The right surname, the right school, the right country club, entitled citizens.
Like most people, I watched the events of the 10th of September 2020 unfolding in Bogotá in horror and outrage as spontaneous protests – sparked by the killing of an unarmed father of two, Javier Ordoñez at the hands of the police – across the Colombian capital descended into violence and mayhem. Javier Ordoñez was the victim of police brutality, there is
“Papi, did you hear anything?” He asked his father calling along the corridor. “Nothing,” came the reply, even as the dust from fallen masonry and bamboo suggested otherwise. He seemed irritated, as if his absence from his chair in the doorway would cost him customers in need of watch repairs.
Could you come and pick up your post? she asked. The sun’s too strong and I’m looking after myself, you know. Look for the street just off the Calle Átras with a pharmacy on each corner. I know she earns 200 pesos for each envelope delivered, it doesn’t seem fair.
Heralded as the bridge of “reconciliation,” Momposinos believe that road connectivity brings wealth. Instead, cacophonous motorcycles transport day-tripping couples from Magangue here to pass the time posing awkwardly for selfies in colonial doorways and seek accommodation por ratito. Locals feel superior to the visitors and their disapproving expressions speak volumes.
She was offered ten times her daily wage to back a candidate. She chose him because her family did. Colombia’s dead vote for unpaved roads and no running water. This time, nine months after the elections, the urns didn’t burn and the winner is being investigated as life continues uninterrupted.
There is an embarrassment of riches on offer to those seeking out Colombian literature in its original Spanish, versions in English or just books on Colombia written in English. This curated list is by no means complete, blending history, politics, early 20th century love stories, journalism, contemporary horrors and magic realism amongst other genres. But, hopefully it provides a starting point for a love-affair with or a deeper understanding of Colombia.
Despite having suffered Covid-19 at the very end of February 2020, I was not Colombia’s Covid-19 Patient 1. The dubious honour of that moniker has fallen to the unfortunate person listed as Patient 1, on March 6 upon her return home to Colombia from Milan. She’s not really the Patient 1 either, just a number or a helpful footnote which indicates the date when the Colombian government and Ministry of Health became alert to the idea that Covid-19 could have reached these shores.
In a new three-part series now available wherever you get your podcasts, you can hear journalist Nadja Drost giving us a warts and all interview on Colombia Calling about her Crossing of the Darien Gap.
A uncharacteristic quiet hangs over Bogotá as the city considers the current quarantine and the very real possibility that this could be extended for longer, perhaps into April and potentially May. Wind chimes hanging on neighouring balconies are heard for the fist time, residents now wake to birdsong and not the voices of early risers clustered around the corner coffee and empanada vendor.
This is the first in a series of abbreviated and carefully curated lists of the colossal f-*k ups that President Ivan Duque and his government has to face in an average week. These blunders may be self-inflicted (de que me hablas viejo?) or they may be inherited, but all the same, sometimes they are so abundant that we risk losing sight of them all.
A week in the life of President Ivan Duque, in no particular order
The Colombia Calling podcast has been a labour of love since 2013 and I have not earned a penny from it, but my desire is for it to continue and as it becomes more time-consuming and popular, I am asking for a little help from all of our friends and listeners out there to keep Colombia Calling advancing and improving.
The recent demonstrations in Colombia have been called nebulous due to the vast array of causes being promoted, those who support them are being told to pack their bags and head to neighbouring Venezuela to thrive under 21st century socialism and while mass mobilizations take place, the government of President Ivan Duque busies itself with presentations focused on the Plan Nacional de Desarrollo, as if shielded from reality in a Colombian version of the Truman Show.
Are Colombians passionate and patriotic? Yes. Undoubtedly so, Colombians need little excuse to show their colours on any occasion, but in particular when the tricolor march out on to the field in an international football match. They wear their yellow shirts to work – I dare you as a boss to prohibit this practice – but, on the flipside, Colombians can be the most disparaging about their flag, their nation, the politics and the stagnant and tired reality of the unending violence here. Once again, it’s a question of
A friend dropped by and took me to task over the fact that I hadn’t been writing much of late. It’s true. The words haven’t dried up, but sometimes I feel so underwhelmed with the political, social and economic landscape in Colombia and more so with the paltry excuses with which those in charge use to exonerate themselves of any responsiblity, that words alone cannot do events in my adopted homeland any justice.
If Locombia wasn’t so depressingly repetitive, it would be a hilarious vindication of Jaime Garzón‘s insights – “¡Ahora ya todo volvió a la anormalidad¡” – or
You can feel it, the inescapable sense that intensely painful moments have occurred here in Bogotá’s Bronx. It’s a perception which clings to you upon entry of the old “L,” and stays with you until long afterwards. These ruminations do scant justice to the horrors and suffering which took place here and what this man-made hell on bricks represented, but, now, we all have the opportunity to visit, and to glimpse an infinitesimal sliver of what life was like in Bogotá’s infamous Bronx.
Hard work, a life of service, be it in a photography studio, as a carpenter, a potter or a builder, each of these faces and individuals has a story to tell. This entry here, entitled: “The Faces of Mompós,” has been composed in such a way that the faces tell their own story. I shall only provide a few details about each person and leave the rest to your imagination.
This is Jorge. Jorge has worked on building sites and restorations