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Colombian Contrasts: Bush, Spanish Royalty, literature, kidnapping, internet week and free hugs.

Free Hugs in MedellinJulio Alejandro Camelo sums up the state of Colombia and its blogosphere succinctly in ColombiaHoy, where he zooms from celebrations to funerals, from excess in receiving foreign visitors to famine in the Choco region, from the value of family to corruption:

Colombia, en definitiva, es un país folclórico. Pasamos de lo trágico a lo cómico, quizás a lo intrascendente, con una facilidad que asombra.

Colombia is definitely a folkloric country. We go from tragedy to comedy to the, perhaps, insignificant with surprising ease.

This is certainly reflected in the selection of blog posts from Colombia.

Via BlogsColombia, a harsh critique was written by El Editor de el Planeta en Pantaloneta on blogger apathy, regarding the lack of blogger participation covering Bush´s visit to the capital city of Bogota:

Balance negativo para los blogs de Colombia. Su influencia en el paisaje mediático colombiano es muy débil. Muchos blogs acusan a los grandes medios del monopolio de la información, pero en este caso la culpa es de la timidez de muchísimos bloggers.

A point against Colombian blogs. Their influence on the media landscape in Colombia is very weak. Many blogs accuse mass media for monopolizing information but in this case the blame lies on the shyness of many bloggers.

To this, Carlos Raúl van der Weyden Velásquez of The Colombia Herald replied with a post full of videos and pictures of the citizen coverage of Bush´s visit [EN]:

It’s true, as for citizen journalism, Colombian blogosphere has long a way to go, but it’s not so easy when the police is more likely to seize your camera for taking pictures of the demonstrations rather than avoiding vandals to loot and destroy businesses.

However, Bush isn´t the only visitor who fell under bloggers’ scrutiny: The Spanish Royal Family and their large entourage were also in the crossfire. Via Oh! Medellin, Caruri from equinoXio comments on their visit commemorating the Spanish language, a grammar handbook to be written in Medellin, literature, and its effect, or more appropriately, the complete lack of an effect on citizens.

Medellín, dos días después, se encontró en su misma soledad mediterránea –en el sentido estricto- supo que de toda esa efervescencia quedaron los titulares, las fotos, los videos, los archivos de noticias de sociedad, y la esperanza de que en alguna oportunidad, ojalá más arcana que lejana, en otros lares, regiones o países de habla española, se acuerden de que fueron don Álvaro Uribe y Vélez, y don Sergio Fajardo y Valderrama, los varones ilustres de las Indias Actuales quienes se gastaron una millonada –desconocida aún entre los plebeyos- para que la ciudad estuviera en muchas bocas mientras dura un suspiro.

Medellin, two days later, found itself in its own Mediterranean solitude – in the strictest sense- and knew that, out of all this effervescence, the only reminders left would be the headlines, pictures, videos, society blurbs clipped and archived and the hope that in some other opportunity, hopefully more arcane than far away, in some other place, region or Spanish speaking country, it will be remembered that don Álvaro Uribe y Vélez and don Sergio Fajardo y Valderrama, the esteemed gentlemen from the Modern Indies spent millions – unknown among the plebeians- so that the city´s name would be in many mouths just for a heartbeat.

Literature, or rather, the simple act of writing letters is the catalyst for Mauricio Duque Arrubla´s article where he prompts not only Colombian bloggers but also those from around the world to follow this initiative and tag their letters with the word “persistencia”:

Este será el lanzamiento de la convocatoria Cartas de la persistencia, abierta al público entre el 12 de abril y el 12 de julio de 2007. Se trata de una invitación a que todos los colombianos (los que viven dentro y fuera del país) le cuenten a alguien que ya no está, a quien está lejos, a un desconocido, a un familiar o a un amigo su victoria cotidiana y personal y la manera en que sacan fuerza para seguir viviendo a pesar de las situaciones adversas o los actos violentos.

This will launch the announcement of “Letters of Persistence”, open to all public between April 12th and July 12th 2007. This is an invitation to all Colombians (those living inside and outside the country) to tell someone who is no longer here, who is far away, a stranger, a family member or a friend about their daily and personal victories and the way in which they gather strength to go on living in spite of adverse situations or violent acts.

The Colombian blogosphere is also preparing for the Internet Week:

Con el propósito de incentivar la participación, movilización y sensibilización de los ciudadanos en las oportunidades de Internet y uso de las TICs (tecnologías de la Información y Comunicaciones), enREDo realizará la I versión de la Semana de Internet en Colombia del 14 al 17 de Mayo 2007.

With the express purpose to incentivate participation, awareness and mobility to citizens regarding internet oportunities and usage of Communication and Information technologies, enREDo is organizing the I version of Internet WEek in Colombia from May 14th to the 17th of 2007.

In Medellin, a blog has been made to organize bloggers for a meetup/event to compliment enREDo's Bogota activities.

Another call to action is made by Octav in Crítica Destructiva, this time regarding those who are kidnapped:

Hay más de 3 mil colombianos secuestrados en este momento, lo cual bajo ninguna circunstancia es admisible … Libertad inmediata y sin condiciones para todos los secuestrados.

There are more than 3 thousand Colombians kidnapped at this moment, which under no circumstance should be allowed … Immediate and unconditional liberty to all those who are kidnapped.

Jaime Restrepo from Atrabilioso, writes on statistics and although there are less kidnappings in number than in past years, there is still a very long way to go:

Mientras UN solo colombiano esté secuestrado, TODOS los colombianos estaremos secuestrados, pues solo será cuestión de tiempo para que ese flagelo se acerque y toque las puertas de nuestros amigos, de nuestras familias o de nuestra propia casa.

As long as there´s even ONE kidnapped Colombian, ALL Colombians will be kidnapped, since it is just a matter of time until this pain comes and knocks on the doors of our friends, our families or even our own.

Finally, in El Chaos, Evelio Ramírez reminds us that even though bad things happen in Colombia, there is a lot of good going on to balance it out. He posts a superbly edited video of the Free Hug Campaign that took place in Medellin.


  • […] Ya se está calentando esto: en blogscolombia, enREDo y aparecemos como colaboradores para la semana de internet, y ya estamos enlazados. […]

  • Colombia – Very kool. Have recently spent a few months in Colombia and that includes the so called no go zones in rural Colombia. HA! Sure there is police presence. Great! Sure there is military presence. Great! Looks fine to me. Traveled freely throughout the country. No problems. No hassles. People doing everything to overcome the world perception that somehow Colombia is just plain not hospitable. NOT TRUE. Everyone was fabulous. Rural Colombia has home stays, farm stays, adventure packages like rafting, mountain biking, horse pack trips, antiquities like San Agustin, Garzon for a hub service allowing day trips throughout to Hobo, Gigante, la Jagua, and elsewhere. Fabulous. Festivals, Arts, the most amazing group of fruit growing regions, of course coffee, rice, bamboo, and fish farming, yes fish farming something Huila Region has been doing for over 25 years with great success. This last month March 2007 Travel+Leisure Magazine features the “good” of Colombia and also Colombia just won a world award in tourism marketing. The opportunities are only left to the imagination. Great Country. Would return in a heartbeat!

  • […] there were several digital precursors to this action.  Back in the spring of 2007, bloggers started talking about their own lack of political engagement.  One blogger even wrote about the FARC: “There […]

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