Capturing Rebellion: How a Photographer Became Part of a Plan to Topple Maduro

When Harold Castro received a call from his friend, Óscar Pérez, to say he was coming over, he grabbed his camera and climbed to the roof of his apartment building. Castro's reaction was not unusual. Pérez, a helicopter pilot in Venezuela’s Forensic Police Unit (CICPC), would sometimes swoop low over his photographer friend’s apartment in Caracas before heading out on operations. But on that day – June 27, 2017 – Pérez’s mission was of an entirely different nature. As he scanned the horizon, l

Watch: Headcam footage from a massive raid of Colombia’s biggest open-air drug market

For years “El Bronx”, a violent neighbourhood in Bogotá, was strictly off-limits to Colombia’s security forces. Despite its location—just six blocks from the presidential palace—it was infested with drug trafficking, gun running, prostitution, illegal gambling, and child exploitation. Named after the once-infamous New York borough, Bogotá’s version of the Bronx became a by-word for criminality and vice. Described by the Associated Press as “Colombia’s largest open-air drug market”, narcotics suc

Colombia’s peace process: Tunnel vision

“I know that many Colombians are scared, that many Colombians are angry, that many Colombians have lost confidence in the peace process”, admitted Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos on Sunday, in a televised address to the nation. “But today, finally, I can see light at the end of the tunnel.” The president, his face lined with fatigue, was announcing his response to the FARC’s surprise declaration last week that they will cease hostilities from July 20th. “If they suspend their offensive a

How Colombia plans to turn 32,000 ex-jungle-dwelling guerrillas into useful members of society

BOGOTÁ—Neftali Sanabría Cruz joined the FARC in 1998 out of desperation. “Where I’m from, the state just wasn’t around”, he remembers. “The government, the law, was the guerrilla.” Rising through the ranks, he eventually found himself in command of 70 guerrilla fighters in Usme, a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Bogotá. With Colombia’s armed forces in disarray, the FARC controlled the strategically important roads that led from the capital to the flat plains in the south.

Scientists have engineered the food that will help save a starving, warming planet

VALLE DE CAUCA, COLOMBIA—Hidden in a corner of the Colombian countryside lies one of Latin America’s best-kept secrets. At the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Valle de Cauca, over three hundred scientists from around the world are working to keep the world fed. The relaxed, university-like atmosphere belies the importance of the organization’s work. CIAT, which is part of a food-research consortium called Cgiar, has international responsibility (pdf) under the UN for safe

Why the Catholic Church is losing Latin America, and how it’s trying to get it back

The United Pentecostal Church in Bogotá is busy on Sundays. As the hall fills up, prams are parked neatly by the entrance. As more families drift in, the band strikes up a song with floor-filling disco beat. “The Lord is great”, sings the bass-playing pastor, as a bank of television screens relays the action on stage to the stragglers at the back. Together, the congregation lift their hands in the air while a boy, who looks no more than about 7 or 8, hammers out the rhythm on an oversized set of

The power of plastic: using pre-paid cards in disaster zones

When a powerful earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, Abasi Deroicier and her four children were left stranded. With her home and small business in ruins, she and her family relocated to the Tabbare Issa refugee camp run by the Red Cross in Port-au-Prince. Soon afterwards, she received an SMS message in Creole to her mobile phone. The message contained a transaction code, which she was able to redeem for $50 at her local remittance shop. The money enabled her to send her children to school an
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