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August 1, 2012 | By Chris Kraul and Jenny Carolina Gonzalez, Los Angeles Times
BOGOTA, Colombia - Like their U.S. counterparts, Colombian presidents customarily give accountings of their performances in addresses that resemble the State of the Union speech. But the speeches President Juan Manuel Santos has been giving in several cities to mark his two years in office are also an exercise in damage control, analysts say, to restore his plummeting popularity and counter sniping by his still-popular predecessor, ex-President Alvaro Uribe. A poll commissioned by Semana magazine showed Santos' approval rating has fallen to 47%, with 48% of those polled disapproving his performance.
July 27, 2012 | By Kevin Baxter
LONDON - Colombia is a decided underdog against the U.S. in its second-round group-play match in women's soccer Saturday in Glasgow, Scotland. But forward Orianica Velasquez believes the team has a Cinderella performance in it and, given the path she's taken to the Olympic Games, she knows a thing or two about Cinderella stories. Velasquez, who will begin her senior season at Indiana University in the fall, was identified as a real soccer player while playing Betty, a ficitional one, on Colombian TV. A high school classmate at Bogota's Colegio Americano, who was an actress, asked Velasquez to audition for a walk-on role in a soccer-themed teen soap opera called "Juego Limpio" (or "Fair Play")
July 6, 2012 | By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times
MEDELLIN, Colombia - The actor's comb-over, the mincing walk, the flat speech cadence and murderous, reptilian glare are all too reminiscent of one of the most powerful criminals who lived. The large number of Colombian eyeballs glued to a new prime-time telenovela about the life and times of Pablo Escobar, highlighted by actor Andrés Parra's bravura performance, shows that the late drug narco still fascinates more than 18 years after he died on a Medellin rooftop in a shoot-out with police.
May 2, 2012
Re "Colombian artist mixes light and dark," April 27 One of the reasons that peace negotiations in Colombia went forward was that the people were able to overcome their fear. And I honestly believe that for many Colombians, that came from watching artist Fernando Botero. He simply refused to be afraid. And being that way, he gave other people courage. Evan Dale Santos Adelanto, Calif. ALSO: Letters: Locking up kids Letters: CSU hunger strike Letters: Infrastructure in the U.S.
April 27, 2012 | By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times
BOGOTA, Colombia - Honored here on his 80th birthday last week with a congressional medal and dinner with the president, Colombia's most famous artist, Fernando Botero, says he'll keep working until he keels over with "a paintbrush in my hand. " But the politically attuned artist, whose themes have included mass murders, vicious drug capos and torture as well as his trademark "volumetric" nudes and whimsical reworkings of old masters, is skeptical that he will live to see the peace his countrymen so desperately want.
April 14, 2012 | By Christi Parsons and Matea Gold, Los Angeles Times
CARTAGENA, Colombia - President Obama sought Saturday to emphasize the robust economic relationship between the United States and Latin America, and he flatly ruled out legalizing drugs as a way to combat the illegal trafficking that has ravaged the region. Facing calls at a regional summit to consider decriminalization, Obama said he is open to a debate about drug policy, but he believes that legalization could lead to greater problems in countries hardest hit by drug-fueled violence.
April 3, 2012 | By Chris Kraul and Jenny Carolina Gonzalez, Los Angeles Times
BOGOTA, Colombia — Ending a long-running and inhuman nightmare for the victims and their families, Colombia's largest rebel group on Monday released its final 10 military hostages, some of whom had been in captivity in makeshift jungle prisons for more than 14 years. A military helicopter on loan from the Brazilian government and staffed with international Red Cross mediators to complete a prearranged release plucked the four soldiers and six police hostages from the hands of rebels at an unspecified location on the border of Meta and Guaviare provinces in eastern Colombia.
March 12, 2012
Ten years ago, peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia collapsed after the rebel group hijacked a plane and kidnapped a high-profile senator. Since then more than 20,000 rebels and paramilitary fighters have been killed in combat with military forces, according to the Washington Office on Latin America. Now, the FARC says it is ready to negotiate and has renounced its long-standing practice of kidnapping for profit. Its promise to end abductions and to release 10 soldiers and police officers held captive for more than a decade in jungle camps are significant and welcome developments - and something the FARC never agreed to in past peace talks.
December 21, 2011 | By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times
The creations of Colombian fashion designers Pepa Pombo, Silvia Tcherassi, Esteban Cortazar and others have lighted up fashion shows around the world in recent years and raised the country's profile in the world of haute couture. But the high-fashion clothes of Amelia Toro, a Bogota-based designer, are perhaps the most uniquely Colombian. She incorporates handicrafts made by indigenous communities, including the Wayuu, Kuna and Putumayo tribes, into dresses and coats that retail for $4,000 or more.
November 26, 2011 | By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times
Not long ago, Olga Lucia Salazar was breaking chicken necks and plucking feathers under scalding water for a living. Now, at double her former wage, the single mother of three raises gorgeous blue butterflies. "All I had to look forward to was miserable arthritis and permanently swollen hands," Salazar said as she arranged about 60 pistachio-sized chrysalises in a cotton-lined white cardboard box. "I can do this at home taking care of my kids. And I work for myself. There is no one screaming orders at me. " Over the last decade, butterfly exporter Alas de Colombia has given disadvantaged women here steady incomes and converted the iconography of this once war-torn valley from AK-47s and combat fatigues to fluttery symbols of peace and hope.
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