Brian Murphy and his sidekick Dave Procter based in the city of Cali to talk about this, the third edition of the only race of its kind in Colombia. 

With 250 participants coming from 21 nations for this multi-stage mountain bike race to take on the challenge of volcanic ascents, humid river valleys, colonial towns and coffee plantations in the department of Caldas, this is a UCI certified event which is not for the faint of heart. 

Hear about the news sections to the race, who is coming to participate, how the locals have embraced this event to their hearts and check out the daily updates and drone footage on La Leyenda's website.

Direct download: RCC_237.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:02pm EST

It's a pleasure to have Adriaan Alsema of Colombia Reports (www.colombiareports.com) back on the show, this time, on Ep236 of Colombia Calling he discusses with us his newfound cult status - he is currently being shadowed by a photographer from the Dutch edition of Esquire Magazine who is doing a feature on him. So, for once the guy who writes the news becomes the news. 

However, the real reason for Alsema's return to Colombia Calling is to talk about the terrifying state of affairs for journalists and social/ community leaders in Colombia. Official figures put the number of deaths of Community leaders across Colombia since Jan 1 2016 at over 300. The worst departments are Cauca and Antioquia, but it is happening all over. 

We discuss this genocide, the problems in reporting and which groups and potentially behind the killings and why. 

Please tune in to this important episode telling the story of a tragic situation in Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_236.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:40pm EST

There's an announcement to be made on Colombia Calling, no the "English Voice in Colombia," is not going away, but, we'll be branching out and there's a Spanish language podcast in the making (yes, I will stumble through in Spanish). There will be more about this in the podcast, so you have to tune in, but, just rest assured Jose Miguel Jaramillo (Ep219) of www.urbanlink.co and myself will be at he helm!

Direct download: RCC_235.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:58am EST

It's taken me 11 years to get to the Colombian department of Casanare and it shouldn't have taken this long. But, under the careful guidance of husband and wife team of Julia Buschmann and Andres Gonzalez Perez (www.aventurecotours.com), I took my wife and three year old son out for a "Colombian Safari" in the plains, savannahs and wetlands of Casanare. 

On our bespoke experience, we took in the perfect combination of a slice of the authentic Llanos cowboy lifestyle and saw droves of birds and other wildlife including deer, caimans and chiguiros (capybara). 

Colombia is a country of contrasts and with an embarrassment of riches to which to travel and only recently is this being understood. Casanare has charm, style and substance and oozes all of them and anyone wishing to experience adventure, birdwatching and authenticity should make time to come here. I must also emphasise that at no point did we feel unsafe at all, just embraced by the warmth of our hosts and the destination as a whole. Visit Casanare!

Direct download: RCC_234.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EST

Ivan Duque is the new president of Colombia and will run the country from 2018-2022, what does this mean for the peace agreement with the FARC, of which he has been openly critical and opposed to? 

Instead of striking dramatic blows against the accord, it’s more likely that Duque and his coalition will kill it through neglect. Casting the accord adrift, failing to take action and failing to spend money, will bring much the same end result as dramatically tearing it up.

However, Colombian president-elect Ivan Duque’s first challenge will be to unite the nation, something he has pledged to do whilst on the campaign trail, and recognize that eight million citizens voted for the left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro, the first time that a leftist candidate has achieved such a large following in Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_233.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:14pm EST

It's that time again! The football world cup is upon us and it's in Russia and Colombia take a strong team to face the likes of Poland, Senegal and Japan in Group H. So, it's a great pleasure to have South American football expert and journalist Simon Edwards on the line to Colombia Calling from Medellin talking about what to expect from the Colombia team, the likes of Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez. 

And not only do we discuss Colombia's chances...should they make it through Group H, they may end up facing either Belgium or England in the knock out rounds, how very exciting, but, we also welcome back Peru to the World Cup after an irresistibly long absence and Panama to the World Cup for the first time in their history. 

So, while my enthusiasm for the World Cup this year is somewhat muted due to the finals being held in Russia and indeed the FIFA-gate scandal, Simon Edwards starts to motivate my enthusiasm once again for the beautiful game.

Direct download: RCC_232.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:56pm EST

So, Colombia just had the first round of their presidential elections on May 27 and the right-wing Ivan Duque won by a significant margin but not by enough to take him straight to the presidency. In second place was the former M19 guerrilla and Mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro who will now face Duque on June 17 in the second round. 

