Colombia

Latin America
8:49 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

News Of A Kidnapping: Will Colombian Peace Talks Survive?

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos talking with WLRN's Tim Padgett in New York in September about peace talks with the FARC.
Credit Presidencia de Colombia

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos recently told WLRN that his government’s peace talks with Marxist guerrillas were “at their most difficult moment.” After a kidnapping last weekend, we now know what Santos was talking about.

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Latin America
4:24 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Gangs Can't Stop Colombia's Butterflies From Rescuing Women In Need

Three Butterflies flew to Geneva to accept a humanitarian award: Maritza Asprilla Cruz (from left), Gloria Amparo, Mery Medina.
Juan Arredondo Courtesy of UNHCR

Originally published on Fri October 10, 2014 4:09 pm

They call themselves "the Butterflies."

And that's not just wishful thinking.

When Gloria Amparo, Maritza Asprilla Cruz and Mery Medina sweep into NPR's bureau in central London, they are indeed as beautiful as butterflies: bright clothing, big beaming smiles. They look around in wonder at the newsroom spread out before them, laughing and joking as I make them a cup of tea.

Yet these are women who've led tough lives — born into Colombian society, where violence and abuse are commonplace.

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Latin America Report: Exclusive Interview
5:38 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Colombian President Fights The "Black Propaganda" Against Peace

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos talking to WLRN's Tim Padgett in New York last week.
Credit Presidencia de Colombia

“The problem with Colombia is that we’ve been fighting a war for three generations and we simply got accustomed to it. What I’m trying to tell the Colombian people is, ‘Wake up. We have to be a normal country.’”

That was the opening volley from Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos during a wide-ranging and unusually frank interview last week in New York. But there’s one slice of our conversation you won’t hear on WLRN.

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Commentary
12:46 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Bring Peace To Colombia Or Block Venezuela From A U.N. Seat? Pick One

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos speaking to WLRN's Tim Padgett at the U.N. General Assembly this week in New York.
Credit Pilar Calderon / Presidencia de Colombia

Today’s international affairs quiz: Would you rather see Venezuela denied a temporary seat on the U.N. Security Council, or would you prefer to see an end to Colombia’s eternal civil war?

Pick one. Can’t have both.

That’s at least what Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos told me this week during our interview in New York, where he and a host of other heads of state are gathered for the U.N. General Assembly.

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Latin America Report
5:25 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Can Juan Valdez – And Colombia's Mighty Coffee Corps – Challenge Starbucks?

Customers sipping samples this summer at the opening of Miami's first Juan Valdez coffee cafe.
Credit Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Juan Valdez and his burro aren’t just symbols of Colombia’s world-famous coffee.

They’re the faces of what is arguably the most effective and democratic institution in Colombia: the National Coffee Growers Federation. The federation – which owns the Juan Valdez brand – offers a glimpse of what the war-torn South American country might be more like if it ever achieves peace.

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Colombia
1:49 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

President Santos Is Colombia's Comeback Kid, Wins Re-Election

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the University of Miami last December.
Credit C.M. Guerrero / El Nuevo Herald

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is back from the brink. Polls had indicated he could lose his re-election bid in Sunday’s presidential run-off vote. But he won another four years in office – and that also breathes new life into Colombia's peace process.

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Latin America
4:30 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Colombia Election: Is President Santos On The Run-Off Ropes?

Challenger Zuluaga speaks in Bucaramanga, Colombia, in 2011.
Credit Wikimedia Commons / Archivo de Marco Antonio Melo

  It’s on to Round Two in Colombia. Challenger Oscar Iván Zuluaga, a right-wing former Finance Minister, pulled an upset over the incumbent, President Juan Manuel Santos, in Sunday’s presidential election. But Zuluaga didn't get a majority ­­­– far from it at 29 percent to Santos' 26 percent – so they'll go to a run-off on June 15. 

Colombia’s peace process hangs in the balance – but Santos has to counter growing skepticism about his ongoing peace talks with the country's Marxist guerrillas, the FARC. Zuluaga has pledged to halt those negotiations.

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Latin America Report
3:39 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Could Trying To Forge Peace With Guerrillas Cost Colombia's President An Election?

Colombian presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga (right) on video that allegedly shows him receiving hacked intelligence
Credit Semana

Any presidential election in Colombia these days is a matter of high stakes.

That’s because the country – now South America’s second-largest economy and the United States’ most important ally on that continent – is in the midst of peace talks with Marxist guerrillas known as the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces, or FARC, to end a half-century-long civil war.

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Latin America Report
7:36 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Colombia's Peace Crisis: Pres. Santos Confronts The Skeptics – And The Spies

Credit El Nuevo Herald

This week’s Colombian voter poll had to feel like a back-handed compliment for President Juan Manuel Santos.

The new survey by the Bogotá research firm Ipsos-Napoleón Franco shows Santos with a 17-point lead over his closest competitor in his bid to win re-election in May. But Santos garners just 25 percent of the vote. Half of those polled said they were undecided or intend to cast a blank protest ballot. That’s hardly cause for cumbia dancing at the Casa de Nariño presidential palace.

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Americas
3:34 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

With Miami's Help, Colombia Trades Battle Lines For Zip Lines

Cartagena, Colombia, at sunset
Credit Flickr

When I interviewed Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos last year in Bogotá, he crowed about foreign investment pouring into his country. A nation considered a failed, civil war-torn narco-state less than a decade ago was now one of South America’s hottest money magnets, doubling its take from the previous year.

“This is completely out of anyone’s imagination,” Santos said.

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Americas
12:11 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

In Colombia, Starbucks To Take On Juan Valdez

Drew Angerer AP

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 1:07 pm

Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks has announced it's going to expand to Colombia.

The country is known for its Arabica beans and for the mythical coffee farmer Juan Valdez. He's helped sell Colombia's coffee for 50 years. Starbucks has cafes in 50 countries. And now, it's coming to perhaps the country most associated with coffee.

Howard Schultz, the company's chief executive, announced that the first shop will open in Bogota in 2014, followed by 50 more cafes and in other cities over five years.

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Americas
9:20 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Once Home To A Dreaded Drug Lord, Medellin Remakes Itself

Colombian army soldiers patrol Medellin's Loma de Cristobal neighborhood after warring gangs forced dozens of families to flee. Medellin used to be the most dangerous city in the world, but officials embarked on innovative projects designed to make life better in tough neighborhoods.
Paul Smith for NPR

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 5:03 pm

Of all the violent cities of Latin America, one stands out as a great success story: Medellin, a metropolis nestled in the mountains of northwest Colombia.

Once the home of the cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar, it recorded more than 6,300 homicides in 1991, making it the world's murder capital. Then, one city government after another built schools and libraries, parks and infrastructure. The police also received an overhaul and became more adept at going after violent trafficking groups.

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Americas
12:10 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

In Colombia, A Town Badly Scarred By Wartime Rape

Isabel Narvaez, in El Placer, says she is still traumatized by the rape she suffered. The small hamlet in Colombia is just one place where women were victims of violent crimes during the civil conflict.
Paul Smith for NPR

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 5:08 pm

El Placer is a remote hamlet deep in southern Colombia, on the edge of the Amazon. Founded half a century ago by farmers who found it fertile and bucolic, its name means "The Pleasure."

But for women and girls in El Placer who suffered years of sexual assaults after an illegal armed group stormed in, the name is only associated with unspeakable violence and murder.

Brigitte Carreño, 25, is among the women who suffered. A feared local warlord in El Placer raped her when she was 12, leaving her with searing memories that remain vivid and painful to this day.

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