Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Happy Halloween!" the Kids in Medellin

"Triqui-triqui halloween
quiero dulces para mi
si no hay dulces para mi
se te crece la nariz!"

Discover Medellin, Colombia on YouTube

So the other day I decided I wanted to post a video on YouTube to share some of the 3,500 photos I took over my three trips to Medellin this year, 2007.

What a challenge!! Especially for someone who has no experience making a video by downloading photos and adding music tracks as well.

My Dell Latitude Laptop came with Windows MovieMaker, it seemed simple enough to me after browsing the editing window a few days prior.

I'm ready to convert my Medellin photos into a video for the world to see!!

I sat down, opened Windows MovieMaker and started downloading photos. After downloading about 5o phots from my flash drive I forgot to save my work before taking out the flash drive where most of the photos were stored.

SHOOT!! Everything, all my work was lost! I now had to start all over.

Oh well, I started over and downloaded about 1oo photos this time around, it's getting easier as I get more accustomed to the MovieMaker program.

SHOOT!! I can't believe it!! You will never guess what happened? My freakin' laptop froze up on me and I could not get it to function properly, I shut down my computer.

AGAIN, everything, all my work was lost!!!

My laptop almost flew out the window!!

Lucky for my Dell, I love my laptop! Otherwise, out the window it may have gone.

Okay, okay. I'm going to take my time, work slow, not to quick. I am going to save my work evey step of the way and will be more patient, knowing my laptop can't handle multiple tasks at once.

I took my time, downloaded photos, save, repeat. Okay, I now had a good selection of photos from my varies trips to Medellin. I wanted to be able to show as many areas as possible in order to give the viewer a better idea of the beauty of Medellin, the Medellin I LOVE!

Okay, next step is to drag the photos I want to use into a timeline. Easy enough. I choose a pic, drag it down, repeat. I have to keep checking the video time line underneath the preview window, since YouTube only allows 1o minute clips to be uploaded to their site.

After sometime had passed I check the video bar and see that it is at 1o:18". Good, I was getting tired of dragging the photos into the timeline, it's also getting late.

I hit play and watch the whole video. At this point, it has no music tracks lined up with the video. It seems dry and boring!!

It needs MUSIC!!

This creates more problems and questions. Where do I get music? How do I download the music? How do I sink up the music I want to the video time line?

I search the world wide web and come across a Medelin website, en Espanol, where Paisas have downloaded some of their favorite music. I listen to a few songs. There are a few songs I like. I download several of them to my computer.

Next, I click "download audio" in Windows Moviemaker and it allows me to "browse" my computer for audio source. I choose three songs that I liked and "wah-lah!" It is easier than I thought. What a great program for someone with no video editing experince who has a desire to make a home movie to share with friends and family and the world if he or she so chooses.

There is a audio option at the bottom, I click it and it tells me to click, drag, and drop the selected audio into the video time frame. I do this three times with the three songs I want to use. The music is now on the timeline, in sink with the images. How easy was that!!

Wait I am not done. I need to add opening titles and credits at the end of the video.

This is too easy. I click the "add titles" option and it's as easy as one, two, three. I'm feeling like Spielberg now.

I now have the photos, with the music tracks sinked up, and now the titles have been created.

I AM FINISHED!! Well not really...

It's time to upload the video to YouTube. This part is a bit easier for me since I have already uploaded a few videos in the past.

Next... I open my YouTube account, click upload, upload my video.... wait a few minutes and... finally Discover Medellin, Colombia is Live on YouTube!

I'm tired, but after thinking about quitting, finishing the video was very rewarding. I watch the video twice before going to bed.

The photos are a mix taken over my three trips to Medellin this year, 2007.

Hope y'all enjoy the video.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Bill Gates, the president of Microsoft, shakes the hand of the President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe

I may not be a smart man, but I know a sweetheart land deal when I see one... and I think Bill Gates has a personal interest in purchasing a second home in Colombia as an added investment to his vast portfolio.

What does Bill Gates really know about investing in Colombian real estate... learn more about the recently proposed new law submitted to the Colombian congress (more info here) - Yes it is in ENGLISH!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Investment property in Colombia


Colombia has a great potential to become one of the favorite destination for retired and financial foreigners by purchasing a second house. A bill seeks to develop this market.

Colombian Government decided to boost second house market, attending private sector’s interests. The objective is to attract retired and financial foreigners and the Colombians who have established their lives abroad, in order that they purchase a house in Colombia to live seasonally, spend vacations, or even to settle permanently in our country.

Through a bill, to be submitted to the Congress in the coming days, and some changes on foreign investment regime, the government plans to grant tax exemptions to investors, developers, and buyers of great housing projects to be built in free zones destined exclusively to this kind of initiatives.

Although, it hasn’t been decided which will be these areas, the Caribbean, Coffee Zone, Antioquia and Santander are shaping up as the most attractive places for development of these projects that it is expected to bring investment and consumptions in complementary sectors of the economy, as it has already happened in Central American countries.

Potentialities and benefits...

More than 78 millions of people born between 1946 and 1964 in developed countries, the baby boomers, have begun to withdraw from labor market and they are looking for an integral lifestyle, easy and uncomplicated, a clean environment and a healthy community, to spend there a holiday season or to live there for a time.

That is, a market where they can purchase a second house. Some countries like Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Panama, have been attracting and encouraging the investments of these retirees in housing projects through tax exemptions that have increased the flow of foreign investment led to the construction, for several years.

Colombia, as much as Central American countries, has all the potential to develop a second home market and to attract a good percentage of those retired investors and to other financial foreigners. Even, Colombians living abroad for a long time who do not receive income in the country, they become potential customers for this project.

Our country has a good air connection with European countries and United States, and it has a huge tourist potential thanks to diversity of climates and its ecological biodiversity, and it has a housing offer qualitatively and quantitatively competitive. “While in the United States, you paid USD 500.000 in average as an initial quota of a house, with same amount you can buy a luxury property in Colombia” says Eduardo Loaiza, Manager of Camacol Antioquia.

In addition, private and public health services and cosmetic surgery are of a very good quality in the seven major cities, which makes it even more attractive for foreigner investors.

In fact, Colombia has already begun standing out as an important destination at the international level. Claudia Marmolejo, manager of Cartagena and Caribbean Show Room affirms that Colombians living abroad are investing today in a house in their home towns, as well as in tourist cities in the country for their visits o for the day of their return.

