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April 12, 2013 | By Chris Kraul and Mery Mogollon, Los Angeles Times
CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan interim President Nicolas Maduro has accused his political rivals of bringing Colombian paramilitaries into the country to commit assassinations, an assertion typical of the brief but intense campaign leading to Sunday's presidential election. Maduro, in a speech broadcast Thursday night on state-run television, said suspected paramilitaries had been detained in a series of raids. On Friday, Vice President Jorge Arreaza said authorities, taking steps to prevent attempts to destabilize the country, had arrested two Colombians dressed in Venezuelan military outfits and seized equipment used with high-caliber military rifles.
April 10, 2013 | By Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times
Like a secular shrine, the dining-room wall of Juan Diego Borda's West L.A. bungalow is decorated with dozens of classic record-album covers. "Abbey Road. " "Sticky Fingers. " "Dirty Dancing Machine. " "Lords of Acid vs. Detroit. " For Borda and Andres "Popa" Erazo, the personable and articulate two-man electronica collective known as Palenke Soultribe, the wall is both inspirational and aspirational. It's a visual nudge, as well as a testament, to their ambitions as DJ-producer-musicians focused on importing cumbia and other Afro-Caribbean rhythms into the hissing global stew that is electronic dance music.
April 6, 2013 | By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times
CALI, Colombia - To say Luis Abel Delgado of Cali occupies a special niche in the global rag trade is an understatement: He's made vestments for two Roman Catholic popes, as well as inaugural sashes for several Latin American presidents. His sartorial skills have taken him from extreme poverty in southwest Colombia to the Vatican and several presidential palaces as an honored guest. He says that he's on a first-name basis with newly elected Pope Francis, who calls him Abelito, and that he spoke monthly with Pope Benedict XVI. "The new pope is as humble as they say. He insists I call him Don Francisco," Delgado said at his modest apartment in a southern suburb of Cali.
December 13, 2012 | By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times
YARUMAL, Colombia - The unusually high incidence of early-onset Alzheimer's disease in this isolated cattle town has thrust it to the forefront of global efforts to find a cure for the debilitating malady. Next spring, 100 residents of this region in northwestern Colombia who are known to carry a mutant gene linked to the disease will begin taking a therapeutic drug produced by the U.S. biotechnology firm Genentech. The five-year clinical trial, called the Alzheimer's Prevention Initiative, will cost $100 million.
November 20, 2012 | By Sandra Hernandez
War-weary Colombians got some good news Monday when that country's largest rebel group, known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, announced a two-month unilateral cease fire on its website. (Yes, the group has a website.) The FARC's decision comes as peace talks between the Marxist rebel group and Colombia's government got underway in Cuba this week. But not everyone is optimistic about the negotiations. Some analysts suggest the rebels' decision to enter into negotiations is really intended to buy the FARC time to regroup, just as it did a decade ago when then-President Andres Pastrana ceded a swath of territory during negotiations.
September 19, 2012 | By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times
BOGOTA, Colombia - Venezuelan police on Tuesday captured Colombia's most wanted fugitive, the notorious Daniel "El Loco" Barrera, who is suspected of smuggling 100 tons of cocaine in recent years to U.S. and European markets. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos went on national television Tuesday night to announce the capture of Barrera in the western Venezuelan city of San Cristobal. Colombian authorities had posted a $2.5-million reward for information leading to his arrest.
September 4, 2012 | By Sandra Hernandez
Colombia's president, Juan Manuel Santos, announced Tuesday that his government has agreed to a road map to launch peace talks with the country's largest and oldest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Santos said the talks will begin in October in Norway, and continue outside of Colombia. The negotiations mark the first time since 2002 that the government and the FARC will sit down to discuss a possible end to the brutal, nearly 50-year-old civil conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.
September 4, 2012 | By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times
BOGOTA, Colombia - Prospects for an end to more than four decades of armed rebellion in Colombia inched closer to reality Tuesday as President Juan Manuel Santos announced that his government had agreed to start peace talks with the country's largest insurgent group. The first open negotiations in a decade between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, will start early next month in Oslo and then shift to Cuba, and will span "months, not years," Santos said.
August 28, 2012 | By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times
BOGOTA, Colombia — President Juan Manuel Santos on Monday night said his government was in "exploratory discussions" to end more than four decades of conflict with Colombia's largest rebel group. In a short televised address, Santos said the government had engaged in discussion with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, but he did not disclose details such as where the talks were held. Meetings have been held in Cuba, according to news reports and speculation.
August 2, 2012
Colombia 's cocaine production fell by nearly 25% in 2011 from the previous year, and was down by more than 70% since 2001, according to the White House. A report released this week by the Office of National Drug Control Policy suggests that the Andean country once known as the largest producer of cocaine has scored a remarkable victory. That's great news, if indeed the latest estimates are accurate. But the report is at odds with a United Nations survey released last week that concluded that Colombia's cocaine production remains virtually unchanged, dropping by a mere 1% since 2010.
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