Certainly, we all have the right to an opinion and it is quite flattering to awaken such ire from a troll on twitter. If a line is drawn in the sand between left and right and the world is flat, then my troll has fallen off the furthest, most distant land on the right and I can almost see the medieval map in italics: “Here There Be Monsters,” indicating the place of Chechimartinez’s demise.
Upon receiving certain messages on twitter from my troll, “Chechimartinez” (no image), and you can read the comments here as I took screen grabs quickly lest he/ she decided to erase his missives, my reaction was tinged, albeit initially, with a degree of outrage. After all, the Colombia Calling podcast episode in question has been the most well-received of all-time.
Episode 251 was an open and frank conversation with a North American academic, who wished to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, and who has been studying various Zonas de Transición and the reincorporation process of the FARC guerrillas into Colombian society. There have been downloads from places as exotic and far adrift as Savannah, Georgia to Indonesia and feedback has included the high-praise of, “mind-blowing,” from one listener.
Of course, there will be people that think differently, and this is fine. Debate is good. But, to levy the declaration that as a foreigner, I do not have the right to an opinion on former president Alvaro Uribe and current president Ivan Duque, is, immature at best, and ill-informed at worst.
The cherry on top is the following tweet, which was directed at various Colombian establishment entities and journalists. So, I figured that it’s time to clarify a few things that Chechimartinez, my troll, addressed in their tweets. We’ll start with the people and entities that were contacted.
Fiscalia de Colombia: Given that the Fiscal General de la Nación himself is currently under fire for alleged connections to the Odebrecht scandal and two suspicious deaths in the Pinzano family, I am certain that there are more pressing issues being discussed. Anyway, I am not sure why the Attorney General and his team would be interested in a podcast about a reality taking place in the Zonas de Transición as told by an academic with official permission to be there.
Fuerzas Militares: Um, I cannot think why Chechimartinez would want to tell the Colombian Military what they already know?
Policía de Colombia: Why would the police be interested in this podcast?
Cancillería de Colombia: So, Chechimartinez presumably wants me forbidden from Colombia. I think this is probably easier said than done. That my troll is questioning my visa status is interesting also. I do know of foreign journalists here who have been refused journalist visa extensions and I predict this practice continuing in the near future. Clearly this is a troubling move affecting the freedom of speech in Colombia and the freedom of the press. Does Chechimartinez know this? Whatever the case, I’ve moved on from having a journalist visa many years ago. If Chechimartinez wanted to do real damage he would have approached a different government agency, but, I’ll not make it easier for them by naming it here.
US Embassy Bogotá: Just bizarre!
María Fernanda Cabal: Where to start!? I think I’d relish a twitter spat with this one.
Then, finally, in one of the ripostes of tweets from Chechimartinez where he/she makes a reference to the plebiscite referendum on the peace accord in which voters famously opted against the agreement with the FARC. I can respect this just as I can respect President Santos’ motion to push the agreement through Congress instead. There are strong arguments for both sides, but overall, I think we have plenty of fodder of late, with which to state that referendums are not without their flaws. There are relevant claims that referendums are not a more direct form of democracy than other types of elections. This Politico article explains it far more succinctly than I could ever do so, but suffice it to say that “Confusion,” and “Low Voter Participation,” are two of the key issues at play.
And to conclude, that Chechimartinez requested that I get my information from a reputable source, and calls my interviewee “an informant.” I would counter that given that she is a PhD student writing her thesis about this process of reincorporation and has no vested interest in the process aside from seeing and telling the truth from an academic perspective, and has no connection to political parties, government entities in Colombia and beyond, that she is in fact, perhaps the most reputable source available.
This twitter spat has only gone to show the seemingly irreversible divisions in Colombian society. This seems to be the manner of debate for these times.
Bring it on.