“There are projects where these buyers represent 10 to 25% of the sales and it is estimated that percentage of foreigner buyers in cities such as Cartagena reaches to 30%”, Marmolejo says. As per Sergio Mutis, Fedelonjas’s President, Bogotá, Cartagena and Barranquilla are today safer than others Latin American cities. However, much remains to do in areas such as telecommunications.

“We have everything to be a world class destination for the purchase of this kind of housing”, Treasury Minister, Oscar Iván Zuluaga, says. Interest of private sector to make part of these large housing projects is already evident in the tourist cities like Cartagena where constructions started in the stratum 6 of this city amount to 3.134 units, representing an investment around US$489 millions.

“If we can move forward with the bill, the benefits would be visible soon, especially for tourist and construction sectors”, adds the Minister. There will be more demand for restaurants, shopping centers, more jobs for unskilled labor, more entry of foreign Exchange, and more foreign investment, especially in the real state sector. Sergio Mutis affirms that development of this market will extend the positive cycle of the construction sector, creating a new demand which is not associated with the normal cycle of the Colombian economy and Beatriz Uribe, Camacol’s president, adds that, as it is known, construction boom has a positive impact in all the economy.

The Bill
To attract retired and financial foreigners to invest in Colombia, the bill proposes the creation of free zones of second house, in which construction projects of urban-tourist housing will be developed. These include tourism infrastructure, marine, timeshare buildings and hotels among others.

Besides, the areas will be built and managed by national corporate or foreign branches that may no invest less than USD 200 millions in development of this kind of Project and it will be approved by the DIAN, with a previous technical concept of Housing and Commerce Ministery.

As per Mutis, no only the Colombian Caribbean is attractive for this kind of projects “Cities as Bucaramanga and Manizales are ready to accommodate retirees associated with academy, which because the climate and its cultural environment of great university development, could offer them great opportunities of remaining in the surroundings or being invited to conferences.

In tourism, the coffee zone or Bucaramanga –Santander Region – Chicamocha Caynon-Socorro, offer recreational alternatives to local and foreigners with multiple golf courses and very attractive surroundings” he explains. Of course, Bogota cannot be neglected, where 50% of foreigners visiting to Colombia arrived the last year.

Perhaps, the most important tool covered in the bill for development of this market, is the tax exemptions, granted who build and manage the housing projects and those who invest in them. Exemptions to rental, to income received from abroad, possibility of entering house wares, car and other luxury goods to the area, without consider them as an import, are some of the benefits that will be awarded to investors, who must demonstrate a minimum income, which amount will be determined by the DIAN, and they may not perform remunerated activities in the country. In addition, the buyers could acquire the property through a mercantile fiduciary contract, for which reforms to current foreign investment regime must be done.

Camacol’s President affirms that besides of the incentives being granted for builders (see box), it is vital that this policy incorporates the necessary steps to hasten and simplify procedures related with soil management instrumentation and planning and construction licenses.

By this way, Colombia seeks to become one of the most important and attractive real estate investments opportunities as well as a great tourist destination in the Americas, helping Colombian citizens to benefit from foreign investment and allowing the improvement of the development cycle in the construction sector. [Transcribed from]

For more information on Investing in Colombia.

David Gonzalez skates in Medellin

David Gonzalez skates in the town of Bello, outside of Medellin.

At fifteen, David has now been skating for five years. He is the new Don in Medellin. “Don David!” people shout out as he cruises past on his way to his local concrete ramp where he can be found skating every day.

Geoff Rowley and Jeremy Fox from US skate team Flip, contacted David to join their team and invited him to the US for a skate competition. Here is a great interview David did for Slap Magazine.

When David is not studying English, he can usually be found glued to the TV watching skate videos all night, over and over, again.

It's always good to see the the kids are looking for activites to keep them occupied. Skateboarding will not keep kids off the streets, since you can't really skate indoors, yet it is a great way to keep them motivated, allowing them to express themselves.

David is a natural at skateboarding and from the video, he shows alot of promise.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Video tour of Medellin in Transformation

LATIN AMERICA -- Building a better Medellin

The Associated Press

MEDELLIN, Colombia — For anyone who followed the coverage of the Colombian drug trade in the 1980s, it's hard to hear the word "Medellin" without immediately thinking "cartel."
Click here to find out more!

Nearly a decade and a half has passed since drug kingpin Pablo Escobar was killed by police, dealing a devastating blow to his Medellin cartel. And yet the city continues to struggle with its troubled past - and with a serious criminal element that lingers to this day.

During a recent visit to Colombia's second-largest city, asap examined Medellin's struggle to reinvent itself - and turned up some signs of progress.

Take a look at this video report to get a glimpse of Medellin in 2007.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Walking and Talking in Medellin


It was an incredible and wonderful experience for me to be able to walk around the beautiful city of Medellin without fear of being kidnapped. Equipped with a camera in hand and all the time in the world I set out to explore the city. As I walked about, I was amazed by the amount of new construction and development going up around the city. More importantly, I was happy to see that it was not confined to one specific area.

During my walk, I was able to meet many warm and inviting people of Medellin, known as Paisas (pie-suhz.) The transformation of Medellin into a modern world-class city is obvious to any first time visitor taking a walk around town.

Now, I may not have the answers as to who gets the credit for transforming Medellin, but the fact is that all the locals I spoke to support the Mayor of Medellin, Sergio Fajardo, and his efforts in transforming Medellin into one of the greatest cities, not just in Colombia, but in all of Central and South America. Sergio Fajardo studied at The University of Wisconsin in the United States. And he is a man with a vision not only for Medellin today, but for the future generations to come.

Medellin Mayor, Fajardo, has been busy building libraries, public parks, shopping centers, roads, new homes, as well as promoting entrepreneurial programs to help the local economy by giving everyone an opportunity to succeed and contribute to the change. The mayor has also implemented many social programs which have been made available to many in the lower-class barrios. These programs offer hope to those who feel they have been neglected in the past. And in return it has helped to keep many young men of the streets, giving them back their sense of pride, not just in themselves, but in their community, their great city of Medellin and their country of Colombia.

I’ve always believed, if you give someone a reason to live, in this case hope, that they will always choose to live a good life over one on the streets. Especially a life that usually brings an early death.

