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Colombia: Anti-Personnel Mines and the “Remángate” Campaign

April 4, 2011, marked the celebration of the International Day of Awareness for Anti-Personnel Mines. In Colombia, the Presidential Program for Integral Action against Anti-personnel Mines (Paicma) [es] joined corporate groups [es] and social organizations to promote the “Remángate” (roll it up) campaign whose concept is explained on its website [es]:

El concepto de la campaña es “Por un día, pongámonos en su zapato” y la acción que esperamos es El 4 de abril TODOS ¡a remangarse! La campaña será divulgada a través de las redes sociales en las que todos los colombianos serán convocados a participar activamente en un acto simbólico que consiste en remangarse [subirse] una pierna del pantalón para manifestarse y así generar un impacto de opinión.

The concept of the campaign is that “For one day, we put ourselves in their shoes” and the action that we expect from everyone on April 4 is to roll up their pant legs!  The campaign will be spread through social networks to which all Colombians will be called upon to actively participate in a symbolic act that consists of rolling up one pant leg to make themselves known and, as such, generate an impact of opinion.

With respect to this reality in Colombia, that same website states [es]:

La problemática en nuestro país es tal, que después de Afganistán somos el país con mayor número de nuevas víctimas en el mundo; en el año 2010 tuvimos 512 víctimas de minas antipersonal; desde 1990 hasta febrero de 2011, 9.133 personas han sido víctimas de este flagelo, de las cuales 870 son menores de edad, 3.408 civiles y 5.725 militares; en lo que va corrido del año 71 personas han sido víctimas.

The problem in our country is such that after Afghanistan, we are the country with the highest number of new victims in the world; in the year 2010, we had 512 victims of anti-personnel mines; from 1990 to February of 2011, 9,133 people have been victims of this calamity, of which 870 were minors, 3,408 civilians and 5,725 soldiers; thus far this year, 71 people have been victims.

The campaign relies on a website [es], a Twitter account (@remangate) [es] and a hashtag [es] through which one could (and can) follow different opinions, such as that of Gustavo Gutiérrez (@Jahman2011), who asks:

Y tras la campaña de remangate… Qué se ha hecho por los territorios minados?

And after the “remangate” campaign… What has been done for the mined territories?

9000 shoes in the Plaza Bolívar – Bogotá, Colombia – April 4, 2011 (From Flickr user Airín under license CC by 2.0)

Nevertheless, “Remángate” does not represent the only time that anti-personnel mines have been tackled as an Internet trend. SinMinasColombia (Colombia without mines), for example, talks about the practice of scattering anti-personnel mines by illegally armed groups [es] and the difficulty that the unavailability of maps of the mined areas presents:

Los grupos armados ilegales hacen uso de las minas antipersonal. Algunos de estos grupos han fabricado armas-trampa aprovechando objetos aparentemente inofensivos como radios, latas de comida e incluso juguetes. (…) A lo anterior se suma la casi inexistente disponibilidad de mapas de las áreas minadas y la falta de señalización de las mismas, lo cual dificulta enormemente las actividades de prevención de accidentes y la remoción de estos artefactos, incrementando los riesgos para la población.

Illegally armed groups make use of anti-personnel mines. Some of these groups have built trap-weapons taking advantage of objects that appear harmless such as radios, cans of food, even including toys. (…) Add to that the almost non-existent availability of maps of mined areas and the lack of signs for these things, which makes prevention of accidents and removal of these devices extremely difficult, thus increasing the risks for the population.

The same website publishes a section under the name “What To Do In Case You Are Affected By A Mine?” [es].

Remángate, April 4, 2011 – Photo by Flickr user CAUT (César Alejandro Uribe Tovar), used with permission

The blog Constitución y Ciudadanía links to [es] a UNICEF campaign called “No more anti-personnel mines,” whose informants affirm that in Colombia, every 12 hours someone is a victim of an anti-personnel mine [es].

On their website, Campaña Colombiana contra minas (The Campaign Against Mines) brings forth an explanation of what the GTO-14 is and does [es] as a group of civil society organizations that work against the anti-personnel mines and participated a great deal in the organization of the “Remángate” campaign.

Hablando joven makes its contribution, giving reference at the start of March to the extension solicited by Colombia to complete the elimination of mines in their entirety [es]:

Para poder cumplir con la Convención sobre la Prohibición de Minas Antipersonales, que se firmó en 1998 en Ottawa, Colombia ha pedido una prórroga de 10 años, después de haber concluido la etapa de la eliminación de las minas sembradas por las propias Fuerzas Armadas para la defensa de las bases militares.

In order to be able to comply with the Convention for the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines, which was signed in Ottawa in 1998, Colombia has asked for an extension of 10 years, after having concluded the period of elimination of scattered mines by the proper Armed Forces for the defense of military bases.

Finally, the video used to invite people to participate in “Remángate” can be seen here.

Links of Interest:

- PAICMA Twitter Account [es] (publishes statistics frequently)

- Photo Gallery for the Remángate campaign [es] (through the PAICMA website)

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