Columbia

Courtesy of David Guillen

Editor's Note: This story originally ran in December 2017. Since then, daughter Sayuri added some new fun to the family's holiday mascot

The original tale of the Black Tuna continues below.

David Guillen remembers when he learned about Santa. It started with the kids at school.

“It was kind of catastrophic for me,” said Guillen, who was born in Columbia but now lives in Castle Rock. “I remember denying it because I knew that by admitting that there’s no Santa, that I was somehow going to be penalized by not receiving gifts from Santa.”

In this edition of Latin Roots, we look at the music of Colombia's Caribbean coast. Our guest, Beat Latino host Catalina Maria Johnson, selected some older music from Petrona Martinez and her family, as well as a more modern example from Lido Pimienta, who is part of the large Colombian population based in Toronto. Pimienta uses traditional elements in her music, yet records on her laptop.

In this edition of Latin Roots, Catalina Maria Johnson, from the Chicago-based program Beat Latino, plays music from Colombia's coastal areas where most of the country's Afro-Colombia population lives. The Pacific coastline is dominated by the sound of marimba. Johnson plays a traditional example from Grupo Naidy, and then we get to hear how Herencia De Tabiqui puts a younger, more contemporary spin on that tradition.

In the 1980s, if you moved in certain circles — or picked up the newspaper — a certain white powder was everywhere, common as dust.

Of all the violent cities of Latin America, one stands out as a great success story: Medellin, a metropolis nestled in the mountains of northwest Colombia.

Once the home of the cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar, it recorded more than 6,300 homicides in 1991, making it the world's murder capital. Then, one city government after another built schools and libraries, parks and infrastructure. The police also received an overhaul and became more adept at going after violent trafficking groups.

El Placer is a remote hamlet deep in southern Colombia, on the edge of the Amazon. Founded half a century ago by farmers who found it fertile and bucolic, its name means "The Pleasure."

But for women and girls in El Placer who suffered years of sexual assaults after an illegal armed group stormed in, the name is only associated with unspeakable violence and murder.

Brigitte Carreño, 25, is among the women who suffered. A feared local warlord in El Placer raped her when she was 12, leaving her with searing memories that remain vivid and painful to this day.

Luis Bedoya is baby-faced and skinny.

And he looks ever the boy when he puts on an industrial-sized apron, thick gloves and a metal helmet — the tools of an apprentice welder at the Don Bosco center in this city in southern Colombia.

It's a big complex, complete with classrooms, basketball courts, a dormitory and work rooms. It's home to boys and girls, as well as very young adults, who defected from the FARC rebels or were captured by the Colombian army.

As cocaine consumption falls in the United States, South American drug traffickers have begun to pioneer a new soft target for their product: big and increasingly affluent Brazil.

And the source of the cocaine is increasingly Bolivia, a landlocked country that shares a 2,100-mile border with Brazil.

As Brazilian police officers and border agents can attest, the drug often finds its way to Brazil by crossing the Mamore River, which separates the state of Rondonia from Bolivia in the heart of South America.

Throughout most of its 86 years, Los Angeles' premier tennis tournament attracted the biggest names in the game. But over the years, stars stopped coming, and so did fans.

Now the Farmers Classic, which has been in L.A. since 1927, is headed to Bogota after it was bought by a Colombian sports marketing and entertainment company.

"There's a big hole in my heart. And believe me, this is something we didn't see coming, I'll be honest," says Bob Kramer, longtime tournament director of the Farmers Classic.

They are called "crypto-Jews" or "lost Jews," and in recent years they have emerged in remote places as scattered as India, Brazil, the American Southwest and here in Colombia.

They were raised as Christians but believe they have discovered hidden Jewish roots, prompting many to return to Judaism. Many say their ancestors were Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain more than 500 years ago, as the Spanish crown embarked on a systematic persecution of Jews.

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