The locals I met on the streets, from various barrios, around Medellin treated me kindly with open arms and a smile. They were all as curious about me as I was of them. They opened their homes to me and made me feel like family. They shared their personal stories with me about their lives, hopes and dreams. They all told me to go back to America and let everyone know that the Paisas do not promote violence, that they want to live without fear, they want to be able to walk the streets of their own neighborhoods without risk of being victims for those that choose to commit crimes. They are tired of the violence and want to live in peace, in order to live a normal life.

They also made it a point to mention that they wish no harm to come to any Americans visiting their beautiful city of Medellin. The past has haunted them for so long that it seemed they would never escape the period when violence was a daily occurrence. But now things have changed in Medellin, a magical and miraculous transformation has swept across the city, reaching as far and high as the hilltop shantytowns where residents never thought hope was something they could experience while living in Medellin.

The Paisas I spoke to on the streets and up in the hilltop barrios would not stop raving about Mayor Fajardo efforts and his aggressive campaign toward ending the decades of neglect in the poorer barrios. Fajardo made them many promises for change. He not only kept his word, but he also offered many locals something that they so badly needed for such a long time… HOPE!

After witnessing many urban and social programs taking affect, the locals took it upon themselves to contribute to the transformation. They said, “Mayor Fajardo kept his word. Now, we must do our part to show the people of Medellin, that we appreciate the changes. We are all Paisas... we are all in this together!”

The most amazing thing I witnessed was how curious the children I met on the streets where. They were not shy, to say the least. They always approached me with big smiles on their faces, eager to share their stories of growing up in Medellin. Lucky for them, they were all too young to witness the violent past in their hometown. And it shown in the faces. It was obvious, because they were all full of hope with dreams toward the future. I held many impromptu English lessons on the streets as the children pleaded with me to teach them English. “Juan, Tu, ThwrEE, FO...” the kids would all repeat after me. Everytime I think about those children trying to count outloud in Ingles, it always brings a big smile to my face. I feel so lucky!!

Say what you will about Colombia, but if you haven't been to Medellin, then you do not know the magic and true beauty that this enchanting city possesses.

The city, the culture, the weather, the energy and the Paisas will all capture your heart after just one day in this wonderful city in Colombia, known as MEDELLIN!


Hope you enjoy the pictures of my journey through the city of Medellin... from fear to hope!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cheap flights to Colombia

José María Córdova International Airport - Medellin, Colombia

It looks like there will be more flights to Colombia from the US in the very near future. This is good news for travelers on a budget, like myself.

The airfare for my first trip to Medellin in March was $500 through American Airlines. My second trip in June, also American Airlines, was $600. For my third trip in September, I booked my flight using 35k miles on Continental Airlines, connecting with its travel partner Copa Airlines.

My next trip in January will be for FREE!! YES!! You read it correctly, FREE!!

Let me tell you how. Upon my arrival at Medellin's international airport, José María Córdoba, for my early morning depature from Medellin to Chicago, the place was a madhouse. I checked my bags and was waiting in line, half asleep. Too much partying the night before. Anyways, I overhear an American Airlines employee asking several people in line if they would be willing to postpone their departure. This got my full attention.

I asked the AA employee why the airport was packed. She informed me that the day before a flight was cancelled do to mechanical problems and that they did not have enough seats for everyone. She then mentioned that they were looking for volunteers to give up their seats. I asked her what they were offering and she replied, a $600 flight voucher, $100 for a hotel in Medellin, a lunch and dinner voucher, as well as taxi fare to and from the hotel to the airport.


After informing them that I would love to volunteer, they gave me the VIP treatment as they worked out all the details and provided me with all my vouchers.

In the photo, taken at José María Córdoba, you can see my red suitcases after they were taken off the airplane.

Anyways, let me share this article regarding interest by JetBlue in aquiring flights to Colomnbia. Hopefully, for those interested in traveling to Colombia sometime next year there may well be more afforable airfares.

South Florida Business Journal
JetBlue Asks For Colombia Flights - Tuesday, October 17, 2007
JetBlue Airways has filed for authority to fly between Fort Lauderdale and Bogota, Colombia - which, if granted, would make it the first low-cost U.S. carrier to fly that route.

Under a 2000 treaty, U.S. airlines are limited to 70 weekly flights to Colombia's main cities, which are currently allotted to American Airlines, Continental Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

However, in it's filing with the U.S. Department of Transportation, JetBlue cites a September 2007 agreement between the two countries that opens up to 21 additional weekly flights. JetBlue applied for 14 of them - seven from Fort Lauderdale beginning in October 2008 and seven from Orlando beginning in April 2008.

JetBlue's proposed schedule lists daily round-trips to Bogota from both cities.

Currently, American Airlines - flying from Miami International Airport - is the only U.S. carrier flying to the country from South Florida. Colombian airline Avianca is the only carrier flying to Colombia from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

"Latin America is crying out for high-quality, low-fare service to the U.S.," JetBlue spokesman Sebastian White said. "We believe JetBlue is the best choice to inject competition into what is a notoriously overpriced and underserved market."

The limited flights have been the source of competition between airlines in the past.

In April, Miramar-based Spirit Airlines in April requested 14 unused American Airlines slots be reassigned to it. It wanted to fly daily between Fort Lauderdale and Colombian cities Bogota and Barranquilla.

A month later American Airlines, which holds the authority for 42 weekly flights to Colombia, announced it would add 14 flights to Colombia beginning Dec. 13. Regulators OK'd that plan, but said if the airline did not launch the flights, the permits would be automatically revoked.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Where is John Lama?

I thought I'd share this travelogue report from John Lama regarding his recent trip to Medellin, Colombia. Also, check out the wonderful pictures and videos he has posted in his journal for all to see.

I have to agree with John... I can't quiet pinpoint what is so amazing about Medellin, maybe there is something in the water. In anycase, I will continue to drink the water! Enjoy...

"My last stop in Colombia is the city of Medellin, and it ended up being my favorite. Medellin is a medium-sized city cradled in a valley at an elevation of about 4,500 feet. This location leads to mild temperatures year-round, earning Medellin the nickname "City of Eternal Spring". But I think the city's best asset is it's people, known as paisas, who are known even among Colombians for their warmth and hospitality.