On this Episode 231 of Colombia Calling, your host Richard McColl will provide you with a summary of what took place and how the voting happened in the first round and what to expect for the second round and the three weeks until then. Tune in to learn more about Colombia's fascinating political spectrum.

Direct download: RCC_231.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30pm EST

Colombia's Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range rises more than 18,000 feet from the Caribbean Sea — a height that makes them the tallest coastal mountains in the world. The national park that houses them is also the world's most irreplaceable protected area for the conservation of threatened species and is home to ancient communities and archeological wonders. So, it is with my great pleasure to invite Santiago Giraldo back on Colombia Calling after an absence of a few years. 

Giraldo is the Director for Latin America for the Global Heritage Fund and the Director of Prosierra, a Colombian environmental NGO. You'll remember we discussed the Lost City or the Ciudad Perdida and the 24,000 annual visitors to this sacred site, well, we catch up on what has been going on and explore some of the conservation projects underway in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

Direct download: RCC_230.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:37am EST

In the light of recent events such as FARC politician Ivan Marquez returning to his jungle hideout in Caqueta and Jesus Santrich under arrest for allegedly cocaine trafficking to the US, I discuss the topics in the news about Colombia this week and it doesn't make for comfortable reading. 

This is an episode put together to bring my international listeners up to speed with what is going on in Colombia, what international hawks are saying about the increasingly fragile-looking peace deal, President Santos' failure to act, the on-going crisis with the ELN, the FARC dissidents and indeed the issues surrounding Marin, Marquez and Santrich....all of this and we are less than 20 days from the presidential elections which appears to be head to head Ivan Duque vs Gustavo Petro.

Direct download: RCC_229.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:20pm EST

Long-time listener Adam Navarro-Lowery contacted Colombia Calling some weeks ago, full of enthusiasm for his upcoming first visit to Colombia...and yet, Adam is half Colombian and with extensive family links to Tolima and Santander. We sit down to discuss his family tree, look over sepia photographs from a yesteryear Colombia and trace his roots. 

In an open and frank discussion, Adam - a native of Dearborn, Michigan - tells us of his reason to join the US military (spoiler alert: the Medellin cartel is involved), his desire at age 39 to trace his roots and learn about his family, and his findings on a trip to Ambalema and Honda in the department of Tolima just beyond Bogotá along the river Magdalena.

Direct download: RCC_228.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

Everyone has an opinion on the war on drugs, and here in Colombia, many are far better placed to make educated decisions about its worth and reach. One of these such people is Carlos Villalon who has been photographing the Colombian conflict, its actors and the drugs trade since 2002. Having embedded himself with guerrillas, paramilitaries and more, Carlos has seen first-hand the effect of coca production for its use in cocaine on Colombia, the economy and on a global scale. 

We sit down with Carlos and scan some of the images he has chosen over the length of his career to illustrate his new book entitled: Coca, the lost war on drugs. 

The images are both powerful and thought-provoking and follow the passage of this sacred indigenous plant through its evolution in the comunas of Medellin, the Narco Corridas of Mexico and finally in the slums of the New York's Bronx. 

This book requires funding and could end up being a mandatory text in various classrooms. So, check out the Kickstarter campaign and throw some dollars at an incredibly important project which will show the world Colombia, this sacred plant and how we have damaged something ancestral and otherworldly. 

Link: https://kck.st/2HjoCOC

Direct download: RCC_227.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:41pm EST

This week we have an incredibly interesting conversation with Colombian academic Diana Maria Valencia about the upcoming presidential elections here. 

On the line with us from my alma mater, the University of Exeter (Devon, UK) where she is studying for a Mphil/PhD in History about food insecurity and agrarian counter reforms in Colombia, she gives us a background of her investigations and a very balanced look at the 2018 elections. 

If we boil down the causes of Colombia's conflict to their most base, then, land rights and reforms are privotal and so Diana Maria is perfectly placed to provide us with a better understanding of the issues in Colombia from her investigations, and then, apply this knowledge to a brief breakdown of what is taking place here before the first round of elections on May 27. 

So, who do we think will come through the first round, Duque, Petro, Vargas Lleras, de la Calle or Fajardo? How can we interpret the opinion polls? All of this and more on the Colombian election special on the Colombia Calling podcast.

Direct download: RCC_226.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

Sitting in the incredible and trendy downtown bar Revellion (Calle 16 #4-23) Colombia Calling sits down with two US expats in Bogota, Victoria Mulgannon and Chris Morfas, to talk about their thoughts on President Donald Trump's impending visit this April to Colombia after the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru. 

