Bolivia’s Socialist King: The Beginning of The End



Many Americans may consider Barack Obama a socialist, but to one dyed-in-the-wool socialist in the Americas, the U.S. president is nothing less than a ruthless capitalist, imperialist and war criminal. In fact, Obama’s alleged (and rather unsuccessful) “hidden agenda,” according to some – wealth redistribution, nationalization of industry, ihgher taxes and greater government control – reads like President Evo Morales’ list of accomplishments in Bolivia. Continue reading on OZY…

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An Israeli’s Escape From Colombian Justice



As he passed his bag through the metal detector, ready to climb aboard his flight out of Bogotá with a ticket to Lima in hand, Yair Klein looked over toward the flight gate and froze. Colombian authorities were checking passports. “Without a doubt they were looking for me,” he would later recount. Continue reading on OZY…

photo credit: Anna Vignet

How Cannabis Is Making a Comeback in Colombia



Back when Juan Pablo Guzman started his cannabis cultivation business nearly two decades ago, the Colombian says he had to get permission from the country’s FARC rebels, the military and the police to bring his crops down from a small, 2-hectare plot up in the subtropical forests in the department of Cauca. But Guzman doesn’t consider himself a drug trafficker. Over the past decade, the 48-year-old balding man, who’s full of charm and speaks with a springy cadence, has transitioned to making medicinal products out of marijuana to help people in pain. “This,” he says as he pulls out a vial and drips a black, viscous glob on his finger, “is my medicine.” Continue reading on OZY…

Colombia’s Bomba Estereo and the Decline of the Frontman


Vocalist Li Saumet was born in 1980 in Colombia’s Caribbean coast city of Santa Marta. If she had been born a few decades earlier, machismo and Vallenato, Colombia’s traditional folk music, might have eaten her alive. Colombia’s dude-with-a-microphone and his pal-with-an-accordion music rules the Caribbean coast. But Saumet’s band, Bomba Estéreo, swapped out the accordion for a synthesizer, and they became part of a twist in the plot of Latin America’s music scene. Continue reading on OZY…


Bonnie and Clyde, Bolivia-Style



Álvaro García Linera left his native Bolivia in the early 1980s to study mathematics at the National Autonomous University in Mexico City, where he met a young Mexican woman named Raquel Gutiérrez. They fell in love — with each other and Marxism — and through math and romance discovered they shared something else that would change their lives: a desire to join Bolivia’s indigenous revolutionary movement.

García Linera is now the right-hand man to Evo Morales — set to become Latin America’s longest-serving democratically elected president. After two decades of revolutionary struggle, jail and torture, García Linera may now have less idealistic views. But they’ve helped guide Bolivia’s transformation under Morales’ presidency. Continue reading on OZY…


Prog rocks Los Andes


What do you get when you mix Andean riffs, rock ’n’ roll and a coup d’état? Los Jaivas, a globe-trotting folk group that fled the bloody, political turmoil of Chile in the ’70s only to eventually come back and redefine the meaning of progressive rock. The group married traditional Andean folk with symphonic rock so seamlessly that world-famous poet Pablo Neruda even lent them some lines from one of his epic poems for a song. Continue reading on OZY…

Benvenuto, Vino Naturale

arianna occhipinti


It was 2003, and a young Italian student named Arianna Occhipinti was growing frustrated with the man.

The machine she was raging against wasn’t a big, bad corporation. Sitting in a classroom at the University of Milan, learning the ins and outs of acid titration and yeast, she grew hungry — shall we say thirsty? — to disrupt the winemaking world. Her objection: the Francophile conformity adopted by so many enologists. She’d witnessed many winemakers adopt a factory-style production process geared toward reproducing safe, boring wines instead of going interesting or natural. “I couldn’t help think that young winemakers were being shaped with only one mindset,” she reflects. Continue reading on OZY…