A bit of history from Colombia


With over 46 million people, Colombia is the 27th largest country in the world by population and has the second largest population of any Spanish-speaking country in the world, after Mexico. Colombia is a middle power, with the fourth largest economy in Latin America, and the third largest in South America.

Colombia is located in South America
The Colombia flag is based on the  "Gran Colombian flag" which served as the national flag of the First Republic of Venezuela (1811-1812). The Gran Colombian flag was used as the model for the current flags of Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. According to the current interpretation, the flag colors signify:

      - Yellow: represents all the gold found in the Colombian land and all its wealth not only referring to gold but also to its diverse nature and its incredible people.
      - Blue: represents the seas on Colombia's shores, the rivers that run through, and the sky above.
      - Red: represents the blood spilled for Colombia's independence and also the effort of Colombian people, the determination and the perseverance. It represents that although Colombia's people have had to struggle they have thrived.

Colombia whose land was discovered and named after Christopher Columbus is the product of the interacting and mixing of the White European conquestadors and colonist with the different Amerindian peoples of Colombia. Later the African element was introduced into the coastal parts of Colombia as slaves.With the passing of time Colombia has become a primarily Mestizo/White country due to limited immigration from Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, with the minorities being: the Mulattoes and Pardos living primarily in the coastal areas; and pockets of Amerindians living around the rural areas and the Amazonian Basin regions of the country. According to the 2005 census, 49% of the population is Mestizo, or of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry. Approximately 37% is of European ancestry (predominantly Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German). About 10.6% is of African ancestry, whereas Indigenous Amerindians comprise 3.4% of the population.

The climate is tropical along coast and eastern plains; cold in the highlands; periodic droughts. Colombia is an equatorial country, so there are no seasons in the common sense of the word. Temperatures do not vary much throughout the year. What Colombians normally refer to as the winter is the rainy season.

Coffee production in Colombia has a reputation as producing mild, well balanced coffee beans. Colombia's average annual coffee production of 11.5 million bags is the third total highest in the world, after Brazil and Vietnam; though highest in terms of the arabica bean. The coffee tradition is the most representative symbol of national culture in Colombia, for which Colombia has gained worldwide recognition.

There are a number of UN World Heritage Sites located in Colombia:

    * Cartagena
    * Los Katíos National Park
    * Malpelo Island
    * Santa Cruz de Mompox
    * San Agustín, Huila
    * Tierradentro

The Spanish Conquer and discovery of the new lands:

The territory that became Colombia was first visited by Europeans when the first expedition of Alonso de Ojeda (born in Cuenca, Spain), Spanish navigator and conquistador, arrived at the Cabo de la Vela and Coquibacoa in 1499.

Ojeda trips
Ojeda travelled through Guyana, Venezuela, Trinidad, Tobago, Curaçao, Aruba and Colombia. He is famous for having named Venezuela, which he explored during his first two expeditions, for having been the first European to visit Guyana, Colombia, and Lake Maracaibo. Ojeda was in company of Juan de la Cosa who had played an an important role in the first and second voyage of Christopher Columbus to the West Indies, since he was the owner and captain of the Santa María. De la Cosa was the first pilot for the expedition of Alonso de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci, and with them was among the first to set foot on the South American mainland on the Gulf of Paria. At the same time they explored the coast from Essequibo River to Cape Vela.

In 1500, de la Cosa, Rodrigo de Bastidas and Vasco Núñez de Balboa explored the lands of present-day Colombia and Panama. He explored further along the South American coast to the isthmus of Panama.

In 1509 Juan de la Cosa (born in Cantabria, Spain), a navigator and cartographer, placed himself under the command of Alonso de Ojeda and set out for his seventh and last trip in the New World. He carried three hundred colonists on four ships. They went with Francisco Pizarro into de Ojeda's territory and landed at Cartagena against the warnings of de la Cosa, who proposed they disembark on the more peaceful coast of the Gulf of Uraba. Upon leaving the ship there was a scuffle between the Spanish and the natives on the Bay of Calamar. Proud of the Spanish victory, de Ojeda decided to delve further into the forest to the settlement of Turbaco. When they arrived at the town, they were attacked by the natives and de la Cosa was shot with poison arrows and killed by Indians. Only De Ojeda and another man managed to escape and ran to the bay where he told a passing expedition led by Diego de Nicuesa of the murderous natives. Nicuesa was worried by Ojeda’s losses so he gave him arms and men. The two men then forgot their differences and joined forces to seek revenge on the people of Turbaco, who were massacred to a man. Ojeda continued travelling along the coast of Nueva Andalucía toward the southwest and eventually he returned to Santo Domingo. He lived out the last five years of his life in Santo Domingo. He later withdrew to the Monasterio de San Francisco where he died in 1515.

Juan de la Cosa made several maps of which the only survivor is the famous map of the world, the Mappa Mundi of 1500 (kept at Museo Naval of Madrid). It is the oldest known European cartographic representation of the New World.

Part of the 1500 Mappa Mundi  by De la Cosa
Of special interest on this map is the outline of Cuba, which Christopher Columbus never believed to be an island. Walkenaer and Alexander von Humboldt were the first to point out the great importance of this chart. It is now in the Museo Naval in Madrid.

The Spanish made several attempts to settle along the north coast of today's Colombia in the early 16th century, but their first permanent settlement, at Santa Marta, was not established until 1525 by Rodrigo de Bastidas. He named the city Santa Marta because it was on Saint Martha's feast day (July 29th) that the city was founded.

Burgos laws of 1513 try to prevent the abuse of indians but they were not much successful. Although slave-trading was condemned by Pope Paul III and later labeled "supreme villainy" by Pius IX, there were fortunes to be made and it continued to flourish. In this regard some people tried to change the life of the indians and slaves, as Peter Claver (Spanish: San Pedro Claver Corberó)  who was a Jesuit who due to his life and work became the patron saint of slaves, of Colombia, and of African Americans.  During the 40 years of his ministry in Colombia it is estimated he personally baptized around 300,000 people.

Cartagena was founded on June 1, 1533 by Spanish commander Pedro de Heredia, in the former location of the indigenous Caribbean Calamarí village. Most of Heredia´s sailors were from Cartagena, Spain, a city founded by the Phoenicians in 228 BC and also a seaport. Cartagena grew rapidly, fueled first by the gold in the tombs of the Sinú Culture, and later by trade. Cartagena will be a major trading port, especially for precious metals. Gold and silver from the mines in the New Granada and Peru were loaded in Cartagena on the galleons bound for Spain via Havana. Cartagena will be also a black slave port; Cartagena and Veracruz, (Mexico), were the only cities authorized to trade African slaves. The first slaves were transported by Pedro de Heredia and were used as cane cutters to open roads, as laborers to destroy the tombs of the aboriginal population of Sinú, and to construct buildings and fortresses. The agents of the Portuguese company Cacheu sold slaves from Cartagena for working in mines in Venezuela, the West Indies, the Nuevo Reino de Granada and the Viceroyalty of Perú.

El Dorado (Spanish for "the golden one") is a legend that began with the story of a South American tribal chief who covered himself with gold dust and would dive into a lake of pure mountain water. Imagined as a place, El Dorado became a kingdom, an empire, the city of this legendary golden king.

Muisca raft (discovered in 1969) representing the ceremony of the legend of El Dorado, Gold Museum, Bogota. The figure represents the ceremony of investiture of the Muisca chief, which used to take place at Lake Guatavita. During this ritual, the heir to the chieftainship (zipa) covered his body with gold dust and jumped into the lake along with gold offerings and emeralds to the gods.
Starting in 1536, the conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada (born in Granada, Spain), a Spanish Lawyer, explorer  and conquistador born in a family of conversos, hoping to discover the dreamed El Dorado explored the extensive highlands of the interior of the region, by following the Magdalena River into the Andean cordillera. Only 166 men out of his 900 survived, suffering terribly in the jungle: they were forced to eat snakes, lizards, frogs, and even the leather torn from their harnesses and the scabbards of their swords.

He finally reached the  lands of the Muisca (at the site of present day Bogotá). At the arrival of the conquerors, the Muisca have been estimated to consist of 110,000 to two million people. The Muisca had two rulers. One, the Zipa Tisquesusa, ruled in Bogotá; the other, the Zaque Nemequene, ruled in Tunja. Taking advantage of a war between the two chiefdoms, Quesada's force subdued Bogotá and then successfully attacked Tunja. At this point it was time to establish a colony so that the earth itself might properly belong to Quesada and his men. They chose a spot next to the towering peaks of the east, where the land was high and the rains would quickly run off, where the mountains would protect them from attackers and the jungles below. Quesada placed his right foot on the bare earth and said simply, “I take possession of this land in the name of the most sovereign emperor, Charles V.” The settlement was at first called New City of Granada, but later they changed it to Santa Fé de Bogotá, now known simply as Bogotá, from the chibcha language word Bacatá, the name of one of the two Cacicazgos of the Muisca Confederation.

Quesada, after nearly a dozen years of wandering disconsolately through the gaming halls of Europe, returned to New Granada in 1550. Here, he settled down and for nearly twenty years. He lived the life of a respected colonist and became the most influential man in the colony. He protected his fellow colonists from the severity of the officials and restrained the comenderos (large landholders) greed. But his own desire for wealth and gold continued to live inside him.

Quesada eventually reached (San Fernando de) Atabapo at the confluence of the Guaviare and the Orinoco (in December 1571), any further movement requiring the construction of ships. He therefore dejectedly returned to Bogotá, arriving in December 1572 with only 25 Spaniards, 4 natives, 18 horses and 2 priests. The expedition had been one of the most expensive disasters on record. After a brief period of service in a frontier command (during which he suppressed an Indian uprising) Quesada, afflicted with leprosy, overcome with despair at his debts, owing more than 60 thousand ducats, was forced to seek a milder climate and died quietly, aged 83, in La Suesca, a village of New Granada.