Bringing with them a wealth of well-informed opinions - Mulgannon has worked with USAID and the US Embassy and has now opened the hugely successful Revellion bar, and Morfas is a nonprofit leader and government relations professional from Sacramento - this is a fascinating and balanced reflection on the US Presidential visit to Colombia. 

There's time for some laughs, there's jazz in the background and there are some excellent insights and potential predictions for President Trump's visit. And, if all else fails, let's hit up Revellion bar and enjoy a wine tasting or some fine single malt!

Direct download: RCC_225.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EST

It's a great pleasure to have Juan Fernando Hincapie, one of Colombia's bright new things on the literary circuit. Already known for the books "Gringadas" and "Gramática pura" he has now published a new novela in English entitled "Mother Tongue."

Having read the book and laughed out loud in parts, it was great fun to discuss this Colombian tale which may touch a raw nerve here and there with his countrymen. But, you can relate, as you laugh at the descriptions, family dynamics and hardly unique class system so ever present in Bogotá. 

"Mother Tongue" is to be enjoyed on a rainy afternoon in Bogotá, when the rain only increases in its ferocity and drive and you are obliged to duck into a non-descript and filthy café in an unknown part of town. If you have done this, then you'll understand what "Mother Tongue" is all about.

Direct download: RCC_224.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:34pm EST

Danny Concha is a filmmaker and a storyteller and he's brought his unique brand of good news to Colombia, and we are the better for it as he has travelled this country far and wide to ensure that his stories go beyond the superficial and show us some of the real Colombia. 

In Episode 223 of Colombia Calling, we speak to Danny - on the line with us from the city of Medellin - and discuss how he came to here in Colombia, what he is doing with the "Yo Creo en Colombia" foundation and how he will be starting the: "Yo Creo en Peru" branch of this positive outreach program. 

For further information about Danny's documentaries and writing, please check out his website: dannyconcha.com and of course his youtube channel too.

Direct download: RCC_223.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:14pm EST

Only the other day, i read a statistic that claimed that four out of every ten Venezuelans still remaining in that country are trying to scrape together another money to leave. 

Those of us here seeing more and more Venezuelans arriving to Colombia every day, whether they are staying here or moving on to places further adrift such as Ecuador, Peru and Chile, believe we may be witness now to one of the greatest refugee crises outside of Syria.

So, this week on Episode 222, we have invited Venezuelan-born journalist Frank Cardona on the show to talk about the troubles being experienced by the diaspora as they try and seek a new life elsewhere beyond the chaos being wreaked by President Maduro and his followers. 

For an excellent take of how Frank is feeling, read his blog www.frankcardona.com

Direct download: RCC_222.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:53pm EST

Some of you will know that I have been penning a novel about my experiences in Mompós and throughout my "otherworldly experiences" whilst getting the Casa Amarilla (www.casaamarillamompos.com) hotel up and running, and as the search for an editor continues, I have decided to share chapter 1 of "The Mompós Project" out there with the world...have a read and let me know what you think. Here, I have decided to give you a reading.

Direct download: RCC_221.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:50pm EST

Given that the past week was the huge tourism fair here in Bogotá, Colombia, it seems timely to invite Alex Egerton, author of the new Lonely Planet guidebook to Colombia out later in 2018, here to Colombia Calling to chat about travel in our adopted country, new travel fashion here and of course, off the beaten path travel. 

So, we start with a conversation about the ANATO Vitrina Turistica and how it has changed over the 10 years I have been attending and how travel practices have altered too, including the perception of Colombia. 

And finally, we start to discuss how the country is opening up further to more intrepid travellers wishing to visit far-off jungle areas the Colombia great plains. Tune in to a great travel episode.

Direct download: RCC_220.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:53pm EST

It's always important to me to feature local people whenever possible on Colombia Calling and indeed especially those who are giving back to Colombia, so I was particulary happy when I was put in contact with Jose Miguel Jaramillo. Jose is a Bogotano and the brains behind a small, socially aware company called Clark and Rose (www.clarkandrose.co) which makes a variety of stylish leather bags. 

But, aside from these leather bags, perhaps the most important issue is that Jose is employing people from less privileged backgrounds to work in a responsible company. Some of his workers even include former guerrillas from both the ELN and FARC rebel groups. It's all about being socially inclusive, trust and humility. 

