Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Newfound Faith In Medellin, Colombia

Bienvenidos a Medellin, Colombia

THE IADB AT 50 Colombians and foreigners are seeing the new face of a city that symbolizes the nation’s progress. How did it happen?

Not long ago, a big white banner was draped from an abandoned building in southern Medellin. In bold black letters its message said: “This building never belonged to Pablo Escobar.” Anyone walking along El Poblado Avenue, one of the city’s main drags, could see it. The point of the building’s owners was to debunk the urban myth that the structure was one of the numerous properties belonging to Escobar, the notorious kingpin who was killed in 1993. With Escobar gone and narco-related violence no longer the city’s only stand-out feature, the banner serves as a subtle declaration of the Medellin renaissance.

This building never belonged to Pablo Escobar

True, the city still faces many challenges, like ongoing violent crime. But over the past five years the capital of Antioquia province has made so many advances that that Medellin now stands as a symbol of urban progress around the world.

Key to these changes has been massive investment in public education. Every month, it seems, city officials inaugurate a new school, library, kindergarten or park. These projects are high-profile examples of how education has become the fundamental strategy in the making of the new Medellin.

The parks offer a great place for residents to enjoy the day

The best examples of this new model are the so-called “quality schools,” 10 centers of learning that sport sophisticated architecture and are helping to cover gaps in educational coverage. In addition, projects like the Citadel of Brotherhood and the Citadel of Technology on El Volador hill will soon give the city more than 15 hectares for education, recreation, sports, pre-schools, daycare centers, senior citizens’ services, and many new spaces for cultural events.

The four library parks built in the most impoverished areas of the city have won several international prizes for architecture. But beyond their impact in barrios like San Javier or La Ladera, the library parks are providing access to quality education for the poorest of the poor.

All of this has changed people’s perceptions of politics and politicians, such as Medellin Mayor Alonso Salazar who attracted a huge number of votes. In the past, the city’s mayor was elected with about 130,000 votes. But more than 270,000 people cast ballots for Salazar. This kind of enthusiastic public backing, which first emerged for Salazar’s predecessor, Sergio Fajardo, demonstrated to the country that a mathematician and a journalist could replace traditional politicians and politics as usual. The only prerequisite, according to Salazar, was to “remove ideology from politics.”

A great view of Medellin from high above the metro cable

It’s no accident, therefore, that Medellin’s development plan has been singled out by the National Planning Department as the best in the country.

Thanks to this new confidence in city politics, Antioquia’s business class is once again showing its civic solidarity with urban projects. “It’s a modern kind of philanthropy,” Salazar says. The fact that prominent companies like Argos, Bancolombia and Nacional de Chocolates, just to name a few, continue operating in the city has brought enormous benefits to Medellin residents, especially in terms of education. For example, high-level executives from each of these companies dedicate some of their office hours to the adopt-a-public-school program which began under the Salazar administration.

Medellin Mayor Alonso Salazar takes a few gringos on a tour

What was once a form of executive resistance against the violence and narco trafficking of the '80s and '90s has emerged today as a vote of confidence in a model of city management.

This newfound faith in the future of Medellin is perhaps the main reason why the city was chosen to host the annual assembly of the Inter-American Development Bank. (Note: it’s also due to the influence of bank president Luis Alberto Moreno).

Warnings that Medellin is a no-go zone no longer apply. In a way, that white banner on the building in El Poblado symbolizes the transformation of an entire city.

Fenando Botero sculptures on display in Parque de San Antonio

Also emblematic of the changes are the Fernanado Botero bird sculptures now on display in the central plaza. In 1995, one of them was partially destroyed by a bomb that killed 23 people and injured 100. The explosion also perforated the wings of the bird sculpture and left a gaping hole in its breast. Five years later, in an act of solidarity with the new Medellin, Botero gifted the city with another bird sculpture that was positioned alongside his damaged work of art in San Antonio Park. He said it was the best way to show that the days of fear and uncertainty in Medellin had given way to a time of defiance and dignity.

Article published Semana International

To learn more about the Transformation of Medellin, Colombia

Monday, March 30, 2009

Latin Rhythms And Jazz: Andrea Tierra

The Music of Andrea Tierra

Andrea Tierra is a 27 year old singer-songwriter from Medellin, Colombia. She has been performing traditional Colombian music since the age of twelve. Andrea is the result of innovative mix of popular Latin-American rhythms with jazz, flamenco and the essence of her own poems which she brings to life on all her performances.