In 1535 explorer Sebastián de Belalcázar entered the Cauca River Valley, founding the southwestern Colombian cities of Santiago de Cali in 1536, and Pasto and Popayán (next in importance after Quito) in 1537.

The New Kingdom of Granada (Spanish: Nuevo Reino de Granada) was the name given to the provinces in northern South America governed by the president of the Audiencia of Bogotá, an area corresponding mainly to modern-day Colombia and parts of Venezuela.  The region was then under the Viceroyalty of Peru, which was being organized at the time. But the king also ordered the establishment of an audiencia, a type of superior court that combined executive and judicial authority, at Santa Fé de Bogotá in 1549.

Peru Viceroyalty

[Peter Claver (26 June 1580 – 8 September 1654) was a famous priest in Colombia. He was born in Verdú (Catalonia, Spain)  in 1581 into a devoutly Catholic in a prosperous farming family in the Catalan village of Verdú. Later, as a student at the University of Barcelona, Claver was noted for his intelligence and piety. After two years of study there, Claver wrote these words in the notebook he kept throughout his life: "I must dedicate myself to the service of God until death, on the understanding that I am like a slave." Claver volunteered for the Spanish colonies and was sent to the New Kingdom of Granada, where he arrived in the port city of Cartagena in 1610. Required to wait six years to be ordained as a priest while he did his theological studies, he lived in Jesuit houses at Tunja and Bogotá. During those preparatory years, he was deeply disturbed by the harsh treatment and living conditions of the black slaves who were brought from Africa. By this time, the slave trade had been established in the Americas for about a century. Local natives were considered not physically suited to work in the gold and silver mines and this created a demand for blacks from Angola and Congo. Cartagena was a slave-trading hub. 10,000 slaves poured into the port yearly, crossing the Atlantic from West Africa under conditions so foul that an estimated one-third died in transit. Although the slave trade was condemned by Pope Paul III and Urban VIII had issued a papal decree prohibiting slavery,(later called "supreme villainy" by Pope Pius IX), it was a lucrative business and continued to flourish.
San Pedro Claver
Claver saw the slaves as fellow Christians, encouraging others to do so as well. During his 40 years of ministry it is estimated that he personally catechized and baptized 300,000 slaves. He would then follow up on them to ensure that as Christians they received their Christian and civil rights. His mission extended beyond caring for slaves, however. He preached in the city square, to sailors and traders and conducted country missions, returning every spring to visit those he had baptized, ensuring that they were treated humanely. During these missions, whenever possible he avoided the hospitality of planters and overseers; instead, he would lodge in the slave quarters.

Pope Leo XIII declared on the occasion of his canonization that "No life, except the life of Christ, has moved me so deeply as that of Peter Claver".

In 1586, Sir Francis Drake, arrived with a powerful fleet in Cartagena de Indias and quickly took the city. The governor, Pedro Fernández de Busto, fled with the Archbishop to the neighboring town of Turbaco, and from there negotiated the costly ransom for the city: 107,000 Spanish pesos or "pieces of eight." Drake had destroyed one-quarter of the city, the developing Palace of the Township, and the recently finished cathedral.

Sir Francis Drake in Cartagena de Indias 1585.
From a hand-colored engraving, by Baptista Boazio, 1589
On February 5, 1610, the Catholic Monarchs established the Inquisition Holy Office Court in Cartagena by a royal decree issued by King Philip II. With Lima in Peru, it was one of the three seats of the Inquisition in the Americas. The Palace of Inquisition, finished in 1770, preserves its original features of colonial times.

 On 2 November 1675, the queen consort Mariana of Austria founded the "Town of Our Lady of Candelaria of Medellín" (Villa de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de Medellín) in the Aná region, which today corresponds to the center of the city (east-central zone) and first describes the region as "Medellín".

On May 6, 1697 a successful attack by the French on the fortified city of Cartagena de Indias occurred. This was called The Raid on Cartagena. During the War of the Grand Alliance,Bernard Desjean (Baron de Pointis) active in the Caribbean from the beginning of the war, was able to convince King Louis XIV of France to let him try a daring attack on the richest city of the region, Cartagena, in present-day Colombia.He received command of a fleet of seven capital ships, three frigates, and some smaller vessels. The squadron left from Brest, France in January and arrived at Saint-Domingue in the West Indies on March 3rd. The renowned Spanish defences were not what they had once been, and Pointis conquered both fortresses which defended Cartagena relatively easily, losing only sixty men. Between May 6th and 24th, the French plundered the city, accumulating loot valued at ten to twenty million livres. Pointis then set sail directly for France, cheating his buccaneer allies of their promised share of the loot. Outraged, the buccaneers returned and plundered the city once more, this time untempered by the French regular soldiers, in an orgy of rape, extortion and murder. On his return voyage to France, Pointis managed to avoid the English admiral John Nevell, whose squadron had been diverted from Cadiz, Spain, to pursue the French privateer. After a three-day chase, Nevell had captured only one ship. Unfortunately for him, this was a hospital ship infested with yellow fever, which now spread through the English and Dutch fleets. The disease killed 1,300 English sailors, six captains, and Admiral Nevell himself; only one captain in the Dutch fleet survived. The French did not escape unscathed, as yellow fever spread through their fleet, too, killing hundreds of sailors. However, Pointis made it back to France and gave Louis XIV his share of two million livres. The rest of the loot made Pointis an immensely rich man.

  1697 Raid of Cartagena commemorative plaque 
The reconstruction after the Raid on Cartagena was initially slow, but with the end of the War of the Spanish Succession around 1711 and the competent administration of Juan Díaz de Torrezar Pimienta, the walls were rebuilt, the forts reorganized and restored, and the public services and buildings reopened. By 1710, the city was fully recovered. At the same time, the slow but steady reforms of the restricted trade policies in the Spanish Empire encouraged the establishment of new trade houses and private projects. During the reign of Philip V of Spain the city had many new public works projects either begun or completed, among them the new fort of San Fernando, the Hospital of the Obra Pía and the full paving of all the streets and the opening of new roads.

In 1717, the Viceroyalty of New Granada was originally created, and then it was temporarily removed, to finally be reestablished in 1739. The Viceroyalty had Santa Fé de Bogotá as its capital. This Viceroyalty included some other provinces of northwestern South America which had previously been under the jurisdiction of the Viceroyalties of New Spain or Peru and correspond mainly to today's Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama. So, Bogotá became one of the principal administrative centers of the Spanish possessions in the New World, along with Lima and Mexico City.

Viceroyalty of New Granada and today existing country borders

In the 18th century the largest cities of the the Viceroyalty of New Granada were

    Cartagena de Indias – 154,304
    Santa Fé de Bogotá – 108,533
    Popayan – 56,783
    Santa Marta – 49,830
    Tunja – 43,850
    Mompóx – 24,332

Jorge de Villalonga (1665-1735), a Spanish lawyer, was general and the first official viceroy of New Granada, from November 25, 1719 to May 11, 1724. The viceroy had specific orders to clean up the disorder and corruption rampant among the royal officials of the colony. In 1722 he brought charges against the accountant Domingo de Mena. Nevertheless, his administration was known for its arbitrariness and corruption. Villalonga's instructions also specified that he was to prevent the development of wine-making and textile industries in the colony, in order to protect the Spanish industries from the competition. In November 1720, Spanish forces attacked the long-time Dutch settlement in Tucacas, on the coast of what is now Venezuela. This was a center of the contraband trade. It was largely destroyed by the Spanish, including a synagogue that was located there.

The Viceroyalty of New Granadawas abolished on November 5, 1723 after some reports were given to the king about the bad economic situation with debts and expenses. But in 1740 the Viceroyalty of the Nuevo Reino de Granada (New Granada) was reestablished as a viceroyalty, for the same reasons as it had originally been established — large distances, growing population, tax collection, defense, and administrative control. In August 1739 Sebastián de Eslava was named the first viceroy of this second incarnation, with express instructions from the Crown to defend the colony against British attacks.

On November 21, 1739 British Admiral Edward Vernon captured Portobelo, on the Atlantic side of the Isthmus of Panama, which was part of the new colony. This was just before Eslava's arrival in Cartagena as viceroy of the colony. After this success, Vernon turned his attention to Cartagena. On March 13, 1741 he blockaded the port with 51 warships, 135 transports, 2,000 cannon and more than 28,000 men, possibly the strongest fleet ever assembled up to this time. The city was defended by the Spanish Admiral Blas de Lezo, who had at his command 3,000 Spanish troops, 600 Indian archers, and six Ships of the Line. He also relied on his careful preparations and the sturdy fortifications of the city.

On the night of April 19, as part of the battle of Cartagena de Indias, the British began a major assault on the wall of the fort of San Felipe. However, the attackers soon found that their scaling ladders were shorter than the walls they were attacking. The British were unable to advance and impeded from retreating by the equipment they carried. The Spanish opened fire on them, and then counterattacked outside the walls with bayonets. The carnage was great, and the remaining British soldiers were forced to remain on board their ships, with provisions running out.

British attack on Cartagena de Indias by Luis Fernández Gordillo (1937)
Vernon finally had to raise the blockade and return to Jamaica. Eight thousand. British were said to have died, against only 1,000 Spanish. Blas de Lezo y Olavarrieta, who had already lost a leg, an eye and an arm in other battles, lost his life in this one, dying of disease.

Blas de Lezo y Olavarrieta (3 February 1689 – 7 September 1741), also known as "Patapalo" (Pegleg), and later as "Mediohombre" (Half-man) for the many wounds suffered in his long military life, was a Spanish admiral, and one of the greatest strategists and commanders in the history of the Spanish Navy. He is best known for his successful defence of Cartagena in 1741.

