Steven Dudley

Steven Dudley is a journalist living in Bogota. He reports regularly for The Washington Post and National Public Radio

Recent Articles

The Colombia Quagmire

R ealizing that darkness was quickly approaching, the naval sergeant frantically pulled out his yellow lighter and tried to get a flame going. But it did not light, so he turned to his fellow soldier for help. "Do you have any matches?" he asked. For an interview with the author, see Colombia's War from the Ground Up The soldier shook his head. "What about you?" he said, turning to the informant who had led them to this point. But he did not have any, either. Desperate, the sergeant turned to me. "Sorry," I responded. "Ah, forget it," he said, throwing the lighter to the ground and walking away. The drums the sergeant so badly wanted to torch were part of a cocaine-processing laboratory in the middle of the jungle in the forgotten southern Colombian province of Putumayo. Lying along the Colombian-Ecuadoran border, just north of the Amazon basin, Putumayo is home to 330,000 people, most of them small farmers who colonized the area after fleeing violence or economic despair in other...