In the early 90's Medellin had the dubious distinction of being the murder capital of the world. President Uribe, himself a paisa, has been so successful in reducing crime that Medellin is now one of Latin America's safest large cities. Colombia's fashion and flower industries are centered in this area, and the economy is growing quickly.

I didn't realize how lucky I was to be arriving in Medellin right before the famous flower festival. The "Feria de las Flores" is a giant cultural celebration of the Antiochian region, and there are over 130 events held in the area over the period of a week in early August. There are concerts, art shows, and a cavalcade which this year included thousands of horses. The central event of the festival is the parade of large ornate flower arrangements called silleteros. Check out the pictures and videos I have included from the flower festival.

I rented an apartment in the upscale Poblado neighborhood for the month of August. Something about Medellin charmed me, and I can't point to any one factor. Yes, the weather is nice, the people are sweet, the city is big enough but not gigantic. I also like how green everything is, with trees and flowers everywhere. The Poblado neighborhood is also a comfortable place to stay, with nice restaurants and shops, but I still felt the excitement of experiencing a foreign culture while in Medellin. There is just some other factor I can't quite explain that has me wanting to go back.
The good news is I will return later this month (October), and several of my classmates are coming back as well. I guess I am not the only person who fell in love with Medellin."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Nichole Kidman to remake Colombian movie

Universal Pictures partners with Nicole Kidman who is set to produce and star in the remake of Colombian horror flick.

Oscar-winning, Australian actress Nicole Kidman to star in Hollywood remake of Colombian horror film "Al Final Del Espectro."

The 40-year-old star of "Cold Mountain" and "Moulin Rouge" will play a woman suffering from agoraphobia who moves to a new apartment building after a tragedy and starts seeing ghosts.

Juan Felipe Orozco, who helmed the original film released last year, has been hired by studio chiefs at Universal to direct the remake.

Kidman, who won an Academy Award in 2003 for her portrayal of writer Virginia Woolf in the "The Hours," is soon to appear in science-fiction thriller "The Invasion," which is released in US theatres later this month. - Daily Variety

Check out the trailer for "Al Final Del Espectro" movie.

Al Final Del Espectro - Funny video clips are a click away

The Rise of a New Latin America - NEWS

LATIN AMERICA - The Sunset of U.S. Empire Building:The Rise of a New Latin America - By Michael Hogan

Colombia has gone from a war-ravaged, drug-infested, insecure country in the 90s to one of the most prosperous and mostly safe regions in Latin America. I spent a month and a half there last year and was impressed by the cosmopolitan excitement of Bogotá which compares favorably with Boston in term of cultural activities, music, museums, documentary film-making, fine universities, and continental cuisine. The young people are stylish, educated, and multilingual. It has a strong middle class and, while it has its poor, there is little evidence of homelessness and beggars which one can see any day in Washington or San Francisco.

Medellín, once considered the “murder capital” of the world, is now one of the most attractive cities in the Americas. It has the feel of an Austrian metropolis surround by pristine farms, lushly wooded hills, and crisp mountain air. It has a well-maintained infrastructure, with clean streets, excellent public transportation, and one of the most prestigious medical universities in the Americas. Medellín is, in fact, so safe that it was the city Secretary of State Rice chose to visit last spring on her visit to the region.

Much of Colombia’s success is due to its president, Alvaro Uribe, whose family was a victim of violence; he has since been committed to its eradication. But, in fairness, it is more than that. There also has been a genuine effort by the U.S. Department of State to work in a cooperative way with local officials in the country, not only to help contain the violence and eradicate drug cultivation, but also to eliminate corruption in the police and armed forces, and to secure the already-strong educational system. U.S. representatives in the region have also exhibited respect for the culture while engaged in these activities. There have been virtually no negative incidents involving U.S. personnel.

Colombian universities are now attracting new students from all over the world; secondary schools are involved in the Advanced Placement program; the president has implemented a plan to stop the brain-drain of the best and brightest and is also offering financial incentives for the 4,000 or so Colombians with masters and doctorate degrees now living abroad to return to their native country.

While I was there last spring a local newspaper conducted a survey asking whether the readers felt more secure now than a decade ago, whether they trusted the police, and whether the president was doing a good job. Affirmative responses were in the 70th percentile. This fall I went down again to visit a school in Barranquilla and I continue to be impressed by the quality of education, the determination of young people to get ahead, and the enthusiasm of those who attend the (sometimes free) concerts offered by Juanes and Shakira, two Colombians whose international acclaim and wealth have not distracted them from their obligations to their homeland, and who have made significant financial and moral commitments to building peace and aiding Colombian youth. Shakira’s Pies Descalzos (Barefoot) Foundation has given aid to thousands of children displaced by civil wars and violence; Juanes has brought global attention to landmine removal, and has turned paramilitary rifles into guitars to highlight the disarmament process.

I have read (and have myself written) a great deal of criticism of the U.S. in Latin America, most of it justified. However, for those who criticize our cooperative efforts of the past decade with Colombians to work for a safer and more prosperous country, I would say come to Medellín, come to Bogotá. You will see what can be accomplished.
(read complete article)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Did you know this about Colombia?

"Paradox" is the term most often applied to Colombia.

Seldom does it appear in newspapers that Colombia is the leading supplier of flowers to the United States, that it is a pioneer in private philanthropy throughout Latin America, and that, despite the problems, it remains highly attractive for oil and gas exploration. Granted, such accomplishments do not easily lend themselves to appealing headlines. But they are critical to come to an honest picture of a country endowed with considerable advantages, struggling to pursue a productive course.

Colombia is South America’s oldest democracy.
Colombia has a proud tradition of civilian, constitutional government. During the 20th century, all presidents were elected democratically. The only exception was a military regime during the 1953-1957 period. While many Latin American countries suffered dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s, Colombia remained a solid bastion of democracy in the continent.

Colombia is the only major Latin American country that did not have to renegotiate its debt in the 1980s.

Colombia is among the few Latin American countries with a sound history of external debt management. It has never defaulted on its international financial responsibilities. The latest available debt indicators from the Inter-American Development Bank reveal a continuation of this trend. From 1991-1998, Colombia’s foreign debt as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product declined, comparing favorably to the Latin American average.