Blas de Lezo y Olavarrieta
Blas de Lezo y Olavarrieta already fought  in 1704 in the War of Spanish Succession as a crew member in the Franco-Spanish fleet which threw back the combined forces of England and Netherlands at the Battle of Vélez Málaga. There Lezo lost his left leg. He received a cannon-shot and he get his leg amputated under the knee without anesthesia and without saying a word or making a noise. The defense of Toulon cost him his left eye. In 1714 he lost his right arm in the Siege of Barcelona. Later in this campaign, at the head of one frigate, he captured eleven British ships, including the Stanhope. While it is known that he died in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, his burial site remains lost to history.

During his administration, viceroy Sebastián de Eslava founded hospitals and towns, constructed roads, promoted the pacification of the Motilones Indians, and contributed arms, money and provisions to defend some cities. He built 20 churches, repaired and enlarged others, protected the established missions and organized those of Darién, in Panama. He improved the finances of the colony and the administration of justice.

José Solís y Folch de Cardona, grande de España and knight of the Order of Santiago (February 4, 1716, Madrid – April 27, 1770) was a Spanish colonial administrator and viceroy of New Granada from November 24, 1753 to February 25, 1761. He inaugurated an era of ostentatious ceremony previously unknown in this Spanish colony. He fortified the mint, built roads, bridges and aqueducts (including that of Santa Fé de Bogotá) and established missions. He ordered the first census of the colony. He took steps to secure the submission of the Motilon, Chimila and Cunacuna Indians of Darién. He also reorganized the postal service and improved tax collection and the performance of the Audiencia. He tried to organize the mineral industry and internal commerce. He reestablished the chair of medicine at the Colegio del Rosario. In addition he formed a commission to establish the boundaries with the Portuguese colony of Brazil. He founded the Hospital San Juan de Dios and assisted many people during an epidemic of measles.

After turning over the office to his successor, Pedro Messía de la Cerda, he became a monk in a Franciscan convent (February 25, 1761). (He had been a member of the Third Order of Franciscans before he became viceroy.) He helped finance the construction of the church of the Third Order in Bogotá, and donated the bells and clock for the Church of San Francisco. He gave away the rest of his property to the poor and lived sequestered until his death in 1770, in Bogotá.

Church of San Francisco in modern Colombia
By end of the 19th century the inhabitants of Cartagena were the richest of the Americas. The aristocracy erected noble houses on their lands to form great estates, libraries and printing establishments were opened, and the first café in New Granada was even established.  When the defenses were finished in 1756, the city was considered impregnable. Legend has it that Charles III of Spain, while reviewing in Madrid the Spanish defense expenditures for Havana and Cartagena, looked through his spyglass and remarked, "This is outrageous! For this price those castles should be seen from here".

Pedro Messía Corea de la Cerda was viceroy of New Granada from 1761 to 1773.He was already a renowned naval hero after the War of the Austrian Succession when he took his position as viceroy: He was captain of the ship of the line Glorioso, during this time occurred the famous Voyage of the Glorioso or the battles of the Glorioso. The Glorioso, a 70-gun ship, carrying four million silver dollars from the Americas, was able to repel two British attacks off the Azores and Cape Finisterre, successfully landing her cargo at the port of Corcubión, Spain. Several days after unloading the cargo, while sailing to Cadiz for repairs, Glorioso was attacked successively near Cape St Vincent by four British privateer frigates and the ships of the line HMS Dartmouth and HMS Russell from Admiral John Byng's fleet. The Dartmouth blew up killing most of the crew, but the 92-gun Russell, finally forced the Glorioso to strike the colours. The British took her to Lisbon, where she had to be broken up because of the extensive damage suffered during the last battle. The commander of the ship, Pedro Messia de la Cerda, and his men, were taken to Great Britain as prisoners, but were considered heroes in Spain and gained the admiration of their enemies. Several British officers were court-martialed and expelled from the Navy for their poor performance against the enemy. According to some British sources, the defence of the Glorioso ranks foremost in Spanish naval history.

Combat of the Glorioso against HMS Dartmouth. Oil on canvas by Ángel Cortellini Sánchez, 1891.
As viceroy he imposed a tax on tobacco. He also took steps to stimulate the mineral production in the colony. During his administration a gunpowder factory was established in the capital, and a saltpeter factory in Tunja. He reorganized the treasury, reinforced the fortifications of Cartagena, and promoted public works, such as the road from Bogotá to Caracas. He promoted higher education and established a postal monopoly. He also increased the tax on aguardiente. In May 1765 this led to a revolt in Quito.

Messía promoted the missions, also without major results. He began the construction of the cathedral of Santa Marta. The first stone was laid on December 8, 1766. He carried out the order of King Charles III to expel the Jesuits from New Granada (and all the other Spanish dominions), and he established a mechanism to administer the property confiscated from the Order. Messía de la Cerda was a friend of the Jesuits, and tried to mitigate the harshness of the expulsion order. Nevertheless, it was enforced on July 31, 1767. At the time there were 114 Jesuit priests, 57 students and 56 brothers in the colony. Many of the individuals expelled took up residence in Urbino, Italy, where a number of them, through their writings, supplied European scholars with more information about the Americas.

Manuel de Guirior was viceroy of New Granada from 1772 to 1776 and of Peru from July 17, 1776 to July 21, 1780. As viceroy, he tried to reform the religious communities, revitalize the missions, and insure more humanitarian treatment of the Indigenous. He worked to improve the economy and stimulate industry. He divided the city of Bogotá into barrios (boroughs). He also improved the defenses of the colony, especially on the coast. He founded the Real Universidad de Santafé, as well as a hospital and a hospice. On July 20, 1773 he founded the first public library in the colony, in Bogotá. The original collection of the library consisted of books expropriated from the Jesuit community, which had been expelled from all dominions of the Spanish Empire by order of King Charles III of Spain in 1767. The new library opened on January 9, 1777. It is now the Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia (National Library of Colombia).

Manuel Antonio Flores Maldonado Martínez Ángulo y Bodquín was a general in the Spanish navy and viceroy of New Granada (1776 - November 26, 1781) He served in this capacity for 11 years and 5 months. He was well liked in New Grenada. He intervened in a dispute between missionaries and the military governor of California. He arranged that the sons of the largest landowners of the colony be given high positions in the colonial army. In 1788 he arranged with the Spanish government to bring in 11 German miners from Dresden to teach Mexican miners recent technical advances in metallurgy. During his administration the Real Estudio Botánico opened. He resigned in 1787, citing ill health.

In 1781 there was an uprising in the Viceroyalty called the the Revolt of the Comuneros. The rebels coming from the upper classes of society were unified under the leadership of Juan Francisco Berbeo, a Criollo elite.They were complaining about the new tax increases and other changes that would have reduced the profits of the local landlords. Together 10,000 to 20,000 troops of rebels marched on the capital, Bogotá. Once the rebels defeated the soldiers sent against them from the capital, then they reached a town just north of Bogota. Spanish officials agreed to meet with the Comuneros and signed an agreement stating the conditions and complaints of the rebels. However, once the rebels dispersed and became unorganized, the Spanish government officials signed a document that discarded the agreement on the basis that is was forced upon them. Once reinforcements for the Spanish government arrived, they were sent to rebellious cities and towns to enforce the implementation of the increased taxes. José Antonio Galán, one of the leaders of the revolt, continued on with a small amount of rebels, but they were quickly defeated and he was executed, while other leaders of the rebellion were sentenced for life in prison for treason.

Juan de Torrezar Díaz Pimienta was a Spanish military officer and colonial official. He was twice governor of Cartagena de Indias, after which he was promoted to viceroy of New Granada. He took possession of his new office on April 1, 1782, still in Cartagena. Before leaving that city, he announced a generous amnesty for those charged in the Revolt of the Comuneros. On April 21 he left Cartagena to take up his new position in Santafé de Bogotá, the capital of the viceroyalty. Torrezal Díaz was received along the way at Honda by Archbishop Caballero y Góngora. A great banquet was held in his honor. It was said that the archbishop, who was present at the banquet, did not eat. Torrezal Díaz did, however. He arrived at the capital one week later (June 7). He was very sick and died in agony four days after his arrival. Some believed that he had been poisoned by the archbishop. The official report of his death said he died of infection. A sealed royal document intended to beopened only in the event of his death identified Archbishop Caballero y Góngora as his replacement.

Antonio Caballero y Góngora was a Spanish Roman Catholic prelate and, from 1782 to 1789, viceroy of New Granada. He also requested the Crown to abolish the recent reforms, including the creation of intendencias. New Granada become the only Spanish territory in America were they were not established.His efforts to modernize the viceroyalty were of great importance. He stimulated the economy, industry and the arts, and greatly assisted the Royal Botanical Expedition of 1783, under José Celestino Mutis. In 1782 and 1783 he had to deal with an epidemic of smallpox. In 1783 the interim character of his appointment was removed, and he became viceroy in his own right. In October 1784 he went to Cartagena to settle the Indian population in towns, and to suppress an Indigenous rebellion in Darién and promote colonization there. The latter project was not successful. He founded new missions in Casanare and San Martín.

The Royal Botanical Expedition to New Granada (Spanish: Expedición Botánica al Virreinato de Nueva Granada) took place between 1783 and 1816 in the territories of New Granada, covering present-day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Peru and northern Brazil and western Guyana. The project was rejected twice before being finally approved in 1783 by King Charles III of Spain, and was headed by José Celestino Mutis, a Spanish priest, who was also a botanist, mathematician and teacher. In 1937 on the occasion of the bicentennial celebrations of Mutis birth, the governments of Spain and Colombia jointly produced the publication of the Flora de la Real Expedición Botánica del Nuevo Reino de Granada.

