Beyond BogotŠ: Diary of a Drug War Journalist in Colombia

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Beacon Press, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 268 pages
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A firsthand account of Colombia's turmoil by a journalist who was held captive by rebel guerrillas
Independent journalist Garry Leech has spent the last eight years working in the most remote and dangerous regions of Colombia, uncovering the unofficial stories of people living in conflict zones. Beyond BogotŠ is framed around the eleven hours that Leech was held captive by the FARC, Colombia's largest leftist guerrilla group, in August of 2006. He recalls nearly thirty years of travel and work in Latin America while weaving in a historical context of the region and on-the-ground reporting with each passing hour of his detention.†More than $5 billion in U.S. aid over the past seven years has failed to end Colombia's civil conflict or reduce cocaine production. Leech finds that ordinary Colombians, not drug lords, have suffered the most and that peasants and indigenous peoples have been caught in the crossfire between the armed groups. Meanwhile, more than thirty Colombian journalists have been murdered over the last three decades, making Colombia one of the most dangerous countries in which to practice journalism. Consequently, the majority of the Western media rarely leave BogotŠ to find the real story. Leech, however, learns the truth about the conflict and the U.S. war on drugs directly from the source: poor coca farmers whose fields and food crops have been sprayed with toxic aerial fumigations, female FARC guerrillas who see armed struggle as their only option, union organizers whose lives are threatened because they defend workers' rights, indigenous peoples whose communities have been forcibly displaced by the violence, and many others.†Leech also investigates the presence of multinational oil and mining companies in Colombia by gaining access to army bases where U.S. soldiers train Colombian troops to fight the guerrillas in resource-rich regions and by visiting local villages to learn what the foreign presence has meant for the vast majority of the population.†Drawing on unprecedented access to soldiers, guerrillas, paramilitaries, and peasants in conflict zones and cocaine-producing areas, Leech's documentary memoir is an epic tale of a journalist's search for meaning in the midst of violence and poverty, as well as a humanizing firsthand account that supplies fresh insights into U.S. foreign policy, the role of the media, and the plight of everyday Colombians caught in the midst of a brutal war.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - SeriousGrace - LibraryThing

I think if goes without saying Columbia is one of the most dangerous places to be a journalist. Why an independent journalist would go there specifically to be a "drug war journalist," as Leech has ... Read full review

Beyond Bogot√ƒ¬°: diary of a drug war journalist in Colombia

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In this arresting hybrid of journalism and memoir Leech relates his experiences investigating political, economic, and drug-related stories throughout Latin America. The narrative is organized into 11 ... Read full review

Selected pages


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Timeline 19482007

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About the author (2009)

Garry Leech is an independent journalist and editor of Colombia Journal. For the past eight years his work has primarily focused on the US war on drugs and Colombia's civil conflict. He is the author of several books including Crude Interventions: The United States, Oil and the New World (Dis)Order(Zed Books, 2006) and Killing Peace: Colombia's Conflict and the Failure of US Intervention (Inota, 2002). He also teaches international politics at Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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