Colombia’s capital city, Bogota, is safer and more modern than ever.
Bogotá has one of the lowest homicide rates of major cities in the Western Hemisphere. In 2000, the homicide rate fell by some 35 %, largely due to innovative reforms in urban security. The city government has also undertaken a multi-billion capital improvement program, “refurbishing 877 parks, paving 117 miles of roads, introducing sewage treatment to 415 neighborhoods and building 22 scholars and 21 libraries.” Transmilenio, Bogota’s new transportation system, has effectively reduced the average commute from one hour to 20 minutes.

Colombia remains highly attractive for oil and gas exploration.
Colombia features low commercial risk, experienced local personnel, and sound infrastructure for hydrocarbon transportation. The sector has significantly improved during the past two decades; the country’s oil production grew from 126 kilo barrels a day in 1980 to more than 800 in 1999. Since 2000, Colombia has signed 49 contracts for exploration with the biggest petroleum companies in the world, including Occidental, British Petroleum, Chevron, Total, Texaco, and Arco.

Colombia’s internet access extends to rural and low-income communities.
High internet accessibility is due in part to the fact that Colombia maintains the third-highest telephone density in Latin America, ahead of Brazil and Mexico. A variety of important governmental efforts to expand e-commerce opportunities, including a bilateral initiative launched with the United States in May 2000, have further aided growth. From 1999-2000, the number of internet users rose 28%, and the number of computers owned by Colombians jumped more than 20%. In 2001, internet traffic has grown by 116%.

Colombia’s fight against smuggling has proven effective.
The Colombian government has introduced a unique mechanism to control smuggling through agreements with private industries. According to government figures, while in 1998 some 87% of cigarettes sold in Colombia were smuggled into the country, in 2001, more than 90% had a legal origin, a dramatic, positive reversal. During the same period, legal sales in the appliance sector went from 40 to 82%.

Colombia is the number-two flower exporter in the world (after the Netherlands), and the number-one supplier to the United States.

Colombia exports more than 50 types of flowers including roses, carnations, pompoms, chrysantemums, gypsophila, and astromeria. The country also contains the largest variety of orchids in the world, with some 3500 types. In 2000, roses were the leading export product, with sales of US $176 million. Exports to North America, the main market of Colombian flowers, rose to US $488.2 million last year, representing nearly 85% of the country’s total flower exports.

Colombia has a renowned medical and scientific community.
Colombia boasts Barraquer, an internationally recognized eye clinic where an innovative laser technology for surgical purposes was devised. It draws patients from throughout the Andean region and Caribbean basin. There are also many outstanding Colombian doctors; three especially stand out. Dr. Manuel Patarroyo developed the only successful malaria vaccine and donated it to the World Health Organization. Dr. Rodolfo Llinas is recognized as one of the world’s top researchers of the human brain. And Dr. Andres Jaramillo Botero, an expert in nanotechnology, is regarded as one of the most distinguished scientists of the 20th century.

Colombia produces world-class cultural leaders.
Nobel prize-winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez holds the world record for sales of any single novel. One Hundred Years of Solitude has sold 32 million copies and has been translated into more than two dozen languages. The works of painter and sculptor Fernando Botero have been exhibited in the most prestigious galleries in the world; his paintings have sold for over US $1 million. Singer Carlos Vives has become recognized for his interpretation of a local music style known as vallenato, breaking national record sales (more than 2.5 million sold). Shakira, who won a Grammy in 2001 for the Best Latin Pop Album, has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide.

Nearly 60,000 private, non-profit organizations are registered in Colombia, reflecting a vibrant civil society.
These organizations include cooperatives, indigenous organizations, family and neighborhood associations, cultural groups, private foundations, and research centers. The proliferation of such organizations highlights Colombia's history of decentralization, unique in Latin America. The organizations have established strong ties with the Colombian businesses to finance their activities. Colombian philanthropic organizations, especially in the city of Cali, have been pioneers in Latin America in supporting a wide array of development activities.

Colombia has the second-richest biodiversity in the world after Brazil.
Colombia has over 1800 species of birds alone. This is partly due to Colombia’s blend of terrains and climates, with more than a thousand miles of coastline as well as three majestic mountain ranges.

Colombia’s publishing houses are the engine of book production and exporting in Latin America.

Colombia is also the region’s leading exporter of books. Carvajal S.A., a Cali-based group, manages one of the largest editorials in Latin America, one that is present in fifteen Spanish-speaking countries and the United States. It specializes in school textbooks, managerial, self-help, literature, and children's books, as well as reference materials such as dictionaries and encyclopedias. In addition, the library run by the Central Bank in Bogota lends more books than any other in Latin America.

In 2000, Colombia had the highest-ranking soap opera in the world.
“Betty la Fea” (Betty the Ugly), an unusual heroine in her lack of aesthetic attributes, had over 18 million Colombians glued to the television each night. The show appeared in 15 Western countries, gathering 80 million viewers in Latin America and the United States.

Does this look familiar?


Friday, October 12, 2007

Travel To Medellin, Colombia!

My first trip to Medellin, Antioquia - Colombia, March 2007...

When I booked my first trip to Medellin I did not know what to expect based on all the negative media reports in the US regarding violence in Colombia. It seemed that whenever I informed any of my friends, family and colleagues about my planned trip to Colombia, they all thought I was crazy! Well, my flight was already booked and my hotel room was reserved, so no turning back now. I was going to Colombia!

"What did I discover in Colombia?" some of you may ask.

Well, I did not come across any kidnappers upon my arrival. But, what I did discover was a wonderful magical world-class metropolitan city in South America. The culture, the food, the music, the warm weather, salsa clubs, vibrant nightlife, lots of modern and interesting architecture throughout the city, amazing views from the metrocable, a much superior metro system compared to the one back home. And a incredibly pleasant surprise, something that was not mentioned in any of the trip reports I read before my departure, an beautiful expansive water park to rival anything in the states.

I spent a whole day relaxing at "El Parque de Las Aguas" and found it to be a very enjoyable experience which divided my trip. I had a great time watching the locals spend their weekend with the family. There were many kids around the park with friends and family enjoying the beautiful weather and experiencing the varies water rides available. There were many families who brought blankets and picnic baskets filled with typical Colombian dishes along with treats for the children to enjoy.

There are also many public parks in Medellin were the locals meet to socialize and talk about the daily news as well as world events. Old men sit on park benches snacking on fresh fruit, sharing treats with the birds, which also seemed to enjoy mixing with the locals. Young mothers busy taking care of their babies while the older children run around playing. The children are very friendly and love to play games and joke around with friends and tourist alike.