José Manuel de Ezpeleta was viceroy of New Granada from 1789 to 1797.Ezpeleta founded the first theater in Bogotá. He supported literary circles, in which some of the future heroes of the independence movement participated. In 1794, Antonio Nariño published a translation of the Rights of Man, for which he was tried and convicted. Like his predecessors, Ezpeleta tried to spur the mining industry in Mariquita, but he came to the conclusion that the operating expenses were greater than the output. He promoted Catholic missions as a means of pacifying the Indigenous who had not accepted Spanish rule, especially the Andaqui people.

Vicerreinato de Nueva Granada

Pedro Mendinueta y Múzquiz  was viceroy of New Granada  From January 2, 1797 to 1803. He supported scientific investigations in the viceroyalty. In July 1801 he received, with great interest and esteem, the naturalists Baron Alexander von Humboldt, German, and Aimé Bonpland, French, who were traveling with the permission of the Spanish Crown to study the flora, fauna and geography of its American possessions. They also intended to produce a map of South America north of the Amazon River. A map of the viceroyalty was a preoccupation of Mendinueta, who believed that many of the works he wanted to undertake were not possible without a more accurate knowledge of the geography of the colony.

He named Doctor Miguel de Isla to the chair of medicine. Isla taught anatomical theory and dissected corpses in the Hospital San Juan, incorporating this practice into the teaching of medicine. This had not been done before in the viceroyalty. Mendinueta also ordered José Celestino Mutis to reorganize the Faculty of Medicine. This plan was adopted by the colonial government in 1804.

Mendinueta wrote an extensive Memoria Sobre el Nuevo Reino de Granada (1803). The work, divided into four parts (ecclesiastical affairs, administration, finances and the military), is an important account of the colony at the beginning of the nineteenth century, just before the war of independence.

He faced an insurrection of French Negroes in Cartagena, who attempted to kill the governor of the city, as well as an insurrection of the natives of Túquerres and Guaitarilla. The Indigenous rebelled because of pressure of taxes and tithes. The rebels assassinated the governor and the collector of tithes. Mendinueta also worked to bring unconquered Indigenous tribes under Spanish authority and reorganized the government of Los Llanos.

He tried to increase the supply of medicines to the poor and reorganized the Hospital San Juan de Dios in Bogotá, providing for a monthly inspection to ensure that the poor were receiving adequate attention there. He took a similar interest in other hospitals in the colony. He founded the pesthouse in Bogotá. In 1801 he took largely successful sanitary measures to avoid a new epidemic of smallpox.

Mendinueta had a reputation as a hard worker and a man of advanced ideas. He had many plans to improve the colony, some of which he was not able to put into effect. Recent wars with Britain and France had wrecked the economy and stimulated smuggling, and the public treasury was not able to support some of his ideas. Like his predecessor Ezpeleta, he worked hard to combat smuggling, but with little effect.

Antonio José Amar y Borbón Arguedas was viceroy of New Granada (Greater Colombia) from September 16, 1803 to July 20, 1810. During his mandate he faced the beginning of the independence movement. He is also remembered for introducing costumes and masked balls in the society of Bogotá. He supported the botanical expedition of José Celestino Mutis and the scientific research of Francisco José de Caldas.

There was strong support for King Ferdinand VII after he had been taken prisoner by the French, but the power vacuum in the colony caused by the crisis eroded the authority of the royal officials and strengthened the hand of the Criollos. Amar did not agree to the demands of the Crillos to form a military force to defend against a possible French attack, because he was not confident of their loyalty to the Crown. On their part, the Criollos worried of the possible adherence of the viceroy and the Audiencia to the French party.

In 1808 a large military force to attack Venezuela was assembled and placed under the command of Arthur Wellesley, but Napoleon's invasion of Spain suddenly transformed Spain into an ally of Britain, and the force instead went there to fight in the Peninsular War.

At the beginning of September 1809, at the time of the revolution in Quito, Amar y Borbón summoned two public meetings of the oidores (members of the Audiencia), public prosecutors, civil and ecclesiastical employees and members of the capital elite to determine what actions should be taken against the rebels. These councils split between the Crillos and the Peninsulares, the former rejecting the proposal to send troops to suppress the rebels. The viceroy finally determined to send a peace commission to negotiate, and at the same time, troops to contain the rebellion in case the negotiations failed.

On July 20, 1810, a revolt began in Bogotá that demanded and obtain the convocation of an open town meeting. This meeting elected by popular acclamation a Supreme Junta of the Kingdom of New Granada, with Viceroy Amar as its president. However, his election as president received little support in the city, and there were rumors he planned a counterattack. On July 25, 1810 he was removed. José Miguel Pey, the new president of the Supreme Junta, ordered the arrest of the viceroy and his wife. He was held a prisoner until his deportation to Havana, and thence to Spain, on October 12.

Francisco de Miranda, a spanish revolutionary born in Caracas and freemason, envisioned in 1806 an independent empire consisting of all the territories that had been under Spanish and Portuguese rule, stretching from the Mississippi River to Cape Horn. This empire was to be under the leadership of a hereditary emperor called the "Inca", in honor of the great Inca Empire, and would have a bicameral legislature. He conceived the name "Colombia" for this empire, after the explorer Christopher Columbus. Miranda was a military leader who participated in Spanish campaigns like the siege of Melilla and even the American revolutionary war( Siege of Fort Pensacola). From 1791, Miranda took an active part in the French Revolution. He later returned to the United States in 1783, where he met, among others, George Washington, Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, Henry Knox, and Thomas Jefferson.

Venezuela achieved de facto independence on April 19, 1810, when a junta was established and the colonial administrators deposed. The Junta sent a delegation to Great Britain to get British recognition and aid. This delegation, which included future Venezuelan notables military leaders Simón Bolívar and Andrés Bello, met with and persuaded Miranda to return to his native land. On July 5, 1811, it formally declared Venezuelan independence and established a republic. The congress also adopted his tricolor as the Republic's flag.

On November 11, 1811, Cartagena declared its independence. It had been the biggest city of the Viceroyalty until 1811, when the Peninsular War, which became Wars of Independence and Piñeres's Revolts, marked the beginning of a dramatic decline in all aspects for what had become the virtual capital of New Granada, The following year Miranda and the young Republic's fortunes turned. Republican forces failed to subdue areas of Venezuela (provinces of Coro, Maracaibo and Guyana) which had remained royalist. In addition, Venezuela's loss of the Spanish market for its main export, cocoa meant that an economic crisis set in, which mostly hurt the middle and lower classes, who lost enthusiasm for the Republic. Finally a powerful earthquake and its aftershocks hit the country, which caused large numbers of deaths and serious damage to buildings, mostly in republican areas.  Neighboring Cumaná, now cut off from the Republican center, refused to recognize Miranda's dictatorial powers and his appointment of a commandant general. By the middle of the month many of the outlying areas of Cumaná Province had also defected to the royalists. With these circumstances a Spanish marine frigate captain, Domingo Monteverde, operating out of Coro, was able to turn a small force under his command into a large army, as people joined him on his advance towards Valencia, leaving Miranda in charge of only a small area of central Venezuela. In these dire circumstances Miranda was given broad political powers by his government. By mid-July Monteverde had taken Valencia, and Miranda thought the situation was hopeless. He started negotiations with Monteverde and finalized an armistice on July 25, 1812. He then went to the port of La Guaira intending to leave on a British ship before the royalists arrived, although under the armistice there was an amnesty for political offenses.  Then-Colonel Bolívar and other revolutionary officers claimed his actions as treasonous. In one of Bolívar's most morally dubious acts, Bolívar and the others arrested and handed Miranda over to the Spanish Royal Army. Miranda never saw freedom again. His case was still being processed, when he died in a prison cell at the Penal de las Cuatro Torres at the Arsenal de la Carraca, outside Cádiz, aged 66.

Francisco de Miranda was the person who originally created the common yellow, blue and red flag of Gran Colombia that Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, with slight variations, share today. Miranda stated that the colours were based on a theory of primary colours given to him by the German writer and philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

First he explained to me the way the iris transforms light into the three primary colours […] then he proved to me why yellow is the most warm, noble and closest to [white] light; why blue is that mix of excitement and serenity, a distance that evokes shadows; and why red is the exaltation of yellow and blue, the synthesis, the vanishing of light into shadow.

It is not that the world is made of yellows, blues and reds; it is that in this manner, as if in an infinite combination of these three colours, we human beings see it. […] A country [Goethe concluded] starts out from a name and a flag, and it then becomes them, just as a man fulfils his destiny.

The Second Republic of Venezuela (Segunda República de Venezuela in Spanish) is the term used by historians for the reestablished Venezuelan Republic declared by Simón Bolívar on 7 August 1813. This declaration followed the defeat of Domingo Monteverde by Bolívar during the Admirable Campaign in the west and Santiago Mariño in his campaign in the east. The republic came to an end in the following year, after a series of defeats at the hands of José Tomás Boves.

Historians use the term "Third Republic of Venezuela" to refer to the period from about 1817 to 1819, when a rump government, organized by Bolívar began functioning in the Venezuelan Llanos. The year before, various Venezuelan guerilla forces managed to permanently establish themselves in the Llanos and captured the city of Angostura, which became their headquarters. This period culminated with the formation of the Congress of Angostura, which wrote a new constitution for Venezuela, replacing the one from 1811, which in theory, was still valid, although suspended since the collapse of the First Republic in 1812.