Her songs are progressive with a shade of irony and are often politicized against world injustice. Her contralto voice touches the hearts of the audiences with her interpretations of contemporary love songs as well as new generation songs. Andrea transcends the age gap with the intensity that only a musical leader can do.

Andrea’s talent is a family tradition that has been growing within her since her childhood. At an early age she was part of her father’s theater company as a singer and actress traveling throughout United States with great success.

The beautiful thing about jazz is that it can be fused with many different musical styles creating a whole new jazz form. As most people know jazz has a history of being fused with Latin music from Afro-Cuban to Tango.

Colombian vocalist and poet Andrea Tierra pushes the jazz musical fusion to another level by adding her Spanish poetry to the mix.

Latin-American Rythmn and Jazz artist Andrea Tierra

Tierra expresses her heart and soul both lyrically and melodically in her CD “Melodía Verde” which means “Green Melody.” The CD takes you on a musical trip through Latin America but focuses on the musical traditions of Colombia.

“The idea behind the album was to express my feelings musically and to try to make a change in the world and if possible in some ones’ heart,” says Tierra.

When asked why she chose the name “Melodía Verde” for her first CD, she said it is because of her concerned on global warming and the damage we are doing to our planet. Simply put she feels if nothing is done to correct this we are standing on a ticking time bomb.

For more information visit www.andreatierra.com

Andrea Tierra - "Melodía Verde"

Andrea Tierra - "Canto"

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Former US President Bill Clinton Arrives In Medellín For IDB Assembly

Bill Clinton Arrives in Rionegro Army Base

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton arrives in Medellin, Colombia for the annual meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank Assembly.

President Clinton and IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno will lead a public dialogue on the global economic crisis and development on Saturday, March 28, at 6:00 p.m., at Plaza Mayor.

Medellín’s Plaza Mayor Convention Center and Exhibition Hall
Medellín’s four-year-old Plaza Mayor is Colombia’s most modern convention and conference complex, situated in the city’s administrative and cultural epicenter and readily accessible from the main hotel and tourist hubs.

In the wake of the boom sparked by this facility’s construction, Medellín is emerging as a new business event destination. The city now can play host to high-profile gatherings like the recent Thirty-eighth General Assembly of the Organization of American States.

Plaza Mayor Convention Center

Framed by beautiful Medellín cityscapes, the Plaza Mayor Convention Center offers all the requisite services and amenities for the Fiftieth Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Inter-American Development Bank and Twenty-fourth Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Inter-American Investment Corporation.

Medellin Mayor, Alfonso Salazaar offers former US President Bill Clinton a violin created by Edgar Arboleda hand made in Medellin at Empresa Cultural para la Fabricación de Instrumentos Musicalesas.

Former US President Bill Clinton and Medellín Mayor Alfonso Salazaar

As founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation, the former president is working on a wide range of global issues that call for urgent action, creative solutions and measurable results. In addition to the IDB Annual Meeting, President Clinton will visit projects of the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative.

The IDB, the leading source of long-term financing for economic and social development for Latin America and the Caribbean, is marking the 50th anniversary of its establishment this year.

Discover The Transformation of Medellín, Colombia

COLOMBIA: American's Dream Comes True

Gary Parkosewich reports from Colombia.

For those looking for a little slice of heaven on Earth, look no further than the little-known country of Colombia.

My name is Gary Parkosewich and I recently graduated in journalism –– specializing in broadcasting –– from the University of Connecticut. I’m a big dreamer and I always follow my heart, and right now my heart is in Colombia

The story as to how I fell in love with Colombia started last year. I was given the opportunity to travel to Medellín in May for two weeks, and since I had heard some great things about Colombia – especially as to how safe it had become – I decided to take it.

But even though I had heard so many good things about Colombia, I was just like the average gringo and still a little skeptical about it. I knew I would still enjoy myself down in Medellín but I had absolutely no idea that I would fall in love with it the way that I did.

Medellin in the Valley of Aburra

When I first arrived in Medellín, I had realized that Colombia was the one place in my life I had been always searching for, from its breathtaking landscape, to the warm weather, to the delicious food, and to – of course – the beautiful women. Most importantly though was the genuine, warm compassion I received from Colombia’s admiringly humble people that is unlike anything I have experienced in my life, and since then, not one day has not passed where I have not stopped thinking of Colombia. The effect that the country had on me had changed me so much that it inspired me to move to this country and begin a new life here.