Tune in as we talk to Jose about his company, about his plan and also about his other project, Urban Link, where clients can rent store fronts or available "spaces" for short periods of time.

Direct download: RCC_219.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EST

This week we speak to Briton Jay Speller who moved to Minca, Colombia eight years ago and opened an eco hostel with a capacity of 10 guests. Today, in 2018, the Casa Loma (www.casalomaminca.com) can sleep up to 60 guests between private rooms, cabins, dorms and more and offers vegetarian meals, yoga courses, views to destroy your soul with their beauty and a place in which to disconnect from life as we know it. So, we talk to Jay about how he came to be in Minca and choose this place, how the business has increased and how Colombia has changed.

Direct download: RCC_218.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:58pm EST

It's a pleasure to have academic and University teacher Pete Watson back on the show (see Ep185 Football and Politics in Colombia) and talking about his findings from his time in Colombia in 2017. 

Pete discusses how football projects are building a sense of nationhood, society and identity in Colombia and how the yellow shirt of the Colombian national team is more than just a football kit. 

We talk about the politicization of football language in the speeches of current President Juan Manuel Santos and how the Colombian premier has used football to push ahead with his agenda. 

Tune in for a fascinating and in-depth conversation about the evolution of sport and politics in Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_217.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:03am EST

Sitting down and chatting with British journalist Matthew Charles is an education and an eye opening experience into the mind of a brave and selfless correspondent who will stop at nothing to get the story out there. Who better to speak to regarding Colombia's current state of malaise than Charles? Having recorded interviews with members of neo paramilitary groups (broadcast on Insight Crime) and then spent more than a week with the ELN guerrillas, Charles can provide us with an invaluable insight into off-limits Colombia and the work, life and times of a serious freelance foreign correspondent. Tune in!

Direct download: RCC_216.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:56am EST

This week on Colombia Calling we throw you are curve ball and bring on Charles Massey of Ottawa to talk about his experiences in Barranquilla as a volunteer English teacher, but not only do we focus on La Arenosa, but we delve into the world of Bollywood a little too. 

In a fresh and fun episode we are able to broadcast for the first time on Colombia Calling some bollywood songs and they certainly don't disappoint. Tune in and enjoy.

Direct download: RCC_215.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:42pm EST

Here we are, on Colombia Calling, starting 2018 fresh in mind and ready to take on the world...or at least Colombia in this election year which may be a make or break moment on various fronts for the country. 

After such a long hiatus away from Colombia and back in the UK, I have returned - several kilos heavier - and with the desire to take on even more challenges and best them. so, we discuss the elections, the potential presidential candidates, the problems with Colombia's taxes, some positives from 2017 and much more...oh yes, please check out my new walking tour guidebook to Bogotá entitled: "Bogotá through the Five Senses" available now as an ebook on Amazon.com

Direct download: RCC_214.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:30pm EST

It's a real pleasure to have Briton Hannah Matthews on the show once again and see how far she's come in Colombia. It seems like only a few weeks ago that we had her on the show talking about what it was like to teach English as a foreigner in Colombia. 

Now, she's in the Peace Brigades International and has spent a great deal of time in some of Colombia's most conflicted regions working to preserve human rights. 

As an international observer for PBI Colombia Hannah has had the opportunity to gain experience in the field of international human rights. She has worked in Bogotá, Barrancabermeja and Urabá, accompanying human rights defenders and communities who are being threatened because of their legitimate work in support of justice and peace.

Against a backdrop of political unease in Colombia and the presidential elections of 2018, this is an important and timely interview.

Direct download: RCC_213.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:38am EST

It's a brave man who sets out his stall to bring high school trips to Colombia, but, British travel writer Simon Willis has done just this with his outfit, Kagumu Adventures (www.kagumuadventures.com). 

Fresh off the trail from leading a bunch of eager students from an international school in Chile, who he took out to rural Antioquia and in to the infamous Comuna 13 in Medellin, Willis understands that tourism can be a create positive change in Colombia and indeed fulfill some of the Millennium Development Goals. 

Tune in to hear an inspirational tale of how a guy with an idea - albeit a brave one - can bring about change.

Direct download: RCC_212.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:58am EST

Sometimes it's hard to be an international transplant to a small community in Colombia, but briton Matty Sowinski Brown has successfully become an accepted resident in the charming town of Quimbaya in Colombia's coffee region. 