By 1819, José María Barreiro, who was in charge of the royalist troops in Nueva Granada, counted with at least 4,500 trained soldiers at his command (without including the troops scattered throughout the region). General Simon Bolivar was able to round up merely 2,200 able men, which he distributed into four battalions, three regiments, one squadron, and an artillery company that lacked cannons. If Bolívar could liberate New Granada, he would have a whole new base from which to operate against Pablo Morillo, head of the royalist forces in the area. Central New Granada held great promise since, unlike Venezuela, it had only been recently conquered by Morillo and it had a prior six-year experience of independent government. Royalist sentiment, therefore, was not strong. The route that the small army of about 2,500 men—including a British legion—took went from the hot and humid, flood-swept plains of Venezuela to the icy mountain pass of the Páramo de Pisba, at an altitude of 3,960 meters (13,000 feet), through the Cordillera Oriental. After the hardships of wading through a virtual sea, the mostly llanero army was not prepared and poorly clothed for the cold and altitude of the mountains. Many became ill or died.

In a series of battles the republican army cleared its way to Bogotá. First at the Battle of Vargas Swamp on 25 July, Bolívar intercepted a royalist force attempting to reach the poorly defended capital. After the Vargas Swamp Battle, Bolivar reorganized his men, resting them until 4 August, when he ordered a return to Venezuela. However, in the night, he redirects his forces towards Tunja, and took the city by mid-day of 5 August 1819. Due to Bolivar's flash conquest, Barreiro was obliged to mobilize his troops to defend the capital, Santafé, from Bolivar. The Royalist men took the fastest route to Bogota (which led through the Boyacá Bridge) but were unable to pass, as Bolivar intercepted them, early morning of 7 August. Bolivar's republican troops were composed of approximately 2,850 men, which successfully divided and defeated the 2,670 royalist soldiers in a battle that lasted two hours. The battle resulted in the death of 66 republicans, 250 royalists, and well as the capture of approximately 1,600 of the remaining royal troops. The Battle of Boyacá on 7 August 1819, the bulk of the royalist army surrendered to Bolívar.

On the day of the battle of Boyacá, Colonel Barrerio (leader of the royalist forces in Nueva Granada) was captured alongside 37 Spanish officers. The 38 prisoners were executed on 11 October 1819 by decree of Francisco de Paula Santander, keeping true to Bolivar's motto of 'war to the death.' On receiving the news, the viceroy, Juan José de Sámano, and the rest of royalist government fled the capital to Cartagena de Indias so fast that they left behind the treasury. On the afternoon of 10 August Bolívar's army entered Bogotá without any royalist resistance.

In December Bolívar returned to Angostura, where he urged the Congress to proclaim the creation of a new state: the Republic of Colombia (Gran Colombia) bringing an end to the Third Venezuelan Republic. It did so on 17 December 1819 and elected him president of the new country. Since two of its three regions, Venezuela and Quito (Ecuador), were still under royalist control, it was only a limited achievement. 
Bolivar launched definitive independence campaigns in Venezuela and Ecuador, sealed with the victories at the Battle of Carabobo in 1821 and the Battle of Pichincha in 1822 respectively. On September 7, 1821 the Gran Colombia (a nation covering much of modern Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador) was created, with Bolívar as president and Francisco de Paula Santander as vice president.  Bolívar's victory in New Granada was, therefore, a major turning point in the history of northern South America.

After a meeting in Guayaquil, on July 26 and July 27, 1822, with Argentine General José de San Martín, who had received the title of Protector of Peruvian Freedom, in August 1821, after having partially liberated Peru from the Spanish, Bolívar took over the task of fully liberating Peru.

On August 6, 1825, at the Congress of Upper Peru, the Republic of Bolivia was created. Bolívar is thus one of the few men to have a country named after him. Bolívar had great difficulties maintaining control of the vast Gran Colombia. During 1826, internal divisions had sparked dissent throughout the nation and regional uprisings erupted in Venezuela, thus the new South American union revealed its fragility and appeared to be on the verge of collapse.

He had seen his dream of eventually engendering an American Revolution-style federation between all the newly independent republics, with a government ideally set-up solely to recognize and uphold individual rights, succumb to the pressures of particular interests throughout the region, which rejected that model and allegedly had little or no allegiance to liberal principles.

For this reason, and to prevent a break-up, Bolívar wanted to implement in Gran Colombia a more centralist model of government, including some or all of the elements of the Bolivian constitution he had written, which included a lifetime presidency with the ability to select a successor. After the failure of this congress to write a new constitution, Bolívar proclaimed himself dictator on August 27, 1828 through the Organic Decree of Dictatorship. He considered this as a temporary measure, as a means to reestablish his authority and save the republic.

Although Bolívar emerged physically intact from the event, this nevertheless greatly affected him. Dissent continued, and uprisings occurred in New Granada, Venezuela and Ecuador during the next two years. Saying "All who served the Revolution have plowed the sea", Bolívar finally resigned his presidency on April 27, 1830, intending to leave the country for exile in Europe, possibly in France. He died before setting sail, after a painful battle with tuberculosis on December 17, 1830, in the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino in Santa Marta, Gran Colombia (now Colombia), at the age of 47.

On his deathbed, Bolívar asked his aide-de-camp, General Daniel F. O'Leary to burn the remaining, extensive archive of his writings, letters, and speeches. O'Leary disobeyed the order and his writings survived, providing historians with a vast wealth of information about Bolívar's liberal philosophy and thought. Bolívar described himself in his many letters as a "liberal" who believed in a "free market." He was an admirer of the American Revolution and a great critic of the French Revolution. He considered Thomas Jefferson so important that he sent his nephew to the University of Virginia. He differed in political philosophy from the leaders of the Revolution in the United States on one important matter: he was staunchly anti-slavery, unlike his North American counterparts. On the other hand he was also a free-mason.

The Bolivian Constitution had a lifelong presidency and a hereditary senate, essentially recreating the British unwritten constitution, as it existed at the time, without formally establishing a monarchy. It was his attempts to implement a similar constitution in Gran Colombia that led to his downfall and rejection by 1830. Because the image of Bolívar became central to the national identities of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, his mantle is claimed by nearly all politicians from all parts of the political spectrum

Bolivar monument near Boyaca Bridge in Colombia, where Colombian independence was won against the Spanish army
Internal political and territorial divisions led to the secession of Venezuela and Quito (today's Ecuador) in 1830. From 1839 to 1884 there was great instability in the country with a succession of civil wars that caused changes in the regime, constitution, name, etc...

During all these wars the country change its name. From 1831 to 1858 it was called  "República de Nueva Granada"; from 1858 to 1861 was "Confederación Granadina"; from 1861 to 1886 was "Estados Unidos de Colombia" and  from 1886 it was finally called "República de Colombia".

Internal divisions remained between the bipartisan political forces, occasionally igniting very bloody civil wars, the most significant being the Thousand Days civil war (1899 - 1902) which together with the United States of America's intentions to influence in the area (especially the Panama Canal construction and control) led to the separation of the Department of Panama in 1903 and the establishment of it as a nation. Colombia was engulfed in a year long war with Peru over a territorial dispute involving the Amazonas Department and its capital Leticia.

In 1916 started the construction of Las Lajas Sanctuary, a basilique sanctuary located in the southern Colombian Department of Nariño, in the municipality of Ipiales. The inspiration for the church's creation was a miraculous event in 1754, when Amerindian Maria Mueces and her deaf-mute daughter Rosa were caught in a very strong storm. The two sought refuge between the gigantic Lajas, when, to Mueces's surprise, her daughter Rosa exclaimed "the Mestiza is calling me" and pointed to the lightning-illuminated silhouette over the laja. This apparition of the Virgin Mary instigated popular pilgrimage to the site and occasional reports of cases of miraculous healing. The image on the stone is still visible today.The first shrine in the honor of Jesus's mother was built a few years after the alleged appearance, according to the journal of a friar who was traveling the region between 1756 and 1764. Half a century later, in 1802, a bigger shrine was built and worshipers erected the first version of the bridge that now allows access to the church.

The Las Lajas Sanctuary in southwest Colombia has made a name for its stunning architecture and a series of myths involving the appearance of the Holy Virgin and a mysterious mural of which nobody knows the origins.

Gran Colombia was disolved in 1930 and split in 3 different states, the present Ecuator, Venezuela and Colombia (Panama would do it in 1903).

Soon after, Colombia achieved a relative degree of political stability, which was interrupted by a bloody conflict that took place between the late 1940s and the early 1950s, a period known as La Violencia ("The Violence"). Its cause was mainly mounting tensions between the two leading political parties, which subsequently ignited after the assassination of the Liberal presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán on April 9, 1948. This assassination caused riots in Bogotá and became known as El Bogotazo.  Much of the city of Bogota was devastated.Fires destroyed the Cundinamarca Government building, the historic San Carlos Palace (containing the oldest portrait of Simón Bolívar, painted by Gill in London, 1810), the Justice Palace, Feminine University, Dominican Convent, St. Inés Convent, Regina Hotel, Veracruz church, La Salle high school, the Vatican Nunciature, and many other important landmarks of the city. Waves of unrest and crime spread throughout the country for almost a decade in a civil, bipartisan conflict of mass murder and torture. This period which lasted until 1958 is commonly known as La Violencia, ("The Violence"), during which approximately 200,000 people die.

Riots in Bogotá during El Bogotazo
From 1953 to 1964 the violence between the two political parties decreased first when Gustavo Rojas deposed the President of Colombia in a coup d'état and negotiated with the guerrillas, and then under the military junta of General Gabriel París Gordillo. After Rojas' deposition the two political parties Colombian Conservative Party and Colombian Liberal Party agreed to the creation of a "National Front", whereby the Liberal and Conservative parties would govern jointly. The presidency would be determined by an alternating conservative and liberal president every 4 years for 16 years; the two parties would have parity in all other elective offices. The pact was ratified as a constitutional amendment by a national plebiscite on 1 December 1957 and was supported by the Roman Catholic Church as well as Colombia's business leaders. The initial power-sharing agreement was effective until 1974; nonetheless, with modifications, the Liberal–Conservative bipartisan system lasted until 1990.