When I returned to the United States after those two wonderful weeks in Medellín, I remember feeling happy of the fact that I had discovered the most wonderful place in the world yet sad at the fact that I had left it. Either way, I had become obsessed with Colombia, constantly dreaming of returning. Anytime I listened to music, I no longer listened to my collection of rock music. Instead, I began listening only to vallenato, salsa and reggaeton.

And then, the worst thing that happens to almost every human being had happened to me, and for many months, I did not think that I would be able to visit Colombia again. I would spend at least a half hour every night before going to bed staring at a panoramic picture I had taken of Medellín, pretending that I was standing in that same spot again, feeling the warm air wrap itself around my body while admiring every little green curve and dent of the mountains.

The flowers bloom in the city of Medellin, Colombia

It was during this time I also tried to give-up my dream of returning to Colombia. I tried to stop listening to vallenatos, and I even considered dropping my intermediate Spanish II course, since I did not see the point of trying to study the language of a country I was no longer going to see.

And then, the strangest things started to happen: signs began appearing; doors began opening; and something in my heart began to tell me to not forget about Colombia just yet; to keep studying Spanish, to always keep Colombia in my mind, for an opportunity to return will come; just be patient. I even began seeing patterns of yellow, red and blue –– the pattern of the Colombian flag –– pop up in the most oddest of places.

Eventually, through my roommates, I began to meet friends who were friends of many latino people, some of them Colombian. Through these friends I began to bring Colombia back into my life to the fullest extent.

It was during this time period that I met my best friend, and travel companion to Colombia, Jorge Aguilar. Jorge grew up in Medellín and moved to the U.S. with his family when he was 13.

Jorge visited Medellín again for many months last year, and not only was he there at the same time I was, but he was also staying very close to the barrio (neighborhood) I had been staying in and even walked through the same little park that I used to walk through almost every morning to get breakfast. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had crossed each other’s paths during my two weeks in Medellín.

I have learned more about Spanish and Colombian culture more from Jorge than I have from any other person. Our thoughts, views and values on life are very much the same; the only major difference being is that he’s an Independiente Medellín soccer fan while I like Atlético Nacional, the cross-town rival.

But much thanks to Jorge, it wasn’t until a few days before my college graduation where I had begun to seriously consider the idea of returning to Colombia; this time with him and another good Colombian friend of mine, Randy (who is also a broadcast journalist like me, and an excellent one too) but things unfortunately didn’t work out with Randy, so it then became just me and Jorge.

There were times I began to question returning there but I began to notice that every time I had hit a brick wall, another door would suddenly open for me. I do not know exactly what is waiting for me down in Colombia, but I do know that it is something special; something that will impact my life in the most positive way.

Our itinerary goes as follows: Jorge and I will arrive in Bogotá on Oct. 16 and we’ll stay there for about a week (maybe more, maybe less; it all depends on what’s going on). Since I haven’t visited Bogotá yet, I would love to take in some of the sights, not to mention meet some new friends I have already made there. Then, once we’re done with Colombia’s capital, we’ll head to Medellín where we’ll stay for the remainder of the trip.

Once we're in Medellín, we may travel to nearby towns such as Manizales, Pereira, Montería, Guatapé, Santa Fe de Antioquia, etc. All we know is that we have lots of options and lots of adventures to look forward to. Most of our time, however, will be spent in Medellín, and I could not have asked for a better guide than Jorge who knows the city street-by-street.

Guatapé, a great weekend getaway in Medellin.

Since I graduated in journalism, specializing in broadcasting, I will be making some video news stories for my demo tape, which all will be posted here in this blog. In the meantime, I’ll also be pursuing some journalism opportunities there. My dream job, right now, would be to work as a broadcast journalist in Colombia.

My goal in life is to be happy, and from what I’ve already seen in Colombia, I already know that I can live a very happy life there. Money, to me, isn’t as important, and that’s the way it is for many Colombians. I remember one good man say to me in Medellín, “Soy pobre pero soy feliz en mi corazón” (I’m poor but I’m happy in my heart), and to me, that’s the way life should be lived.

