Colombian Politico: The Road to Peace is Paved with Legal Cocaine

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Knowing that he would be killed one day, Colombian presidential candidate Jaime Pardo Leal took out a handful of life insurance policies, opened a bank account in his wife’s name and deposited enough money to cover his family’s groceries for a year. Continue reading on OZY…

credit: Alvaro Tapia Hidalgo

She’s the Governor with the Hardest Job in Latin America

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She wears a rose gold Apple watch on her left wrist, while her black Madeline shoes and horn-rimmed glasses have a nerdy-schoolgirl vibe. But then there are the indigenous beads and feather earrings, signifying the Andean respect for pachamama — Mother Earth. This is the 39-year-old governor who is supposed to transform one of Colombia’s most war-torn regions — lands rich in cocaine’s base ingredient, the coca plant? Who is supposed to make Colombia’s promise of peace a reality? Continue reading on OZY…

Bolivia’s Socialist King: The Beginning of The End

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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…

photo credit: elciudadanoweb.com

An Israeli’s Escape From Colombian Justice

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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

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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

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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…

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