More importantly, what separates Medellin from other travel destinations in South Ameirca are the generous and friendly locals known as Paisas (pie-sahs). I traveled to Medellin alone but never felt so much at home due to the fact that the Paisas made me feel like family. Everyone I met was eager to show off their great city. I was continually being invited to travel across town to see many of the wonderful places a new visitor to Medellin must see during their trip.

One of the most frequently asked questions was, “What part of town does your family live in Medellin?” I told them I did not have any family in Medellin. To which they replied, “Who do you know in Medellin?” I said I did not know anyone. They all thought I was crazy but then responded with a smile, “You now have friends and family in Medellin.”

The only negative comment I have about my experience in Medellin is that I put on a few extra pounds because almost everyone I met invited me to their home for a traditionally home cooked Colombian dinner, which I was always happy to accept all invitations. :-) The Paisas are great at making you feel at home in a foreign country.

The first thing I did upon my return to the states was book another trip.

Tip: I would strongly suggest anyone interested in visiting Medellin to brush up on their Spanish because there are not too many Paisas who speak English. No worries, an English program has now been added as part of the student courses. Medellin takes pride and promotes reading in all its educational institutions as part of its transformation into a world class destination for travelers from around the world to visit.

This blog was created to promote the positive side of Medellin. It will be updated with the latest news, articles, information, trip reports and recommendations for those who are interested in traveling to the city of eternal spring.

Vive Colombia! I love Medellin!

Here are a few pictures from my first trip.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Oliver Stone to produce 'Escobar' movie


It all started with HBO's Entourage's fictional movie "Medellin." NOT!

The truth is writer/director Joe Carnahan was the first one in Hollywood to show interest in a project based on the book "Killing Pablo" by Mark Bowden.

And now... Oliver Stone and Company have announced yet another Pablo Escobar movie, as reported in Variety.

Variety - Mon., Oct. 8, 2007

Antoine Fuqua will direct "Escobar," a biopic about the notorious Colombian drug-trafficker Pablo Escobar that aspires to be the first of two rival pics on the subject to make it into production.

Oliver Stone will produce with J2 Pictures partners Justin Berfield and Jason Felts, and James Reach.

Fuqua, Stone and J2 are up against "Killing Pablo," an adaptation of the Mark Bowden book about the hunt for Escobar that Joe Carnahan will direct. Bob Yari is financing that project, with Javier Bardem and Christian Bale attached to star.

Carnahan isn't immediately available, however, because he's committed to directing George Clooney in "White Jazz," a high-profile adaptation of the James Ellroy book.

"Escobar" is based on "Mi Hermano Pablo," a book written by Roberto Escobar Gaviria, who served as his brother's accountant and confidant and whose company, STL Holdings, committed the life and literary rights of the Escobar family.

David McKenna, whose credits include "Blow" and "American History X," is working on a rewrite under the supervision of Stone and Fuqua.

"Escobar" has its financing in place, according to J2 partners Berfield and Felts. Production is slated to begin the in first quarter of 2008 in Colombia and Puerto Rico, and Jere Hausfater will handle international sales through Essential Entertainment. Pic will be introduced at the American Film Market.

Stone, who has covered the drug-smuggling terrain as a screenwriter on "Midnight Express" and "Scarface," also knows a thing or two about winning a biopic race: His movie on Alexander the Great got into production first, halting a rival film on the Macedonian conqueror that Baz Luhrmann was to direct and Leonardo DiCaprio was to topline.

Carnahan has worked for five years on "Killing Pablo." Awareness of the subject was recently heightened by "Medellin," a fictional film that was part of an ongoing storyline in the HBO series "Entourage."

While Carnahan and Yari downplayed a rival's emergence in announcing that their Escobar film was on firm footing, the "Escobar" producers said theirs is an honest depiction of Escobar's rise to become one of the world's richest men by leading the Medellin drug cartel and inflicting terror upon Colombia.

"Joe Carnahan's notion of us poaching his territory and rushing for a pre-strike start is false. We've been working with Robert and a half-dozen consultants for a year and a half to tell an accurate story," said Berfield, the former "Malcolm in the Middle" star who's also mobilizing a feature about Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia.

Berfield said that while Escobar's brother is a consultant with a first-hand perspective on how his brother built a drug empire, the sibling doesn't have script approval.

"My brother will be portrayed as a ruthless head of the Medellin cartel," Escobar Gaviria said in a statement. "This is just 10% of the story. The other 90% is the story others trying to portray him simply don't have."

Stone said: "This is a great project about a fascinating man who took on the system. I think I have to thank 'Scarface,' and maybe even Ari Gold." (full article)

Check out the YouTube video, "The True Killing of Pablo Esobar" Part 1 of 10 linked above.

I am personally rooting for Joe Canrahan's movie "Killing Pablo" since it seems he is truly passionate about the project, not just jumping on the bandwagon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

U.S. Dept of Commerce Travels to Colombia

Parque de los Deseos

Commerce Secretary Gutierrez to Lead 2nd Congressional Delegation to Colombia Monday, October 8, 2007

MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY—U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez today announced he will lead a second congressional delegation to Colombia from Oct. 12-14 as part of the Bush administration’s effort to push for approval of this key bilateral trade agreement. Gutierrez is in Uruguay to discuss trade and economic ties before going to Brazil and then Colombia.

“The US-Colombia FTA is great for American exporters and workers and for Colombian development,” said Gutierrez. "Colombian exporters receive duty-free access to the U.S. market. This trade agreement will give U.S. exporters the same access that Colombians have to our markets.”

“The Uribe administration is moving Colombia in the right direction. Violence is down and prosperity is up,” said Gutierrez. “The free trade agreement (FTA) is the most important step we can take to spur economic growth, reduce poverty, and help to stem violence in Colombia. An FTA will expand our commercial ties, encourage social justice, improve education and healthcare to support democracy and the rule of law.”

Gutierrez will lead his second U.S. congressional delegation to Colombia in a month to show the positive economic and social changes being driven by President Alvaro Uribe, a key U.S. ally. Gutierrez and the delegation will meet with government officials and members of the business community and civil society, including union leaders.

