August 30, 2013 |
Patricia Engel sets her first novel in late '90s Paris, where recent college graduate Lita del Cielo arrives to take language classes for a year. It's a respite of sorts as she attempts to forestall the expectations of her Colombian immigrant parents, who arrived in the U.S. with nothing and built a Latin food empire in short order. Twenty-year-old Lita is to live in the House of Stars, a crumbling old mansion on the Left Bank. Her landlord, an elderly onetime countess named Séraphine, props herself up on a huge sleigh bed to receive visitors and dispense advice to the "well-bred debutante boarders" who have come to Paris to "study" but seem to spend most of their time in pursuit of love.
August 9, 2013 |
BOGOTA, Colombia - With the public's patience wearing thin, pressure is mounting on the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group to make substantive progress in peace talks that have bogged down over how to fashion a political role for the insurgents. On Saturday, the two sides will complete their 12th bargaining session in Havana since the negotiations began in October. Only the first of six bargaining issues on the agenda - an agrarian reform initiative - has been settled, and observers see little chance of a breakthrough on the second: the mechanics of the rebels making the transition from warfare to post-conflict democracy.
July 26, 2013 |
Long before Mexico descended into its "drug war," the phrase itself was invented in another country. In the 1980s the underground industry that processed coca into cocaine and shipped it northward to U.S. consumers transformed Colombian society. It created powerful drug barons who became public villains and icons, and it saw a country and its public institutions nearly consumed by a culture of violence. Juan Gabriel Vásquez's deeply affecting and closely observed new novel takes up the psychic aftermath of that era, as residents of Colombia's capital, Bogota, struggle to make sense of the disorder and dysfunction that's enveloped their daily lives.
June 23, 2013 |
Cali, COLOMBIA - It's a long way to go for dance lessons, but that's why French law student Graziella Giacomarra has traveled 6,000 miles to Cali, to learn some of salsa's most intricate and high-energy steps. This month at the Sondeluz dance studio on the second floor of a drab commercial building, Giacomarra was hot-stepping to a blistering, brass-driven salsa beat, her feet blurring in close unison with those of her teacher, Luz Ayde Moncayo. It was the eighth week of classes for the 24-year-old Lyon native who hopes to someday be an agent for professional dancers.
May 29, 2013 |
BOGOTA, Colombia - Venezuela recalled its ambassador and ended its participation in peace talks Wednesday after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos met with the losing opposition candidate in Venezuela's recent presidential election. Santos received losing candidate Henrique Capriles at the presidential palace in Bogota. Capriles has charged that the Venezuelan presidency was stolen from him in the April 14 election by the apparent winner, Nicolas Maduro, the late President Hugo Chavez's handpicked successor.
May 26, 2013 |
BOGOTA, Colombia - In a milestone first step in efforts to end Latin America's longest-running insurgency, Colombia's largest rebel group and the government said Sunday that they had reached an agreement on land reform, the first of six points that could make up an eventual peace deal. The agreement on agrarian reform, considered a crucial element of any broader accord, is a boost for President Juan Manuel Santos, who last summer took the risky political move of restarting peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.