Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"Love In The Time Of Cholera," The Movie

Who is Gabriel García Márquez?

"Love In The Time Of Cholera," one of the greatest novels in any languange written by Colombian Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel García Márquez, is coming to a theatre near you.

The Nobel Prize honor bestowed upon García Márquez is one of the most celebrated milestones in Latin American history. The book was first published in 1985, and follows the heartbroken-struggles of Florentina Ariza as he sets out to win the heart of Fermina Daza. It takes Ariza 51 years, nine months and four days to satisfy his aching heart.

Garcia Marquez has sold millions of copies of his books over the course of his career, initially gaining international literary fame with his 1967 novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude," which was recently described by Bill Clinton as "the greatest novel in any language since William Faulkner died."

Another fan of Gabriel García Márquez is popular daytime talk show host, Oprah Winfrey, whose has so graciously included Gabriel Garcia Marquez's epic work, "One Hundred Years of Solitude" in her popular book club, listed as a must read. This has been great in promoting authors whom have yet to be discovered by readers who have not been exposed to the great works in Latin literature. The books, an often confusing but magnetic story, "One Hundred Years of Solitude" is the tale of the mythical village of Macondo and its longtime inhabitants, the Buendia family. It has sold more than 10 million copies and has been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Up to now García Márquez has always resisted the temptation to allow any high-budget English language films of his works to be produced. The most commercial adaptation of his books to hit the screen was the 1987 Italian version of Chronicle of a Death Foretold, directed by Francesco Rosi and starring Rupert Everett

As change has come to Colombia, García Márquez has also experienced a change of heart and allowed for his novel "Love In The Time Of Cholera" to be produced into a major Hollywood motion picture slated for the big screen.

Adapted for the screen by Oscar winner Ronald Harwood (The Pianist) and directed by Mike Newell (Donnie Brasco, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire).

“Love In the Time Of Cholera” examines the tale of two lovers, Florentino Ariza (Javier Bardem) and Fermina Daza (Giovanna Mezzogiorno), one more obsessed than the other, who part ways at an early age to live two very different lives. The film then tracks each over the years (circa, late 19th century through the first decades of the 20th century), while Fermina settles down with a doctor (Benjamin Bratt) her father forces her to wed and Florentino engages in 622 affairs in an attempt to mask the pain he feels due to the one that got away. Also starring in this sure-to-be-an-Oscar-contender are Liev Schreiber. Including John Leguizamo, the very lovely (and talented) Catalina Sandino Moreno and Hector Elizondo.
”Love In The Time Of Cholera” arrives in theaters on November 16.

Check out the behind-the-scenes video regarding the making of "Love In The Time Of Cholera" which was shot in Cartagena, Colombia over a period of five months.

What a great way to experience Colombia!

You have to give the producers a lot of credit for shooting the movie on location and employing a large number of locals. Also a great way to contribute to the local ecomomy.

The cast has nothing but great things to say about their experience in Colombia and more importantly, the people of Colombia.

"Love In The Time Of Cholera" will get its world premiere during the Rio International Film Festival, which is one of Latin America's biggest film festivals.

Hope you enjoy the video.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Colombia: The New Panama?


The following Bill is scheduled to be presented to the Colombian Congress.

Medellin, September 6, 2007 – In the following days the office of Treasury Ministry and Public Financing will present for consideration, to the Congress of Republic, a proposal aimed at stimulating the economy in Colombia, with an emphasis on promoting the development of a new real estate market designed to attract foreigners interested in purchasing property in Colombia.

The proposed Bill has taken into consideration the improved security in Colombia to help sell the plan, among other benefits including; affordable medical services, advanced telecommunications, warm climate, sandy beaches, wonderful landscapes, recently added airline connections from varies carriers. The Bill also provides generous benefits to both the land developer as well as those purchasing investment properties.

The National Council of Political and Social Economic Department has already approved the general guidelines for the proposal submitted by The Treasury Ministry and Public Financing department for the development and stimulation of the Colombia’s economy. The NCPSED have also recommended that the Bill allow for more elaboration of the plans proposed framework before it is submitted to Congress for approval.

The Bill is aimed at Colombian citizens living abroad and foreign investors with the objective of purchasing an investment property as a second or vacation home. It also includes plans and provisions for those who want to retire in Colombia sometime in the future. The new Bill includes many incentives to lure retirees from around the world to consider Colombia as a retirement option. The purchase of a property can also make for a profitable and safe alternative investment with regards to income property.

The objective of the Colombian Government is to enter into the investment market that has recently developed in Central and South American. Thanks to the positive advances that Colombia has made in recent years it has encouraged investors form North America as well as Europe to look at Colombia as having great investment potential outside of their respected countries. Investments from foreigners will help improve the economy and aid in the development and improvement of the Colombia’s infrastructure.
The benefits for investors
In order to develop a successful program in the second house market in Colombia it is necessary to approve benefits for these urban projects for potential investors.