“Colombia’s positive path, since 2000, is directly due to the bipartisan success of Plan Colombia that President Clinton and then Speaker Hastert had the vision to support,” said Gutierrez. “The Colombia FTA is the logical extension of Plan Colombia.”

Through Plan Colombia there has been a steep decline in violence.

By 2006, Medellin’s murder rate was down to 29 per 100,000 persons—lower than many major U.S. cities.

Also, according to the State Department:
Terrorist attacks dropped from 1,645 in 2002 to 646 in 2006.
Homicides dropped 40 percent from 2002 to 2006.
Kidnappings dropped 76 percent from 2002 to 2006.

(full report)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

U.S. and Colombia Agree to Expand Flights

"Cheap flights to Colombia?"

Good news for travelers interested in exploring the beauty Colombia has to offer visitors. Hopefully, this news will have a positive affect regarding lower airfares to all destinations in Colombia.

"The United Department of State and the Republic of Colombia have concluded an agreement to expand and liberalize our civil aviation relationship. Beginning on October 1, this agreement will expand opportunities for trade and people-to-people contacts between our two nations.

After roughly two years of consultations between officials of Colombia's civil aviation agency, Aerocivil, and a U.S. interagency team chaired by State's Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs that included officials from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Commerce, the countries agreed on the first increase of flights between the two countries since 2003.

Airlines may now provide unlimited scheduled passenger service to the Colombian cities of Cartagena and Barranquilla. In addition, this agreement will boost the number of scheduled weekly frequencies (round-trip flights) to other destinations, from 70 to 91, over the next year and expand charter opportunities between the two nations.

Questions concerning this agreement may be directed to Mr. Joel Reifman, Deputy Director, Office of Aviation Negotiations, U.S. Department of State.
Telephone: 202-647-9797."

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Mayor of Medellin, Sergio Fajardo, continues building with a vision toward the future

To complete the turnaround, Colombia needs more trade with the US.

Amity Shlaes

Is there a town in the world with a reputation worse than Medellin, Colombia?

Colombia's second-biggest city has a rep so bad that it has almost become a parody of itself. In the HBO series "Entourage," the characters are obsessed with capturing the evil of Pablo Escobar in a film called "Medellin," chronicling his rise during the 1980s.

To most U.S. citizens those three syllables are code for all that is wrong with Latin America – the lawlessness, the drugs, the delusion that a network of thugs substitutes for a real economy.

Congress feels about the same way. A bilateral free-trade agreement, or FTA, between the U.S. and Colombia is one of four such agreements that the Bush administration wants lawmakers to approve this autumn. Panama and Peru may get the nod, but Colombia, along with South Korea, is in doubt.

AFL-CIO labor union President John Sweeney has labeled Colombia a "gross human-rights violator" and slammed President Alvaro Uribe for failing to halt murders of union leaders. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shares his attitude. Their underlying hesitation is simple: If Medellin is in Colombia, then Colombia is too dangerous to trade with.

But maybe Medellin has changed. Travelers there recently with Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez found a powerful turnaround that argued not only for endorsing the FTA, but also taking a second look at the region.

Medellin came into prominence in the 1980s, when Escobar made it the continent's narco state capital. In his time and after, gang members ruled. Six Medellin policemen a day turned up dead. The overall death rate was 350 per 100,000, or 10 times that of the most dangerous U.S. cities, such as Baltimore. Kidnapping and gang wars devastated all other activity, such as the textile industry, or the construction of roads and sewers.

Locals who lived in the hillside shacks of the Santo Domingo section might want to walk to a job in the valley. But to do that they had to spend two hours picking their way down a rubble-strewn incline.

President Clinton and lawmakers from both parties began to alter this picture when they passed a law to fund Colombia's demilitarization. Colombians did their part by electing Uribe president in 2002. Uribe demobilized tens of thousands of gangsters, persuading them to hand in their guns, confess to crimes and gave them stipends to begin civilian lives.

Medellin contributed by choosing a reforming mayor, Sergio Fajardo, a mathematician with a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin. Fajardo worked hour by hour with police to recapture the city. He built libraries to show that gangs weren't the only ones who could help communities. Fajardo also found an ingenious way to transport the stranded hillside citizens – by ski lift. Today gondolas carrying eight passengers each sway up and down the hill on a wire – a commuter hypotenuse that changes the urban profile.

Fajardo says funding the concrete-and-wire Metrocable wasn't so hard: "It's remarkable how much money there is to spend when you don't keep it for yourself and your friends."

The result of it all is that murders in Medellin dropped. At 29 per 100,000, the city's homicide rate is lower than Baltimore's. New peace allowed legitimate businesses, such as fresh flowers and textiles, to expand in Medellin.

To be sure, the crime drop wasn't as dramatic in the rest of the country. And the men on the stipends could take up arms again. Colombia's progress is far from irreversible.

To complete the turnaround, Colombia needs more trade with the U.S. The FTA would help by making permanent tariff reductions that currently require periodic renewal. Today, textile producers suffer in their competition with China because import tariffs are so high. The FTA would cut those. In Colombia, lawmakers have already done their part by approving the agreement Uribe has negotiated with the U.S.

In short, Colombians are not asking for this trade agreement – they are begging for it. To them it is Washington that seems delusional.

"Give us this FTA opportunity," one of the demobilized men says to Americans on the Gutierrez trip. Inaction by the U.S. "would hurt us," Fajardo says.

Instead, Pelosi publicly scolded Uribe when he visited the U.S. last spring. Other Democrats are choosing to listen to those AFL-CIO warnings, even though union leaders from Colombia's private sector support the FTA. They acknowledge the deaths, but don't believe Uribe is responsible for them. The opponents to the FTA are public-sector union workers, whose jobs are least likely to be affected by an FTA.

Only someone as cynical as an HBO character would deny the obvious: Congress ought to endorse Colombia's progress now and adopt the FTA. Once the new year starts the presidential primaries will preoccupy Americans, and Colombia's FTA wannabes will have to wait at least 12 more months for change. Disillusionment will grow.

The fading of Fidel Castro is producing a power vacuum in Latin America, notes Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah, part of the bipartisan delegation that traveled with Gutierrez. The U.S. can fill that vacuum.

"If we withdraw, Hugo Chavez fills the vacuum, and Chavez is Castro with oil," Bennett says. To ignore Medellin is to script our way to another series, "Heartbreak Hemisphere."