Articulo en español, (haga clic aquí)

Gary Parkosewich en Noticias RCN en Ingles
Gary Parkosewich, es el nuevo presentador de noticias RCN en inglés que viajó desde Connecticut Estados Unidos para cosechar éxitos en Colombia “me siento muy feliz de estar en Colombia compartiendo al mundo las noticias locales, para mí no fue difícil tomar la decisión de empezar este nuevo reto en mi vida porque me encanta Colombia, es sin lugar a dudas uno de los mejores lugares para vivir.

El gringo más colombiano de Nuestra Tele ahora celebra con su nuevo equipo de trabajo el gran torrente de visitas diarias través de nuestro portal www.canalrcn.com. y TVCOLOMBIA llegando a más televidentes a través de dos emisiones una a las 11:30 am después de Cura para el alma y la otra después de Francisco el matemático a las 6:00 pm, Bienvenido Gary a Nuestra Tele.

Discover The Transformation Of Medellin, Colombia

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tourism In Medellín, Colombia

According to government figures, about 1 million international tourists visit Colombia every year. Officials are expected to see that double in the coming years as word gets out from travelers returning home, spreading the word about Colombia's picturesque landscapes, tropical rainforest, snow-capped Andean peaks towering over countless valleys throughout Colombia. In addition, its beautiful Caribbean and Pacific coasts, with plenty of warm beaches are other great destinations. A traveler's dream come true.

The city of Medellín and the Antioquia region are the second most important economic and industrial hubs in the country and the epicenter of Colombian entrepreneurship.

Medellín is synonymous with opportunity, a stellar example of social urbanism that makes every resident part of the life of the city and turns the city itself into an economic, education, tourist, cultural, sports, and research hub.

Today one of Colombia’s —and indeed Latin America’s— safest cities, Medellín has taken its place again in the world and the global community.

Having captivated world attention, Medellín is being touted as a not-to-be-missed destination for those who seek to understand the heart of Colombia. Foreign visitor arrivals have soared in the past three years, as has the number of national and international events. In 2008 the city played host to the successful Thirty-eighth General Assembly of the OAS; in 2009 it is preparing to welcome the Governors of the IDB and others who will gather for the IDB’s Annual Meeting, which this year coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the formal establishment of this organization, which has been a strategic partner and promoter of major development projects in Medellín.

Today Colombia and its favorite city, Medellín, are engaged in a spectacular economic and social transformation. Decorated by many beautiful flowers, this supremely favored land awaits your visit soon.

Department: Antioquia
Departmental population: 5´911.851
Department size: 63,612 sq. km
Geography: Nestled in the Andes Mountains, traversed north-south by the West and Central cordilleras
Population of Medellín: 2.223.660
Temperature range: 18ºC to 28ºC / 64ºF to 82.4ºF
CGeographic setting of the city: In a valley ringed by mountains
City size: 382 sq. km

To learn more about Tourism in Medellin, Colombia: click here

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton To Attend IDB Annual Meeting in Medellín, Colombia

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton to attend IDB Annual Meeting in Medellín, Colombia

Bill Clinton will take part in the annual meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank in Medellín, Colombia in late March, the IDB announced today.

President Clinton and IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno will lead a public dialogue on the global economic crisis and development on Saturday, March 28, at 6:00 p.m., at Plaza Mayor.

The event will be held on the eve of the annual meeting of the Bank's Board of Governors, which represents the IDB’s 48 member countries.

“Bill Clinton’s blend of pragmatism and optimism has allowed him to find answers to seemingly unsolvable problems, such as bringing down the costs of drugs for AIDS victims and making them available to the poorest of the poor,” said Moreno.

“In these troubled times, his insight may be a source of inspiration for our region’s leaders, who are struggling to protect the progress achieved against poverty over the past few years,” Moreno added.

As founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation, the former president is working on a wide range of global issues that call for urgent action, creative solutions and measurable results. In addition to the IDB Annual Meeting, President Clinton will visit projects of the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI).

CGSGI is an innovative partnership between the Clinton Foundation, the private sector, governments, local communities, and other NGOs to increase the scope, scale, improvement, and sustainability of social and economic development efforts in areas where poverty is widespread.

The IDB, the leading source of long-term financing for economic and social development for Latin America and the Caribbean, is marking the 50th anniversary of its establishment this year.

Discover The Transformation of Medellin, Antioquia - Colombia.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

BIENVENIDO a Colombia!