Despite the progress in certain sectors, many social and political problems continued, and guerrilla groups were formally created such as the FARC, ELN and M-19 to fight the government and political apparatus. These guerrilla groups were dominated by Marxist doctrines.

[ The National Liberation Army of Colombia (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) was founded in 1964, by Fabio Vásquez Castaño and other Colombian rebels trained in Communist Cuba; upon the Vásquez Castaño death, the ELN was headed by a series of Roman Catholic priests, exponents of Liberation Theology. Most notable was the Priest Camilo Torres Restrepo (1929–66), a well-known university professor (egalitarian and Marxist) who was openly critical of the grossly unequal distribution of income among the social classes of Colombia. His attraction to the radical ideas of Liberation Theology led him to join the ELN, a guerrilla army intent upon effecting the revolutionary praxis of liberation theology among the poor people of Colombia. Father Camilo was killed in his first combat as an ELN guerrilla, and so became the exemplar ELN soldier.

In the 1970s, after suffering military defeat and internal crises, the ELN was commanded by the Spanish priest Father Manuel Pérez Martínez (1943–98) alias El Cura Pérez (The Priest Pérez), who shared joint-leadership with leader Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista, alias "Gabino". From the late 1970s, The Priest Pérez presided over the National Liberation Army as one of its most recognized figures, until he died of hepatitis B in 1998. Father Manuel Pérez was instrumental to establishing the ideology of the ELN, a composite of Cuban revolutionary theory and liberation theology that proposes the establishment in Colombia of a Christian and communist regime to resolve the socioeconomic problems of chronic political corruption, poverty and the political exclusion of most Colombians from the government of their country. Pérez was considered an extremist; one former guerrilla described him as "rigid and brutal". His leadership is thought to have significantly affected the ELN's ideology (Cuban-style Marxism and liberation theology) and methods (which led to accusations of kidnapping, torture, and execution).

The ELN's main source of income are businesses and middle class civilians in its areas of operation. To enforce these "taxes", they frequently take civilians captive to use as leverage. While the ELN uses the terms "war taxes" and "retentions" for these actions, critics insist they constitute "extortion" and "kidnapping".


 [ FARC:

File photo of FARC-EP soldiers, some of whom are under 18

Communists were active throughout rural and urban Colombia in the period immediately following World War I.

The Colombian Communist Party (Partido Comunista Colombiano, PCC) was formally accredited by the Comintern in 1930. The PCC began establishing "peasant leagues" in rural areas and "popular fronts" in urban areas, calling for improved living and working conditions, education, and rights for the working class.

In 1961, a guerrilla leader and long-time PCC organizer named Manuel Marulanda Vélez declared an independent "Republic of Marquetalia". The Lleras government attempted unsuccessfully to attack the communities to drive out the guerrillas, due to fears that "a Cuban-style revolutionary situation might develop". After the failed attacks, several army outposts were set up in the area.

The Colombian government began attacking many of the communist groups in the early 1960s, attempting to re-assimilate the territories under the control of the national government. FARC was formed in 1964 by Manuel Marulanda Vélez and other PCC members, after a military attack on the community of Marquetalia.  Marulanda and 47 others fought against government forces at Marquetalia, and then escaped into the mountains along with the other fighters.

FARC had historically been doing most of its fighting in rural areas, and was limited to small-scale confrontations with Colombian military forces. By 1982, increased income from the "coca boom" allowed them to expand into an irregular army, which would then stage large-scale attacks on Colombian troops. They also began sending fighters to Vietnam and the Soviet Union for advanced military training.

In 1985, members of the FARC-EP, along with a large number of other leftist and communist groups, formed a political party known as the Union Patriótica ("Patriotic Union", UP).  the UP's ideology was openly communist and marxist, but the main platform initially consisted of promoting itself as a legal and democratic alternative to the two main Colombian political parties, the Conservatives and the Liberals. UP campaigners usually focused on proposing and implementing solutions to the problems of poor communities, rather than relying solely on a strictly rigorous ideological work (though this was also done where applicable).

By 1987, the party's leadership began to be gradually but increasingly decimated by the violent attacks and assassinations carried out by drug lords, proto-paramilitary groups and some members of the government's armed forces that acted together with the above, with what many observers consider as the passive tolerance (and in, some instances, the alleged collaboration) of the traditional bipartisan political establishment.

In 1988, the UP announced that more than 500 of its members, including Jaime Pardo and 4 congressmen, had been assassinated to date. Unidentified gunmen later attacked more than 100 of the UP's local candidates in the six months preceding the March 1988 elections.

During this period, the mid-1980s to the early-1990s, deadly violence was also directed against mainstream politicians, such as the official Liberal presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán on August 18, 1989, M-19 presidential candidate Carlos Pizarro on April 26, 1990, Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara on April 30, 1984, and others. Liberal Ernesto Samper was wounded while he was saying hello to Jose Antequera, Union Patriotica leader who was murdered on March 3, 1989, Ernesto Samper survived the attack, Jose Antequera died. Numerous car bombs and explosives were also regularly activated in several important Colombian cities, including the capital Bogotá, leaving hundreds dead and wounded.

The FARC and its sympathizers have later repeatedly employed the destruction of the UP as a strong argument in order to justify its armed struggle against the Colombian state and its assuming positions that many on the Colombian and international leftwing consider to be radical.

Several of the FARC's critics believe that, despite the unjustifiable bloodshed, it is debatable whether such positions are entirely a consequence of the UP's failure. Some believe that, at least partially, their basis was part of the FARC's preexisting ideological and political strategies.

FARC has been accused of committing violations of human rights by numerous groups. A February 2005 report from the United Nations' . High Commissioner for Human Rights mentioned in 2004, "FARC ontinued to commit grave breaches [of human rights] such as murders of protected persons, torture and hostage-taking, which affected many civilians, including men, women, returnees, boys and girls, and ethnic groups."

Human rights groups have often accused the Farc of forcibly recruiting poor farmers and children. The Farc say that everyone who joined them did so voluntarily. According to their own figures, there were 21 children under the age of 15 in their ranks in May 2016.

In June 2016, the FARC signed a ceasefire accord with the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos in Havana. This accord has been seen as a historic step to ending the war that has gone on for fifty years.

On August 25, 2016, the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, announced that four years of negotiation has secured a peace deal with  FARC and that a national referendum would take place on 2 October. The referendum failed with 50.24% voting against. The Colombian government and the FARC on November 24 signed a revised peace deal, which the Colombian Congress approved on November 30.


Emerging in the late 1970s, powerful and violent drug cartels further developed during the 1980s and 1990s. The Medellín Cartel under Pablo Escobar and the Cali Cartel, in particular, exerted political, economic and social influence in Colombia during this period. After Escobar's death, the Medellín Cartel fragmented and the cocaine market soon became dominated by the rival Cali Cartel, until the mid-1990s when its leaders, too, were either killed or captured by the government. The Robin Hood image that he had cultivated continued to have lasting influence in Medellín. Many there, especially many of the city's poor that had been aided by him while he was alive, lamented his death.

On November 13, 1985 an eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz Volcano produced lahars that destroyed the  killed about 23,000 people and destroyed the town of Armero. Approximately 31,000 people lived in the area at the time. The incident became known as the Armero tragedy. While the destruction of the town made world news in its own right, the best known victim was Omayra Sánchez, a young girl who died after being trapped by water and concrete up to her neck for three days. Lacking the surgical conditions to save her from the effects of an amputation, the doctors agreed that it would be more humane to let her die. She suffered for nearly three nights (roughly 60 hours) before she died at 10:05 A.M. on November 16 from exposure, most likely from gangrene or hypothermia. Colombia's Minister of Defense, Miguel Uribe, said he "understood criticism of the rescue effort", but said that Colombia was "an undeveloped country" that did not "have the right equipment."After this event, the town of Guayabal was assigned as the seat of the municipality of Armero, rendering Armero a ghost town.
Omayra Sánchez
Omayra last pictures were taken by French photographer Frank Fournier and published months after the girl's death. Frank was awarded the 1986 World Press Photo Premier Award for this picture.

The Palace of Justice siege (Toma del Palacio de Justicia in Spanish) was a 1985 attack against the Supreme Court of Colombia, in which members of the M-19 guerrilla group took over the Palace of Justice in Bogotá, Colombia, and held the Supreme Court hostage, intending to hold a trial against President Belisario Betancur. Hours later, after a military raid, the incident left all the rebels and 11 of the 25 Supreme Court Justices dead.
The Palace of Justice in flames.
More than 100 people died during the final assault on the Palace. Those killed consisted of hostages, soldiers, and all of the guerrillas, including their leader Andrés Almarales and four other senior commanders of M-19. After the raid, another Supreme Court justice died in a hospital after suffering a heart attack.The siege of the Palace of Justice and the subsequent raid was one of the deadliest attacks in Colombia in its war with leftist rebels. The M-19 group was still a potent force after the raid, but was severely hampered by the deaths of five of its leaders. In March 1990 it signed a peace treaty with the government.

There is still confusion as to the details of the assault, especially what happened inside. According to a surviving hostage, Hernando Tapias, a number of the justices in the restroom were executed by the M-19 rebels when they realized that the situation was "hopeless". The rebels were running out of ammunition and their position remained under constant bombardment by the Colombian military, which continued to fire despite the magistrate's verbal pleas. Tapias has said that the guerrillas then ordered the justices to line up and fired at them, killing some and wounding others. In an effort to complete one of the 2 objectives they had assaulted the palace for, the M-19 Guerrillas burnt different criminal records containing proof and warrants against many members of the group and it is also believed, but argued whether they also burnt records against Pablo Escobar, one of the nation's biggest Drug Trafickers at the time. In total, over 6000 different documents were successfully burned. According to eyewitnesses, and different news reports, "the guerrillas were unable to control the fire in the heat of the battle, and the fire raged out of control, rising to a temperature of about 3,500 ºC.