Friday, October 5, 2007

Trip to Venecia Pueblo and Finca

I just returned from my third trip to Medellin, Colombia and had the opportuntity to travel through the coffee routes on my way to a friends finca in Venecia, which is located Southwest of Antioquia.

My friend invited me to make the trip with her family, to visit the family finca; coffee farm, for those of you who may not know what a "finca" means.

Our trip began at about 6:00 am, where we met up with about thirty of her family members. Many of the younger children would be making their first trip to visit the family finca. They would also be meeting several relatives they had only heard of through family stories told back in Medellin.

We all got on the bus...

The trip to Venecia, from Itagui in Medelin, lasted about three hours. We did make a few stops along the way to pick up an aunt who lived in the small pueblo in Venecia. We made a quick stop in the town square to load up with food for the day trip.

Traveling to Venecia, I was able to see several incredible traditional pueblo homes, many with balconies decorated with different types of colorful flowers hung off the edges of the roof, along with many which were hanging off the balconies.

Surprisingly, the roads where paved for most of the trip. A few bumpy moments though, not too bad.

On the bus, family members took turns telling jokes as they tried to entertain each other during the long trip. I had a great time watching everyone enjoying themselves, sharing stories, candies, chips, and for the adults, the national drink called, Aguardiente. We finished off a gallon of Aguardiente before 7:00 am!!

I kept myself busy by taking photographs along the way, as well as capturing some of the trip on video.

When we arrived, we were greeted by family members who decided to stay, when so many others made the move to the city of Medellin, looking for work. This is definitely one big happy family, to say the least.

After arriving, I was given a tour of the coffee farm. We walked up a dusty road, to where the coffee was recently planted. Then they showed me the whole process of how coffee makes its way to your kitchen; starting from the planting to the picking of the beans, followed by the grinding, washing and drying process, before heading to local as well as the world market for sale.

We ate traditional Colombian meals throughout the day. The men drank, the women spent a lot of time in the kitchen, laughing and telling stories of their childhood meomories living on the finca. I walked into the kitchen and the women all yelled something like, "there's a man in the kitchen!" as if it was a strange occurence. I chose to eat my meals in the kitchen, watching the women cook the next meal of the day while telling more stories.

The children ran about screaming, crying, horseplaying in between picking, mangos, oranges, banannas, lemons, amongst other fresh fruits from the nearby trees. The kids loaded up sacks to take back home for family members that did not make the trip. I lifted one of the bags and was surprised at how heavy it was, especially since this particular bag belonged to a young girl who had been running around all day filling it up with the fresh fruit.

I can continue on, regarding my whole trip, but I would like to invite you to take the time and view the photos I have posted to share with everyone. If a picture is worth a thousand words, than I have a million of them for you.

Hope you enjoy my trip report along with the pictures from my journey to Venecia in Antioquia - Colombia.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

USA TODAY - Colombia works to escape past

MEDELLIN, Colombia — In a city long synonymous with murder and mayhem, the neighborhood of Santo Domingo Savio was among the most deadly precincts. Heavily armed paramilitaries and drug lords, including the notorious Pablo Escobar, dueled here with automatic weapons and savage bombings amid cinder-block homes inhabited by some of a poor country's poorest citizens.

"They killed my son, two nephews, a brother-in-law," says resident Beatrice Bernal. "It was horrible, horrible. You had to run because of the shootouts."

But today, Escobar has been moldering in his grave for almost 14 years, and this hillside neighborhood no longer symbolizes a land spiraling into anarchy. An astonishing turnaround, in fact, has slashed Medellin's murder rate to less than one-tenth the 1991 figure and planted hope where despair once thrived.

A modernistic public library, which earlier this year drew a visit from Spanish royalty, shares star billing with a gleaming cable-car line linking the poor to downtown jobs. Small cafes with wooden tables and chairs open onto sidewalks full of laughing, uniformed schoolchildren. "It's marvelous!" enthuses Bernal, 46, a transit system employee. "More than anything else because the horrible violence here has stopped."

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe trumpets the reduction in violence as he seeks to overcome doubts in the U.S. Congress about a pending trade agreement between the two countries. Though U.S.-Colombian trade is a comparatively modest $16 billion — about one-third the volume with Brazil — multinationals such as Caterpillar, (CAT) Procter & Gamble (PG) and UPS (UPS) see the market as potentially lucrative. The Bush administration also argues that the deal would benefit the United States by cementing stability in Colombia, a U.S. ally in the shadow of Venezuela's anti-American President Hugo Chávez, and by promoting legitimate commerce where illicit drugs remain a major industry. By David J. Lynch, USA TODAY

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Javier Bardem to star in 'Pablo Escobar" movie

The Yari Film Group is fast-tracking "Killing Pablo," the long-gestating biopic about the late Pablo Escobar, with Javier Bardem and Christian Bale toplining.

The Project, based on Mark Bowden's tome "Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw," has been in development for nearly five years.

Joe Carnahan ("Narc," "Smokin' Aces") remains attached to direct, with Bob Yari, Mark Gordon and Jason Zelin producing.

Bardem is slated to play Escobar, while Bale is in talks to play Major Steve Jacoby, the Delta Force commander who led the hunt for Escobar.

Escobar's rise as a leader of the drug cartel in Medellin, Colombia, began in the 1970s. After years of terrorizing police and political leaders, Escobar was targeted in 1992 by a coalition of Colombian police and military, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the CIA; he was killed the following year.

Reflecting his notoriety, Escobar served as the basis for the drug kingpin in Tom Clancy's "Clear and Present Danger"; the airport in the videogame "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" is named after him; and a story arc about a fictional biopic of the druglord -- "Medellin" -- has run through multiple seasons of HBO's "Entourage."

"Killing Pablo" was originally set up with Paramount and DreamWorks co-financing and Yari and Gordon producing via their Stratus Films banner.

"This has been a passion project of mine for years, and it will be a tentpole for our company," said Yari. "I have been patient to get this done because I wanted the ideal director and cast. It was worth the wait."
Yari told Daily Variety that "Killing Pablo" could begin shooting as early as next June if the Screen Actors Guild (which has a June 30 expiration on its current contract) has reached a deal for a new contract at that point. If a strike's imminent, production will wait until after the work stoppage.
VARIETY - Ocotober 1st, 2007 By DAVE MCNARY