An investor will not have to pay taxes on the purchase of the property.

The import of home furnishings, personal property, one automobile, will not be taxed as long as they are not sold in Colombia to another party.

You will not be taxed if you decide to rent your property to tourist visiting Colombia.

There is also an exemption on rent income originated outside of Colombia.

In order for investors to receive these benefits a person must demonstrate a minimum income whose amount you would need to meet which would be established by DIAN. They can not deny or refuse proposals with the exception being of national interest and security.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sorry Columbia. I Mean Colombia!

An Apology From America
Dear Citizens of Colombia,

We the people of the United States are embarrassed, but most of all, we are deeply sorry.

On July 2, 2007, our Democrat-controlled House Ways & Means Committee released a letter stating that the majority Democrat trade policy would be to not ratify a free trade agreement with Colombia. It states that:

"With regard to the Colombia FTA, the House of Representatives recently passed the 2008 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which redirects U.S. foreign assistance in Colombia. All of us regard Colombia as a crucial ally in a region that deserves our active engagement, and the bill represents an effort to have U.S. funds help address the root of numerous problems there. There is widespread concern in Congress about the level of violence in Colombia, the impunity, the lack of investigations and prosecutions, and the role of the paramilitary. Issues of this nature cannot solely be resolved through language in a trade agreement.

“We believe there must first be concrete evidence of sustained results on the ground in Colombia, and Members of Congress will continue working with all interested parties to help achieve this end before consideration of any FTA. Consequently, we cannot support the Colombia FTA at this time."

We recognize that the great nation and republic of Colombia has suffered a traumatizing civil war for nearly five decades. Guerrilla rebels, narco-trafficking, and political corruption have contributed to the hundreds of thousands of deaths, kidnappings, and human rights abuses during this time. Violence has undoubtedly been a problem in Colombia’s history.

Yet, despite what U.S. Congressional leaders say, we know that this trend has been reversed dramatically in the last few years. There is great evidence of “sustained results.” Since 2005, tens of thousands of right-wing paramilitaries have disarms, while the Marxist revolutionary guerrillas have been forced deep into the jungles. Terrorist attacks including bombings are down 61 percent; murders of labor leaders is down 75 percent; of mayors 58 percent; and journalists by 73 percent. Expatriates are returning to their homeland to rebuild. And most importantly, you can walk down the street without the constant fear of a bomb exploding or being kidnapped.

You have fought courageously for the day when you and your families can live safe and fulfilling lives.

Colombia has been the Unites States’ greatest ally in Latin America, working closely on a number of mutual strategic interests for years despite the heavy rebuke it must often retain from other neighbors. When no other country would back us up, you would.

We know that you have been counting on us to support you as well. A free trade agreement would open up both of our markets for mutual benefit. Capital investment from the United States would lead to unprecedented growth, job creation, and government revenues for Colombia. Yet when the time came to support you, to display our unbreakable bond and friendship, our Congressional leaders embarrassed us by failing to do so. There are simply no words to express the remorse we feel for the erroneous decisions made.

This is especially saddening because the United States of America was founded on the principles of freedom, democracy, and equality. Our Democratic Congress did not treat your country on the basis of a fair, equal partnership, with the respect that you duly deserve. It treated you as a servant, like some banana republic rather than the great and proud nation that you are.

We are committed to you, our dear friends and allies. The American people are outraged that our leaders made such a terrible decision with such dubious reasoning. You deserved better — a lot better — and our leaders let you down. Nothing is more important to us than maintaining this close bond and regain the trust that we lost. We ask that you give us the another opportunity, so that we in the United States may work to ensure that Colombia gets the respectful treatment that it deserves for its years of unwavering friendship.


The Citizens of the United States of America

Monday, September 10, 2007

Entourage In Medellin, Colombia

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The premier episode of HBO's series Entourage is based on the filming of Medellin, a movie on the life of Pablo Escobar and the filming took place on location in Colombia.

Season four of the HBO drama Entourage starring Adrien Greiner and Jeremy Piven changed scenes from Hollywood, California to the jungles of Colombia as the group of actors shoots scenes of the fictional movie Medellin about the life of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Escobar (1949-1993) was one of the original leaders of the Colombian drug trade in the 70’s and was listed as 7th on the list of Forbes richest people. His gang worked out of his birthplace of Medellin, Colombia, in the northwest part of the country. He ruthless, brutal and anyone who opposed him disappeared. He had the government so paid off that he was even elected a member of Congress under the Colombian Liberal Party. Escobar bought cocaine from Bolivia and Peru (not Colombia) and made his money transporting it to the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. At its height his empire controlled eighty percent of the world market. He was well loved by Colombia’s poor in Medellin and helped set up public works projects, built a number of churches and soccer stadiums.