The Medellín Cartel was an organized network of "Drug Suppliers and Smugglers" originating in the city of Medellín, Colombia. The Cartel operated in Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Central America, the United States, as well as Canada and even Europe throughout the 1970s and 1980s. It was founded and run by Pablo Escobar together with the Ochoa Vázquez brothers Jorge Luis, Juan David and Fabio. As a means of intimidation, the cartel conducted many hundred assassinations throughout the country. Escobar and his associates made it clear that whoever stood against them would risk being killed along with their families. Some estimates put the total around 3,500 killed during the height of the cartel's reign, including over 500 police officers in Medellín, but the entire list is impossible to assemble, due to the limitation of the judiciary power in Colombia. Perhaps the greatest threat posed to the Medellín Cartel and the other traffickers was the implementation of an extradition treaty between the United States and Colombia. It allowed Colombia to extradite to the US any Colombian suspected of drug trafficking and to be tried there for their crimes. This was a major problem for the cartel, since the drug traffickers had little access to their local power and influence in the US, and a trial there would most likely lead to imprisonment. Among the staunch supporters of the extradition treaty were Colombian Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara (who was pushing for more action against the drug cartels), Police Officer Jaime Ramírez, and numerous Colombian Supreme Court judges. The cartel issued death threats to the Supreme Court Judges, asking them to denounce the Extradition Treaty. The warnings were ignored. This led Escobar and the group he called Los Extraditables ("The Extraditables") to start a violent campaign to pressure the Colombian government by committing a series of kidnappings, murders, and narco-terrorist actions. For instance the Minister of Justice, Lara was gunned down in his car on the night of April 30, 1984. Still many members of the Cartel, including Escobar, were hunted and killed by the Colombia National Police. This force was trained and assisted by both the United States Delta Force as well as the CIA. Once most members were either killed or imprisoned, the Medellin Cartel, once the most powerful and feared drug cartel in the world, disappeared.

Avianca Airlines Flight 203 was a Colombian domestic passenger flight from El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá to Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport in Cali. It was destroyed by a bomb over the municipality of Soacha on November 27, 1989. The bombing of Flight 203 was the deadliest single criminal attack in decades of violence in Colombia claiming 110 souls. Pablo Escobar of the Medellín drug cartel planned the bombing, hoping it would kill presidential candidate in the 1990 elections César Gaviria Trujillo. Gaviria, however, was not on the aircraft and went on to become President of Colombia. Two Americans were among the dead, prompting the Bush Administration to begin Intelligence Support Activity operations to find Escobar. Dandeny Muñoz Mosquera, the chief assassin for the Medellín Cartel, was convicted of the bombing in a United States District Court and was sentenced to 10 consecutive life sentences.

Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento was a Colombian journalist and liberal politician who ran for the presidency of Colombia on two occasions. Galán declared himself an enemy of the dangerous and influential Colombian drug cartels, mainly the Medellín Cartel led by Pablo Escobar (who had been part of his New Liberalism Movement) and Gonzalo Rodríguez a.k.a. "El Mexicano," that were corrupting Colombian society at all levels. Galán supported an extradition treaty with the U.S. After receiving several death threats, on August 18, 1989, Galán was shot to death by hitmen hired by the drug cartels during a public demonstration in the town of Soacha, Cundinamarca. At the time, he was comfortably leading in the polls for the forthcoming 1990 presidential election. The investigation into his assassination remains partially unsolved. Galán was largely influenced by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's ideas and Nikos Kazantzakis's books. His father Mario described him as a person fascinated with spirituality, a man with integrity, an individual struggle for knowing one's self between good and evil and that the effort to achieve it consisted in the main objective in life, not only individually, but collectively.

The Cali Cartel was a drug cartel based in southern Colombia, around the city of Cali and the Valle del Cauca Department. With connections to British mercenaries, allies among countries, countless spies and informants in the government and its vast intelligence and surveillance network throughout the city of Santiago de Cali, the cartel was once renowned and compared to the Russian KGB by the American DEA, calling it "The most powerful crime syndicate in history", later called "The Cali KGB". At the height of the Cali Cartel's reign, they were cited as having control over 90% of the world's cocaine market and for being directly responsible for the growth of the cocaine market in Europe, controlling 90% of the market. Between June and July 1995, six of the seven heads of the Cali cartel were arrested.

Artist Fernando Botero, a native of Antioquia, the same region as Escobar, portrayed Pablo Escobar's death in one of his painting. Police located Pablo Escobar when Medellín's most famous criminal made a phone call to his son. When his location was tracked due to his excess telephone usage, Escobar was seen on the telephone through an open window as police surrounding the building where he was hiding out. A bearded Escobar fled to the rooftops where he was killed (December 2, 1993)

In 1990, the administration of President César Gaviria Trujillo (1990–94) initiated economic liberalism policies or "apertura economica" and this has continued since then, with tariff reductions, financial deregulation, privatization of state-owned enterprises, and adoption of a more liberal foreign exchange rate. Almost all sectors became open to foreign investment although agricultural products remained protected.

In recent years, the country has continued to be plagued by the effects of the drug trade, guerrilla insurgencies like FARC and paramilitary groups such as the AUC (later demobilized, though paramilitarism remains active), which along with other minor factions have engaged in a bloody internal armed conflict. President Andrés Pastrana (Conservative) and the FARC attempted to negotiate a solution to the conflict between 1998 and 2002 in which the government, more or less like Pakistan negotiations with the Taliban, believed the state could not fight forever and agreed to handle huge quantity of land in return for peace. Pastrana began to implement the Plan Colombia initiative, with the dual goal of ending the armed conflict and promoting a strong anti-narcotic strategy. This strategy entailed setting a huge quantity of land as "demilitarized" zones where no soldiers from either side could reside, but as attacks from the drug cartels persisted in those zones, the government established the negotiations were ineffectual.

Operation Jaque (Spanish: Operación Jaque) was a Colombian military operation that resulted in the successful rescue of 15 hostages, including former Colombian presidential candidate Íngrid Betancourt. The hostages had been held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The operation took place on July 2, 2008, along the Apaporis River in the department of Guaviare. The other hostages freed were Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes, and Keith Stansell, three American military contractors employed by Northrop Grumman and 11 Colombian military and police.In June 2010, Betancourt requested to the Colombian justice, as other Colombian hostages previously did, a monetary compensation under the provision of Colombian victim of terrorism protection law. She presented her request on the grounds of having been victim of a lack of protection when her escorts were dismissed on the 23rd Feb 2002, which facilitated being kidnapped by rebels.The Colombian government said she was attacking in court the soldiers that had liberated her in 2008.Colombian vice president Francisco Santos said that the "lawsuit" deserved a "world prize for greed, ungratefulness and gall". A few days after the news of the request had broken, and public indignation was added to the government's, Betancourt's lawyer Gabriel Devis, said that the focus had to be on the "protection mechanisms the Colombian state offers to its citizens" and that nobody was attacking any soldier. Betancourt withdrew her claim for compensation.

During the presidency of Álvaro Uribe, who was elected on the promise of applying military pressure on the FARC and other outlawed groups, under the stance that nearly half a century of negotiations with no results was a sign that "some entities just cannot be negotiated with". Mostly through military pressure and increased military hardware from the US most security indicators improved, showing a steep decrease in reported kidnappings (from 3,700 in the year 2000 to 800 in 2005) and a decrease of more than 48% in homicides between July 2002 and May 2005. Guerillas have been reduced from 16,900 insurgents to 8,900 insurgents.
Uribe (left) being presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush
Colombian presidents can only serve two terms so Uribe left two presidencies.

While some in the UN argue Colombia is violating human rights to achieve peace, most do not argue that increase military pressure has had considerable improvements that have favored economic growth and tourism.

Juan Manuel Santos Calderón  (born 10 August 1951) is the 32nd and current President of Colombia, in office since 2010. He was Minister of Defence from 2006 to 2009. Juan Manuel is also the leader of The Social Party of National Unity (Spanish: Partido Social de Unidad Nacional), or Party of the U (Spanish: Partido de «la U») is a conservative liberal political party in Colombia. It attempts to unite various parliamentary supporters of Álvaro Uribe, the Uribistas, in one political party. Currently, it is Colombia's largest political party and has formed a coalition with the Colombian Conservative Party and the Colombian Liberal Party.

On June 23, 2016 a ceasefire accord was signed between the FARC Guerilla Army and the Colombian Government, in Havana, Cuba. Leaders of several Latin American countries which contributed to the deal, including Cuba and Venezuela, were present. A final peace accord will require a referendum to be approved.

Under the accord, the Colombian government will support massive investment for rural development and facilitate the FARC's reincarnation as a legal political party. FARC promised to help eradicate illegal drug crops, remove landmines in the areas of conflict, and offer reparations to victims. FARC leaders can avoid prosecution by acts of reparation to victims and other community work. On October 2, 2016 Colombians voted and rejected a peace deal with FARC by 50.2% to 49.8%.

The government met with victims and peace opponents after the referendum was rejected, receiving over 500 proposed changes, and continued to negotiate with FARC. A revised agreement announced on November 12, 2016, which would require parliamentary approval rather than a nationwide referendum. The Colombian government and the FARC on November 24 signed a revised peace deal,which Congress approved on November 30.

On February 18th, 2017, the last FARC guerrillas arrived in a designated transition zone, where they began the process of disarming. The rebels are intended to stay in the zones until May 31st. They are due to be registered there and then reintegrated into civilian life.