Colombia: An investment and business destination

By virtue of its singular geostrategic location Colombia is a crossroads of the Americas, the gateway to South America, and a pathway for trade with U.S., Caribbean, Latin American, Asian, and European markets.

Three majestic mountain ranges—part of the immense Andean cordillera—stretching almost to the ocean traverse the spectacular Colombian landscape.

In Colombia, whose shores are bathed by both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, lies much of the Amazon Basin, the world’s largest tropical forest through which flows the mighty Amazon River, called the “lungs of the earth” for its incalculable importance to humanity.

Come and experience this land, the second most biodiverse country on earth and the world’s second largest exporter of cut flowers. Colombia boasts more varieties of orchids and birds, amphibians, butterflies, and palm trees than any other place on the planet; ranks second for number of freshwater fish species; has the largest open-pit coal mine; is the source of the world’s most exquisite emeralds, and produces Juan Valdez coffee, the smoothest and most aromatic in the world.

We invite you to explore our rich, diverse culture and history. A warm Colombian welcome awaits you

Colombia is attracting the eyes of the global economy, drawn by its sustained economic growth in recent years, its development dynamic, the quality of life of its people, and the physical and social transformation of its cities. The credit for these advances goes to President Álvaro Uribe Vélez’s efficient policies centered on the virtuous circle of Security > Confidence > Private Investment > Social Investment.

The result has been four straight years of economic growth rates topping 4 percent as the reigning climate of security has buoyed domestic demand in particular.

The nation’s diversified economic base, sturdy political and legal systems, preferential access to other markets, and healthy foreign investment inflows make it a top choice of the business community today.

en Espanol:
País situado en el centro de la tierra; punto de convergencia del hemisferio; puerta de entrada a Suramérica y zona de conexión con los mercados de los Estados Unidos, el Caribe, América Latina, Asia y Europa, todo gracias a su ubicación geoestratégica.

Un país sorprendente, con 3 imponentes cordilleras que forman parte de la gigantesca cadena de los Andes y cuyas montañas están muy cerca del mar.

Colombia cuenta con costas sobre los océanos Atlántico y Pacífico y es dueña de gran parte de la Cuenca Amazónica, la selva más grande del mundo recorrida por el inmenso río Amazonas, un pulmón verde de invaluable valor para la humanidad.

Conozca el segundo país en biodiversidad y en exportación de flores, el primero en variedad de orquídeas y pájaros, de anfibios, de mariposas y de palmas; segundo en especies de peces de agua dulce; el que posee la más grande mina de carbón a cielo abierto, las más bellas esmeraldas y el café de Juan Valdéz, el más suave y aromático del mundo.

Bienvenidos a la alegría y el calor humano de los colombianos, a una cultura y una historia llena de riqueza y diversidad.

Bienvenido a Colombia video en Espanol

Friday, March 20, 2009

Five Best Places To Live In A Slow Economy: #1 Medellín, Antioquia - Colombia

The Five Best Cities to Live in 2009 if the Economy Keeps Tanking.

Hard times at home necessitate careful planning for successful live-abroad experiences. Here are a few destinations to weather the current economic downturn.

1. Medellin, yes in Colombia!
Your mother might not know that it is safe to travel in Colombia these days (here are 10 reasons why it is, if you want to show her.) but everyone else seems to have gotten the message.

There are good reasons backing the hype. The weather is almost always delightful in the City of Eternal Spring. The nightlife, especially in La Zona Rosa surrounding Parque de Lleras rivals any in Latin America. The nightclubs further afield are worth the cab fare, though check with locals to find out which spot is currently in vogue. The increase in backpackers has led to many more hostels. Casa Kiwi currently claims the title for best party digs.

Closer economic ties with the United States should theoretically increase demand for English teachers, and though wages are generally low, so are the rents. Medellin is home to several major universities, and with the large student population there are always rooms for let in budget apartments. Entrepreneurs will find a can-do business climate and a people overjoyed to have the dark days of the cartels and the FARC behind them.

The list continues...
2. New Orleans
3. Saigon
4. Vilnius
5. Cape Town

Discover The Transformation Of Medellín, Antioquia - Colombia.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

IDB To Showcase Medellín's Urban Renewal

IDB 50th Anniversary Meeting to Showcase Medellín Urban Renewal
by Anastasia Moloney - March 17, 2009

When 4,000 foreign visitors, top bankers, and member heads of state of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) descend on Medellín next week for the bank's annual meeting and 50th anniversary, they will encounter a city very different to the one it was two decades ago.

