John Otis

Wearing headphones and speaking into a microphone, Mónica Córdoba conducts an interview at a newly opened public radio station in the northern Colombian town of Ituango. It's her first formal job in radio, but she's comfortable in the studio.

That's because Córdoba spent years working for a clandestine radio station operated by the Marxist guerrilla group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Broadcasting from Andean Mountain hideouts, she and her five-person team produced news programs, rebel propaganda and even radio soap operas.

On the green slopes of the Andes Mountains in northern Colombia, farmers are raising chickens, goats and cows and tending to corn crops. It's a striking change from their previous occupation: battling government troops as members of a Marxist guerrilla group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC.

Thousands of guerrillas laid down their weapons under an historic 2016 peace agreement that ended 52 years of fighting. Among its many provisions is one requiring that the government provide protection from reprisals to ex-FARC fighters.

Guides hand out knee-high rubber boots before leading visitors on hikes around Gorgona National Park, an island 21 miles off Colombia's Pacific coast. The boots provide traction in the mud — and protection from poisonous snakes.

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When Colombia's long guerrilla war ended, the country was able to open up new areas to tourism, including some areas that are not for people who spook easily. Gorgona is a snake-infested island that once housed a penal colony, and reporter John Otis went there.

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The latest country shaken by anti-government demonstrations is Colombia. Days of protests have been serious enough that President Ivan Duque says he will meet the protesters today. Reporter John Otis has more.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

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Bolivia is better known for snow-capped mountains than sun-drenched vineyards, but the landlocked South American nation is starting to turn heads for award-winning wine.

After he was reelected to a third term in 2014, President Evo Morales attended a symbolic swearing-in ceremony at the ancient ruins of Tiwanaku in western Bolivia, wearing an embroidered gown and headdress of an Incan emperor.

Now, as Bolivia's first president of Indigenous descent attempts to win a fourth consecutive term in the Oct. 20 election, critics contend that Morales is acting more like an emperor than a president.

Six volunteer firefighters use machetes to cut a path through the vines and underbrush of the Chiquitano forest in Bolivia's eastern lowlands. They're approaching the leading edge of a fire that's been burning for hours.

They attempt to smother it with shovelfuls of dirt and water they carry on their backs in tanks normally used to fumigate crops. But the smoke is getting thicker, the heat stronger and swirling winds push the flames forward. Realizing they are overmatched, José Zapata, the only trained firefighter among the group, orders his men to pull out.

Patricia Santiago and her family were forced to flee their home near Colombia's Caribbean coast after complaining about neighborhood dope dealers who, in turn, threatened to kill them. But in an odd twist, Santiago now works in the drug trade — at a medical marijuana facility.

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Jesús Parra spent four years as a police officer in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. He patrolled the streets, provided security at events and even guarded political prisoners. Now, he parks cars at a funeral home for spare change in the Colombian city of Cúcuta.

This is not what Parra, 27, had in mind when he deserted the police force and sneaked across the Colombian border in March.

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Amid the worst economic meltdown in Venezuela's history — a crisis that has forced thousands of businesses to shut their doors — one unlikely product is flying off the shelves: the equivalent of Venezuelan tequila.

Called cocuy, the alcoholic beverage was first produced by indigenous groups 500 years ago. It has long been stigmatized as moonshine for drunks and poor people. But with hyperinflation driving up the cost of beer, wine and conventional spirits, many Venezuelans are turning to this drink of their ancestors, which is easier on the pocketbook.

At a primary school in a middle-class neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, the students' parents play an outsize role.

Gasoline shortages have collapsed public transportation, making it hard for teachers to get to work. Others skip class to scrounge for food and medicine, both of which are in short supply in Venezuela. Due to low salaries, some teachers have quit.

That's why Karen Benini, the mother of a sixth-grader, often steps in to substitute even though she lacks a teacher's certificate.

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Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world - almost 300 billion barrels of oil lie beneath its territory. But Venezuela is running out of gasoline. As John Otis reports, the shortages have led to epic lines for gas.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Foreign language spoken).

At a soup kitchen in the western Venezuelan city of Maracaibo, hungry and bedraggled men, women and children line up for free lunch. But it's meager fare: They each get a bottle of milk and a few scoops of rice mixed with eggs and vegetables.

Just a few years ago, the lunch program, which is run by the Catholic Church, provided full meals with meat and chicken, as well as fruit juice and even dessert. But amid a deep economic depression and an outbreak of looting in the city, dozens of Maracaibo businesses that used to donate food have closed down.

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