For fear of death by the Cali cartel or being extradited to the United States, Escobar turned himself in to Colombian authorities under the condition that he is not extradited and serves a maximum of five years in prison. His luxurious jail, called La Catedral, was built of his own design and Escobar was often seen around town shopping, at soccer games, and at parties. When the government got word he escaped which brought about an international manhunt. A group known as Los Pepes, which was financed by the Cali cartel began a massacre of anyone who was associated with Escobar and more than 300 of his associates, friends, and family members were soon killed. Escobar himself was killed in a shootout with police on December 2, 1993 when he was found staying in a middle class home in Medellin.

The cast and crew actually went to Entourage to film the single episode, which pseudo behind the scenes look at the filming of the entire movie which was said to have taken 6 months. The filming is said to have taken place in Bogota, the capital city, although it is impossible to tell. Bogota is in an area of high mountains in the center of the country and the film set looked of lush tropical jungle, which could have been a number of places around the country.

Much of the episode, which originally aired June 17, 2007 and is entitled “Welcome to the Jungle,” deals with Producer Eric and director Billy Walsh arguing over costs and the filming schedules, mixed in with Walsh’s lusting after the Colombian co-star played by Sofia Vergara.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Colombia Is Passion

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Discover Cartangena, Colombia

It seems like one of the most frequently asked questions I've been asked about my trip to Colombia is, "if it's true that Colombian women are some of the most beautiful women in the world?"

To be honest it's a tough question for me to answer because I've only been to Colombia twice, specifically Medellin, Colombia. But what I can say is that whomever coined the popular phrase, "Blonds Have More Fun" had obviously never travelled to Colombia.

I've also received several comments regarding the lack of color on my blog from a few friends and visitors as well.

So, I decided to kill two birds with one stone by adding a photo from the amazingly talented Colombian photographer ZUAN. Hopefully this will answer a few questions as well as help to improve the overall look of my blog.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Taste Of Medellin, Street Vendors

Found on street DEAD!

In anticipation of my third trip to Medellin I started taking care of a few things around my home. The most important choir was to take care of the housekeeping that really needed to be done, since I'm the world's greatest procrastinator. I got it all done, that's all that matters. Afterwards I started setting out a few of the things that I plan to take with me on this next trip. After all that work I started getting hungry and came to the conclusion that I needed to go out to eat, since I didn't have any food in the house. As I was trying to decide where to go, I remembered that one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago recently opened a new restaurant very close to my home. It was decided, I was going to "Las Tablas" , which is on my list as one of the top five restaurants in Chicago. Las Tablas in owned and operated by real live Colombianos and the food is as close as you can get to typical Colombian cuisine.

The place was a bit more upscale than their original restaurant. I was greeted by a young man dressed all in black. The place wasn't too busy so I got to choose where I wanted to sit. I chose a seat by the window. After the waiter poured me a tall glass of ice-water, I order two Empanadas. I browsed through the menu as I waited for my Empanadas. Everything on the menu looked soooo delicious!! I decided that I was going to order the Matromonio plate which consists of a wonderful combination of grilled New York strip steak and a chicken breast to go along with sweet plantain, yuca, and a potato with chimichurri sauce.

Oh good. The Empanadas arrived and the waiter took my order. Wow! The Empanadas tasted so good!!

Perfect timing, my meal arrived as I took my last bite. I savored evey bite.

The steak was cooked perfectly, it was extremely delicious. I've never been a big fan of yuca but I found if I added a little bit of chimichurri sauce that it tasted better than I had remembered from my last effort to enjoy the yuca. The sweet plantain, was o' so sweet. How can you go wrong? The potato was small, which was perfect because at this point I didn't think I would be able to finsih my whole meal. I was right. After taking a small sample of the chicken breast I decided I better get a doggy-bag because at this point I was very satisfied with my meal and over-eating tends to spoil every great meal.

I asked the waiter for a doggy-bag and he promptly returned, with the check as well. Something that usually takes extra time in Colombia, any Latin country for that matter. After I paid my bill I slowly got up from my seat. I stopped at the door to read a sign which promoted "Live Music Every Weekend" and I knew that I would be back for another great meal and the next time I was going to have the opportunity to enjoying listening to Colombian music.

If you're ever in Chicago stop by "Las Tablas" for great typical Colombian cuisine.

I can't wait for my next trip to Medellin, Colombia!!

Here are some great Colombian recipes (Spanish)

Feel free to comment on your favorite Colombian restaurant in your hometown.