Colombia continues to be the country with most internally displaced people in the world with 6.9 million uprooted citizens and counting, according to the United Nations refugee agency. That is more than in Syria, Iraq or any other war zone. Forced to flee their farms and villages, they have resettled at the edges of Colombia’s cities, finding refuge in places like this treeless, teeming slum on the outskirts of the capital, Bogota. The displacement is mainly caused by ongoing clashes between the military, leftist guerrilla groups and right-wing paramilitary successor groups. However, many of Colombia’s internally displaced have seen their lands end up in the hands of land thieves or third parties who seek territorial benefit from the displacement of small farmers.

6.9 million people are displaced in Colombia
Colombia’s internally displaced population, 13% of the country’s entire population, has accumulated during decades of political violence, drug trafficking violence and widespread land theft.

Colombia's geography, with three cordilleras of the Andes running up the country from south to north, and jungle in the Amazon and Darién regions, represents a major obstacle to the development of national road networks with international connections.

cordilleras of the Andes in Colombia

Petroleum is Colombia's main export, making over 45% of Colombia's exports. Manufacturing makes up nearly 12% of Colombia's exports, and grows at a rate of over 10% a year.  The top exports of Colombia are Crude Petroleum ($25.7B), Coal Briquettes ($7.59B), Refined Petroleum ($2.77B), Coffee ($2.66B) and Gold ($1.76B). Colombia over the last decade has experienced a historic economic boom. In 1990, Colombia was Latin America's 5th Largest economy and had a GDP per capita of only US$1,500, by 2015 it became the 4th largest in Latin America, and the world's 31st largest. Poverty levels were as high as 65% in 1990, but decreased to under 24% by 2015.

Famous Colombian people:

Gabriel García Márquez  (1927-April 2014) was a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist. García Márquez, affectionately known as "Gabo" throughout Latin America, is considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century. In 1982, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Gabriel García Márquez was born on March 6, 1927 in the town of Aracataca, Colombia, to Gabriel Eligio García and Luisa Santiaga Márquez. Soon after García Márquez was born, his father became a pharmacist. In January 1929, his parents moved to Baranquilla while García Marquez stayed in Aracataca. He was raised by his maternal grandparents, Doña Tranquilina Iguarán and Colonel Nicolás Ricardo Márquez Mejía.  When he was eight, his grandfather died, and he moved to his parents' home in Barranquilla where his father owned a pharmacy.

García Márquez's political and ideological views were shaped by his grandfather's stories. In an interview, García Márquez told his friend Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, "my grandfather the Colonel was a Liberal. My political ideas probably came from him to begin with because, instead of telling me fairy tales when I was young, he would regale me with horrifying accounts of the last civil war that free-thinkers and anti-clerics waged against the Conservative government." This influenced his political views and his literary technique so that "in the same way that his writing career initially took shape in conscious opposition to the Colombian literary status quo, García Márquez's socialist and anti-imperialist views are in principled opposition to the global status quo dominated by the United States"

García Márquez began his career as a journalist while studying law in university. In 1948 and 1949 he wrote for El Universal in Cartagena. Later, from 1950 until 1952, he wrote a "whimsical" column under the name of "Septimus" for the local paper El Heraldo in Barranquilla.

Since García Márquez had met Mercedes Barcha, they had been waiting to finish school in order to get married. When he was sent to Europe as a foreign correspondent, Mercedes waited for him to return to Barranquilla. They were finally wed in 1958. The following year, their first son, Rodrigo García, now a television and film director, was born.

Leaf Storm (La Hojarasca) is García Márquez's first novella and took seven years to find a publisher, finally being published in 1955. García Márquez notes that "of all that he had written (as of 1973), Leaf St
All the events of the novel take place in one room, during a half-hour period on Wednesday September 12, 1928. It is the story of an old colonel (similar to García Márquez's own grandfather) who tries to give a proper Christian burial to an unpopular French doctor" Leaf Storm was his favorite because he felt that it was the most sincere and spontaneous. .

Since García Márquez was eighteen, he had wanted to write a novel based on his grandparents' house where he grew up. However, he struggled with finding an appropriate tone and put off the idea until one day the answer hit him while driving his family to Acapulco.

He wrote every day for eighteen months. His wife had to ask for food on credit from their butcher and their baker as well as nine months of rent on credit from their landlord. Fortunately, when the book was finally published in 1967 it became his most commercially successful novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien años de soledad) 

The story chronicles several generations of the Buendía family from the time they found the fictional South American village Macondo through their trials and tribulations, instances of incest, births and deaths. The history of Macondo is often generalized by critics to represent rural towns throughout Latin America or at least near García Márquez's native Aracataca.

After writing One Hundred Years of Solitude García Márquez returned to Europe, this time bringing along his family, to live in Barcelona, Spain for seven years.The international recognition García Márquez earned with the publication of the novel led to his ability to act as a facilitator in several negotiations between the Colombian government and the guerrillas

The popularity of his writing also led to friendships with powerful leaders, including one with former Cuban president Fidel Castro:

Ours is an intellectual friendship. It may not be widely known that Fidel is a very cultured man. When we’re together, we talk a great deal about literature."

Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, in his 1992 memoir Antes que anocheza (Before Night Falls),  notes that Garcia Márquez accompanied Castro at a 1980 speech in which the latter accused refugees recently gunned-down in the Peruvian embassy of being "riffraff"; Arenas bitterly remembers his fellow writer's "hypocritical applause" for Castro.

Also due to his newfound fame and his outspoken views on U.S. imperialism he was labeled as a subversive and for many years was denied visas by U.S. immigration authorities. However, after Bill Clinton was elected U.S. president, he finally lifted the travel ban and claimed that García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude was his favorite novel. There is a street in East Los Angeles, CA bearing his name

García Márquez was inspired to write a dictator novel when he witnessed the flight of Venezuelan dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez. He shares, "it was the first time we had seen a dictator fall in Latin America." García Márquez began writing Autumn of the Patriarch (El otoño del patriarca) in 1968 and said it was finished in 1971;
  My intention was always to make a synthesis of all the Latin American dictators, but especially those from the Caribbean.

In 1999, García Márquez was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. Chemotherapy provided by a hospital in Los Angeles proved to be successful, and the illness went into remission.

As of March 2008 his most recent novel is Memories of My Melancholy Whores (Memoria de mis putas tristes), a love story that follows the romance of a 90-year old man and a pubescent concubine, that was published in October 2004. This book caused controversy in Iran, where it was banned after the initial 5,000 copies were printed and sold.

On his death in April 2014, Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Colombia, described him as "the greatest Colombian who ever lived".

Fernando Botero  (born 19 April 1932): He is a renowned sculptor and painter. His signature style, also known as "Boterismo", depicts people and figures in large, exaggerated volume, which can represent political criticism or humor, depending on the piece. He is considered the most recognized and quoted living artist from Latin America, and his art can be found in highly visible places around the world, such as Park Avenue in New York City and the Champs Elysées in Paris.

Sofía Vergara Vergara (born July 10, 1972): Vergara rose to prominence while co-hosting two television shows for Spanish-language television network Univisión in the late 1990s. Her first notable acting job in English was in the film Chasing Papi (2003). Subsequently, she appeared in other films, including Four Brothers (2005) and two Tyler Perry films: Meet the Browns (2008) and Madea Goes to Jail (2009), receiving an ALMA Award nomination for the latter. Vergara's success on television has earned her roles in films The Smurfs (2011), New Year's Eve (2011), Happy Feet Two (2011), The Three Stooges (2012), Escape from Planet Earth (2013), Machete Kills (2013), Chef (2014), and Hot Pursuit (2015). In 2012, 2013, and 2016, she was the top-earning actress on US television.

On May 1, 2015, it was reported that Vergara and her former fiance Loeb were in dispute regarding the future of two embryos. These embryos were produced by in vitro fertilization while they were together and are in storage in cryopreservation in a medical clinic in California.In December 2016, a right-to-live lawsuit against Vergara was initiated in Louisiana by three plaintiffs, namely Vergara's embryos, named "Emma" and "Isabella", and their "trustee", James Charbonnet. The purpose of the suit is to give the embryos a chance to further develop using a surrogate carrier, hence to be born, and to benefit from an inheritance trust that had been created for them and is administered by Charbonnet. While a contract between Vergara and Loeb had been signed prior to the creation of the embryos stipulating that neither party could use the embryos without the consent of the other, the lawsuit tries to void this agreement. The suit also tries to terminate parental rights of Vergara because by keeping them in a tank in a medical clinic she allegedly abandoned and neglected the embryos. Loeb is not part of the law suit. The legal case is novel and takes advantage of Louisiana's embryo laws.

Famous Colombian Musicians include Shakira, Carlos Vives and Juanes.

Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll (born in 1977) is a Colombian singer-songwriter, dancer, record producer, choreographer, and model. Born and raised in Barranquilla, she began performing in school, demonstrating Latin, Arabic, and rock and roll influences and belly dancing abilities. Shakira released her first studio albums, Magia and Peligro, in the early 1990s, failing to attain commercial success; however, she rose to prominence in Latin America with her major-label debut, Pies Descalzos (1996), and her fourth album, Dónde Están los Ladrones? (1998). Her success was solidified with her sixth and seventh albums Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 and Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 (2005), the latter of which spawned the best-selling song of the 21st century. Her official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)", became the biggest-selling World Cup song of all time. With over 720 million views, its music video is the seventh most-watched video on YouTube. Shakira has won many awards, including five MTV Video Music Awards, two Grammy Awards, eight Latin Grammy Awards, seven Billboard Music Awards, 28 Billboard Latin Music Awards and has been Golden Globe-nominated. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and she is one of the best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 60 million records worldwide.

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