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Is South America in an arms race?

BOGOTA, Colombia — Concerns over a possible arms race on the South American continent have turned the spotlight on who’s buying what and why. Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia in particular appear determined to prove they won't be pushed around by their neighbors and are vigorously defending their military buildup. There is no question that South America is on arms spree, with major purchases by Venezuela and Brazil stoking fears over the possible consequences of flaring regional tensions on an increasingly militarized continent.

FARC rebels make off with ... dimes

BOGOTA, Colombia — Things haven’t been going so well for Colombia’s largest guerrilla group. An army offensive and a wave of desertions have reduced the size of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, from 17,000 fighters to about 10,000. The FARC still pulls off deadly raids but more often than not, things go awry.

Essay: How to deal with kidnappings

BOGOTA, Colombia — The debate over how to cover kidnappings has intensified as more reporters are abducted in hot zones and editors receive frantic pleas from their colleagues to black out the news.

Putting a community, and its land, underwater

NEIVA, Colombia — As the muddy waters of the Magdalena River meander south of the sweltering city of Neiva, its banks give way to some of the most fertile land in the country. Crops of cocoa, coffee, maize, plantains, yucca and tobacco creep up hillsides. If the peasants have their way, they will continue to cultivate their land, tend to their cattle and live in their tightly knit communities as have generations before them.

Hugo Chavez — public relations master

If recent events are anything to go by, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is a master in PR.  

Anti-Chavez and anti-Uribe protesters face off

BOGOTA — Alejandro Gutierrez decided he'd had enough of what he describes as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's meddling in his country. So 11 days ago the 28-year-old started a Facebook group calling for an international march against the controversial leader. The following day, the group had 22,000 members, a number that has mushroomed to more than 377,000.

A Colombian's quest

GRANADA, Colombia — With chains on his wrists and an eight-foot-long wooden cross bearing down on his left shoulder, Gustavo Moncayo stopped on the side of the road to catch his breath and massage his aching muscles. But the 57-year-old high school teacher insisted his burden was light compared to the suffering his soldier-son has been subjected to for nearly 12 years as a hostage of Marxist guerrillas.

Bribery accusations in case against Chevron

BOGOTA, Colombia — With talk of million-dollar payoffs and clandestine videos made with James Bond-style mini-cameras, the legal battle pitting Chevron Corp against Ecuadorian activists over environmental damage in the Amazon jungle is getting stranger by the day.

A third term for Uribe?

BOGOTA, Colombia — Is Colombian President Alvaro Uribe steamrolling toward a third term? Or running out of time? Just before midnight Tuesday, the Colombian House of Representatives by an 85-5 margin approved a bill to hold a referendum that could pave the way for Uribe to stand in next year’s election.

Accusations of bribery in legal battle between Chevron and Ecuadorian activists

BOGOTA, Colombia — There’s been a mysterious twist in the legal battle pitting Chevron Corp. against Ecuadorian activists who want the U.S. energy company to pay for a cleanup of massive environmental damage in the Amazon jungle. Billions are at stake in the lawsuit, which is being argued before a judge in a ramshackle court room in the Ecuadorian oil boom town of Lago Agrio, located just across the border from Colombia.
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