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A coca field

Last October an American anti-drug pilot was fumigating Colombian coca fields when Marxist guerrillas opened fire at his crop duster. Two bullets hit his left leg but the pilot managed to land safely in a cow pasture. He was lucky. Three weeks earlier, rebel gunfire brought down another anti-drug crop-dusting plane, killing the American pilot on board. Read more»

Millions of people have been displaced by the drug war. Those attempting to reclaim their land are walking a dangerous path. Read more»

A taxi cab in Colombia

It’s called “the millionaire’s ride” and that’s no exaggeration. It works like this: With passengers in tow, unscrupulous taxi drivers suddenly stop to pick up accomplices who then force their victims, at gun or knife point, to pull out their debit and credit cards and withdraw millions of Colombian pesos from ATMs. Read more»

A coca farmer in Columbia with his crop.

The annual United Nations survey on coca plant production in the Andean region serves as a kind of drug war report card — yet it’s hard to tell whether Colombia is passing or failing. Read more»

Burundanga flowers, from which scopolamine can be extracted.

The drug scopolamine is also known as “the devil’s breath” or “burundanga.” The late salsa diva Celia Cruz sang about it. In a recent documentary, Vice called it “the world’s scariest drug.” Read more»

The 266th pope, and the first ever from Latin America, has one lung, rides the subway, reads Dostoevsky and has been described as both a moral compass and a sellout to Argentina’s former Dirty War leaders. Read more»

The crystal-coated skeletal remains of a human sacrifice in Aktun Tunichil Muknal, a cave in the Cayo district of Belize.

Mexico and Guatemala are expecting record tourism as Dec. 21, 2012, and the end of the world, approaches. Read more»

Banners in Mexico City show support for workers' rights.

Company unions in Mexico help employers to minimize costs and stand in the way of workers as they try to boost their wages and working conditions. Read more»

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

President Hugo Chavez has already announced his intention to run for a fourth term, despite his current battle with cancer. His government says it will build 350,000 free or low-cost homes, and offer cheap home loans ahead of the vote. Read more»

A Uitoto man in Colombia. Only about 50 people still speak Uitoto, out of the 600 members of the indigenous Uitoto tribe in the southern Colombian jungle. The rest communicate in Spanish which they view as more modern and useful.

With both Atlantic and Pacific coastlines and located close to Caribbean islands, Colombia has long been a crossroads for indigenous groups. In the 1500s, Spanish explorers reported that native peoples here spoke at least 300 distinct languages, many of which are now dying out. Read more»

Critics contend "The Star-Spangled Banner" is hard to sing, glorifies war and is set to the music of an English drinking song. But that’s nitpicking compared to the problems with Peru’s dirge-like national anthem which invokes slavery, humiliation and horror — all in the first stanza. Read more»

Under a thick layer of dust in a Bogota warehouse lie goods confiscated from drug traffickers that range from fine art to just plain crap, from elephant tusks to dented bicycles. Read more»

Dinosaur statues at Hacienda Napoles, 2007.

When he wasn't smuggling cocaine or ordering hit men to gun down his enemies, Pablo Escobar liked to relax at his 7,000-acre ranch, Hacienda Napoles, a personal playground and petting zoo. Now it's a tourist attraction. Read more»

A couple tango in Bogota, Columbia.

Dubbing movies is big business in Bogota. So are call centers. All because it's easy to understand Colombian Spanish. Read more» 1

With run-down schools and museums few and far between, rural Colombia can be a cultural wasteland. Beer and eight ball is about as high-brow as it gets. So what’s Andy Warhol doing out here? Read more»