So, this week on Episode 211 of Colombia Calling we get on the line with Matty in Quimbaya (Quindio) to talk about his life there, the rural guesthouse he is opening up soon named "Cascada Blanca", and the delights of a traditional christmas - lanterns and all - in which he is participating this year in his new home town. 

Check out his website: www.cascadablancacolombia.com

Direct download: RCC_211.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51am EST

It's a great pleasure in this Episode 210 to welcome back members of the Bogotá Writers to Colombia Calling and sit down with Peter, Caroline and Juan Manuel and talk about their latest publication of short stories entitled: "Voices of Bogotá". 

In this new edition of works by the hard-working group, there are 16 stories all told by residents of the city. They tell of different times, people and places, but the dominant character uniting them is the city itself. Read about the tattoo parlours of Lourdes, the time keepers for bus routes and so much more.

Direct download: RCC_210.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:15am EST

Surely you didn't miss all the press coverage surrounding this story a few weeks ago after President Trump released some formerly classified CIA documents!? Yes, the story is real, whether or not it's true is something else, so, this week on Ep209 of Colombia Calling we sit down with fellow expat, blogger and interested soul, Stuart Oswald and discuss whether or not Adolf Hitler could have or did spend time in Colombia in the 1950s. 

What we know: The CIA investigated claims that a man who said he was Adolf Hitler was living in a community of ex-Nazis in the 1950s in Colombia. Declassified documents indicate that although agents did not take the claim seriously, they did receive a photo of the man who had a striking resemblance to the German dictator. A former SS soldier, Phillip Citroen, approached CIA agents in 1954 and said that a man claming to be Hitler was living in the town of Tunja. 

Tune in to hear about the documents and our thoughts on this matter.

Tags and Keywords: hitler, adolf hitler, did hitler escape to colombia, hitler in south america, hitler in colombia, hitler in bogota, hitler in tunja, ss in colombia, mengele, nazis in south america, nazis in colombia, stuart oswald, richard mccoll, colombia calling

Direct download: RCC_209.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:15am EST

Have you heard the tale of the poet who drinks three bottles of gin a day!? No, I hadn't and the mere thought of that much booze makes me uncomfortable. Hear about this anecdote and so many more with writer, author, teacher and journeyman Eduardo Bechara as he leaves Colombia to seek out and discover the new voices of South American poetry. 

Bechara's project "En Busca de Poetas" has been many years in the making but as it has developed so has it broadened its reach. We get on the line to Cordoba, Argentina with Bechara to talk about his life as a writer and the most recent spin-off project of a new collection of poetry from the southern cone entitled: "Breve Tratado del Viento Sur". 

Bechara's quest is to unify the South American continent in a literary sense and if you believe in what he is doing, then throw a few dollars at his crowdfunding page on Indiegogo (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/publicacion-breve-tratado-del-viento-sur/x/642296#/). 

So, tune in to hear about Bechara's life, an interesting tale which has taken his from being a Bogotano lawyer to researching being penniless on the steets and now promoting poets across the whole continent.

Tags and Keywords: Eduardo Bechara writer, en busca de poetas, indegogo, crowdfunding, breve tratado del viento sur, beggar for a day, mendigo por un dia, colombia calling, podcast richard mccoll, escarabajo publishing

Direct download: RCC_208.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:36am EST

From the coffee cultivations in the highlands of the Tolima region, this week on Colombia Calling, we speak to US writer and photographer Michael Evans who has made his home in the small town of Líbano. And so, this week's episode is an exploration of life in a Colombian small town in the heartlands of the coffee region. 

For an idea of the imagery and the ambiance of Líbano, Michael's home and his muse, check out this excerpt from his new book of photography, "My Colombia, the First Seven Years."

"Líbano sits in the middle of the Tolima Department’s coffee region. The Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia has an office and warehouse here, where farmers deposit their harvests and collect their pay. You probably know of Juan Valdez and his trusty mule, Conchita. Juan isn’t just a fictional character in coffee commercials; he’s the trademarked mascot of the federation — invented in 1969 — and through the magic of casting, he always remains young and fit. And although Juan always looks a little too clean and well-groomed for doing manual labor, his outfit is spot on, because Colombian coffee farmers still wear straw hats and ponchos, still strap machetes to their belts, and some still bring their harvests to market on the backs of mules."

Known to some as Memphis Mike, tune in to hear all about the curiosities and beauty of small town Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_207.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:06pm EST