Medellín, Colombia’s second city and industrial hub, has transformed in recent years. From a city with the highest murder rate in the world in 1991 (a staggering 381 per 100,000 inhabitants) and once home to the world’s most powerful cartel headed by Pablo Escobar, Medellín has now become a leading example of urban regeneration in Latin America and a model for other cities in the region to follow.

Medellín’s makeover started with the then-mayor Sergio Fajardo five years ago. Fajardo, a mathematician and currently a presidential candidate, made a commitment to improve the lives of the city’s poor through a series of bold infrastructure projects and public works programs. He believes architecture is a tool that can bring about social transformation by bridging the gap between rich and poor. Fajardo’s signature idea is that provoking and cutting-edge architecture constructed by renowned architects gives people dignity and fosters respect, community sprit and civic pride. Moreover, architecture can build hope.

The results over a short space of time are impressive. Dotted across the city’s marginalized and once ignored slum areas are state-of-the art public libraries, landscaped parks, new schools, and kindergartens. Perhaps the most eye-catching improvement is the city’s much prized and acclaimed cable car transport system—MetroCable. The cable car, which resembles those used in alpine skiing resorts, ferries people living in poor neighborhoods lying on the mountain slopes to the city center. Garbage dumps have been transformed into thriving community centers and once abandoned public squares are filled with fountains and sculptures.

Medellín is also home to EPM, the country’s leading public utilities company owned by the local municipality. In tune with the progressive and visionary vibe felt today in Medellín, EPM has come up with a simple, yet effective, way to encourage poor customers to pay for their gas and electricity bills. EPM realized that to get low-income households to pay their utility bills, the company would have to adapt to the paying culture and patterns of marginalized neighborhoods. That means understanding that poor customers live precariously day by day and don’t have the means to pay a hefty utility bill at the end of each month. Instead of sending monthly bills, EPM allows its poor customers to pay as they go and top up their credit.Customers can pay via a slot telephone or place coins into a meter whenever they like. “It’s not that the poor are bad payers. They can pay, but just not in a lump sum at the end of the month, so we’ve adapted our billing systems to accommodate their spending patterns,” explained EPM’s General Manager, Federico Restrepo. In such a way, EPM has been able to attract thousands of new customers from low-income neighborhoods.

It’s initiatives like this and the city’s emphasis on urban renewal that is placing Medellín in the spotlight. The IDB assembly is being billed as the most important event taking place in Medellín for decades and an ideal opportunity for the city, and Colombia, to showcase its positive and progressive side. It’s hard to see visitors coming away disappointed.

Discover The Transformation of Medellín, Colombia.

SOPETRAN National Paragliding Tournament

Paragliding Tournament: Sopetrán, Antioquia, March 20-23, 2009

The skies over Sopetrán, Antioquia this weekend will see more than seventy of the best paragliding pilots from all over Colombia who are expected to arrive for the second national paragliding tournament this year.

The exciting sport of paragliding competition has gained much popularity in the country in the past few years, especially after the success of the San Felix tournament in 2007. Héctor Hugo Vásquez, Juan Cano, Daniel Vallejo and Liliana Morales, among others, stand out as some of the top paragliding pilots in Colombia.

The sporting event, which promises to be a festival complete with traditional Colombia food, music, and dancing, has been organized by the Cross Country Group and Halcones Clubs of Medellin, along with Liliana Morales, who is one of the most passionate paragliding pilots in all of Colombia.

For more info on the four day paragliding tournament: Parapente en Medellin

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"The Accountant's Story" by Roberto Escobar

Pablo Escobar encircled by a friendly crowd in Medellin.

Inside the Violent World of the Medellin Cartel
By Roberto Escobar with David Fisher
Grand Central Publishing Hardcover Original
Publication date: February 25, 2009

You Are Invited To Attend a Video Press Conference with Roberto Escobar;Brother of the Infamous Drug Kingpin Pablo Escobar and Author of The Accountant's Story

Roberto Escobar Will Be Speaking Live (Via Video) From Colombia and Will Be Available To Answer Questions About His Book, on Wednesday, March 18, 2009, 11:00AM To 12:00PM At The Core Club, 66 East 55th Street Screening Room

* Co-Author David Fisher Will Be At The Core Club For A Q % A.

