Locombia, where abnormality reigns

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 the prose of Louis de Bernieres in Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord.

That Sen. Uribe feels the need to call out to the masses to expound President Duque’s autonomy must only lead us to believe that the former president is weakening his case by using an unnecessary and unconvincing emotional dimension to his argument.

“Yo lo único que digo es que el presidente Iván Duque es un hombre íntegro y autónomo, que Colombia en este año han visto a un presidente y a unos ministros que dan muestra de transparencia en su trabajo”, dijo el senador Álvaro Uribe. (LaFM)

If that wasn’t enough, why can’t Colombians demand some sort of standard of quality from their mainstream journalists – you know who you are – so that our politicians, the country’s patrician class and others are actually held to account. Have we forgotten about Yuliana and the Uribe Noguera family, Reficar, Odebrecht, Hidroituango, the Petro videos and more?

The soft front cover gifted by Semana to President Duque after one year in the presidency

Left, right, centre… whomever, call them out and challenge them! Semana magazine’s laughable President Duque cover piece aside and the debacle of the firing and re-hiring of Daniel Coronell, of course, we are well aware that self-censorship is required in a country which ranks No129 in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index and which saw 477 attacks and threats against journalists (Flip and Guardian). These figures will be higher in 2019.

On a side observation, there is no comparison between a crude and badly composed joke about a politician’s daughter (Amapola, daughter of Sen. Paloma Valencia) and the accusation of being a child rapist. Love him or hate him, Daniel Samper has every right to consult his legal team on this one…again (El Espectador 2017) as indeed he has every right to mock those in power.

In my opinion, the Colombian public should be well aware that when Sen. Paloma Valencia and Sen. Maria Fernanda Cabal are permitted to take centre stage, it’s because what they say has been designed skillfully – probably by the master strategist Sen. Uribe and not by the aforementioned – to create a smokescreen for something else far more nefarious than the “moral outrage,” being spun by these fine representatives.

There’ll be the ubiquitous kick back to this rumination from those out there who’ll accuse me of being a pinko, lily-livered, snowflake, liberal european (not for much longer thank you Brexit), remainer, apologist and starry-eyed peace-monger apologist, but, were I permitted after 13 years here, to vote in the most recent presidential elections, I would neither have voted for Duque nor Petro (but at least this merry-andrew and his team of jesters dancing around a maypole of pseudo-socialism would have actively pursued the peace accords with the FARC).

You can argue, whilst I am on the subject that the referendum on the peace deal presented us with the, “will of the people“. It’s not the will of the people when the “no” vote receives 50.21 per cent and the “yes” vote drew in 49.78 per cent and 62.59 per cent of Colombians chose to abstain from voting.

WOLA’s statement on the October 2016 outcome explains it all best

So, to follow on from the former paragraph and cement my place in the annals of hatred on reddit and other message-boards, I had the honor of translating for an academic from Florida this last week and meeting Sen. Victoria Sandino, who, without a doubt, has a political platform from which to holler, but, she made very knowledgeable points about the challenges to peace in Colombia.

  1. No political will. The focus has changed to security once again rather than social investment. 
  2. The issue of illicit crops. Fumigation has returned and crop substitution is failing.
  3. Land Restitution, delayed or completely abandoned?
  4. Rural reforms, are there any?

Anyway, as you all already know, the mermelada is being spread, as I write this, across the country ahead of the October 2019 regional elections, there have been 627 social leaders and 138 former FARC combatants assassinated between Nov 2016 and May 2019 alone, the Colombian Peso is achingly weak versus the dollar, the government still has no route map, fracking appears to be receiving the green light, coca cultivation is on the rise, criminal gangs are lording it up around the country, the Economist, the BBC and others have nary a positive word (see the final paragraph) to say about the current occupant of the Palacio de Nariño, so, as was written further up the page and to quote once more the inimitable Jaime Garzón QEPD:

“¡Ahora ya todo volvió a la anormalidad¡”

However, unusually, I shall finish on a positive note, one must applaud President Duque’s commitment to aiding the flood of Venezuelans now in Colombia. His motion to grant Venezuelan babies born here citizenship, keep the borders open and give Venezuelans the right to work is something to celebrate. However, I have the sneaking feeling that he has followed this route since there is no other viable option. Had there been…who knows?

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