Colombia

Martin Chahin / DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

The U.S. is working with Colombia, Brazil and other regional partners on how to assist Venezuela if the embargo-like sanctions announced by the White House this week ultimately force President Nicolás Maduro to step down, the head of the U.S. Southern Command said.

Navy Adm. Craig Faller, the Miami-based head of U.S. forces in South America, said the nations are working on “planning and discussing what we could do, and will do for the ‘day after Maduro,’ when there’s a legitimate government, when we can go in and really assist the people of Venezuela.”

Fernando Vergara / AP

COMMENTARY

On Local 10’s “This Week in South Florida” last Sunday – a day after the anti-immigrant/anti-Hispanic massacre in El Paso, Texas – I used the term “white Christianist terrorism” to describe the wave of white supremacist violence plaguing the U.S.

Michel Euler / AP

In Paris last week, Egan Bernal became the first Colombian – and the first Latin American – to ever win the Super Bowl of cycling: the Tour de France. At one point during his victory ceremony near the city’s Arc de Triomphe, an NBC sports commentator mused that “the Colombians have taken over” – and he may not have been far off.

Jesús Parra spent four years as a police officer in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. He patrolled the streets, provided security at events and even guarded political prisoners. Now, he parks cars at a funeral home for spare change in the Colombian city of Cúcuta.

This is not what Parra, 27, had in mind when he deserted the police force and sneaked across the Colombian border in March.

Crowds of Venezuelans lined up at two international bridges leading to Colombia on Saturday, as the border between the countries opened for the first time in four months.

Thousands of people crossed over, seeking food, medicine and basic supplies. For months, Venezuelans have been dealing with power outages, hyperinflation and increased violence due to the deepening political and economic crises in the country.

In the northeast corner of Colombia, a few miles from the Venezuelan border, rows of khaki-colored tents rise from the desert sand. Filled with Venezuelans escaping economic disaster back home, the tents make up Colombia's first refugee camp near the border.

The tunnel leading to Colombia's most famous church feels more like a byway into the bowels of the earth. It's dark and dank, with a faint smell of sulfur in the air. But after a few hundred yards, the shaft gradually widens to reveal Roman Catholic icons, like the Stations of the Cross and Archangel Gabriel.

And they're all carved out of salt.

Authorities at the Port of New York and New Jersey seized approximately 3,200 pounds of cocaine from a shipping container on Feb. 28.

Officials carried out an inspection of the shipment after they noticed tampering of several containers on a large vessel traveling from Buenaventura, Colombia, Drug Enforcement Administration special agent in charge Ray Donovan told NPR. That is when they discovered the nearly ton and a half of cocaine with an estimated street value of $77 million.

Teresa Frontado / WLRN News

Two weeks after violent clashes on the border between Venezuela and Colombia left more than 400 people wounded, the U.S. government and its Colombian counterpart made a public gesture Thursday to indicate ongoing support for efforts led by Venezuela's interim president Juan Guaidó to bring humanitarian aid into the troubled South American country. The timeline for the aid delivery is still not clear.

Fernando Llano / AP via Miami Herald

Top military commanders for the US and Colombia held a joint meeting in Miami on Wednesday to discuss regional cooperation. At the top of the agenda was the escalating humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, which is slated to ramp up this weekend.

In a hypnotic opening dance between two would-be lovers, the new film Birds of Passage immediately establishes that it is in no way a typical Colombian drug-war epic.

Fernando Llano / AP

Tensions continued mounting in Venezuela. The issue even came up at President Trump’s State of the Union speech.

“We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime,” he said on Tuesday.

 

AP via Miami Herald

This month a guerrilla car bomb killed 21 people at a police academy in Bogotá, Colombia. It evoked horror – and also confusion, because a lot of people assume Colombia recently ended its long civil war. Colombia did sign a peace deal with one guerrilla group, the FARC. But the other – the ELN, or National Liberation Army – is still active, and it's claimed responsibility for the January 17 bombing.

Associated Press

An SUV carrying more than 150 pounds of explosives detonated at a police academy in Colombia’s capital on Thursday, killing at least nine and leaving more than 50 people injured, according to authorities.

The explosion took place around 9:30 a.m. at the General Santander police academy in southern Bogotá.

“This was an attack on an academic institution where there were unarmed youth,” President Iván Duque said after touring the site. “This demented act of terrorism will not go unpunished.”

Ariana Cubillos / AP via Miami Herald

On Thursday Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro will be sworn in after his unconstitutional re-election. Much of the world considers his socialist regime a dictatorship – and a disastrous one: Venezuela is suffering the worst economic collapse in the world right now.

But is it also a dangerous one? Lately the U.S. and much of Latin America are calling Venezuela an erratic security threat. It's escalating tensions with its neighbors – and last month welcomed Russian bomber planes into the country.

To understand what's going on with Venezuela, WLRN’s Tim Padgett spoke with Bruce Bagley, a University of Miami international studies professor and an expert on South American security issues.

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