RSVP: Jimmy Franco, Grand Central Publishing.
212-364-1321; jimmy.franco@hbgusa.com

The sign reads: This building never belonged to Pablo Escobar.

THE ACCOUNTANT'S STORY is Pablo Escobar's story in the words of one of his closest confidants, his brother Roberto. Written with David Fisher, Roberto shares the brutality of the Medellin cartel, the dicey nature of dealing with American DEA forces and the CIA, along with the problems the Escobars faced when going up against the Colombian organized mafia, even Pablo's moments of kindness and compassion towards less fortunate countrymen in Colombia. It's all here. Roberto knows it all because he was the accountant.

Arguably the most successful criminal operation in history, Roberto Escobar was present during the rise and demise of Medellin Cartel. At a rate of smuggling 15 tons of coke into the United States per day, Fortune Magazine once estimated the cartel to be worth in excess of $6 billion. Roberto recounts the times they spent $1000 a week just purchasing rubber bands to wrap the stacks of cash since they had more illegal money than they could deposit in banks; the purchase of six Russian submarines and thirteen 727 planes from Eastern Airlines, upon the company's bankruptcy, to aid in delivering the cartel's goods.

Pablo Escobar's grave is a popular attraction in Medellin.

As the keeper of the books, Roberto was there to keep track of every penny. Now in his 60's Roberto is free after serving 10 years in a Colombian jail to tell the story and offer insight into the harsh world of money, coke, and crime. Even to offer insight to the fact that although many people view his brother Pablo Escobar as a monster, thousands still visit his grave every year to mourn him, and revere him as a savior.

The home where Pablo Escobar was shot to death as he jumped out the window to avoid capture by the police, located at Calle 79a #45D-94 Barrio Los Olivos, near Estadio Girardot.

For the first time ever, Roberto Escobar, gives precise details from a unique perspective. The surviving brother of the infamous Pablo Escobar tells the real inside story of the Medellin cartel to set the record straight, once and for all.

The Accountant's Story by Robert Escobar, Available on Amazon.com

This short documentary portrays the duality of Pablo Escobar's character through the eyes of the people he helped out of poverty and through the eyes of the government who exposed him as a murderous druglord. Fabio Castillo, a journalist who has been investigating Escobar's life and story for the last thirty years shares his findings from Medellin, Colombia.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Taste Of Colombia: International Flavors


Frijoles Paisas is a common dish from my region of Antioquia. I’ve eaten it all of my life and it is definitely one of my favorite dishes. Few meals are as truly Colombian as this. We serve it over rice or as part of our famous Colombian dish “Bandeja Paisa” which is a huge meal including, paisa pinto beans, white rice, ripe plantain, Colombian chorizo, avocado, chicharron (pork fritters) ground beef and fried egg. This dish is served in most casual Colombian restaurants around the world. If you are on a diet, this is the best reason to break it. In this post, I included directions to make the recipe in a regular pot or in a slow cooker.


3 cups pinto beans
½ pound pork hocks
6 cups water
1 cup shredded carrots
½ teaspoon salt
½ green plantain, cuted into ¼- inch


1 tablespoon chopped onions
2 cups diced tomatoes
¼ cup chopped scallions
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ teaspoon ground cumin


1. Wash the beans and soak overnight in cold water. Drain the beans and place in a large pot and add the water and pork hocks. Over medium-high heat, bring the beans to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the beans to cook until almost tender, approximately 2 hours.

2. When the beans are cooking, prepare the guiso. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat, add the tomatoes, onions, scallions, salt, garlic, cilantro and ground cumin and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

3. When the beans are almost tender, add the guiso, plantains, carrots and salt. Cover and cook for another hour or until the beans are fully cooked. (Add additional water as necessary).


For the slow cooker, use the same ingredients except use just 4 cups water instead of 6.

1. Wash the beans and soak overnight in cold water. Drain the beans and place in a slow cooker, add 4 cups water and pork hocks and cook on high for about 2 hours.

2. Follow step 2 in the regular pot recipe.

3. Add the guiso, plantains, carrots and salt then cover and cook for another 3 hours. Taste for salt and serve.

For more great recipes visit "My Colombian Recipes."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Hard Rock Cafe In Medellin - Coming Soon!

Hard Rock Cafe coming soon to Medellin, Colombia!

Hard Rock Cafe has announced the opening of a new restuarant in Medellin, Colombia for later this year.

Hard Rock Cafe Medellin 2009!