Blurb from Colombia

This is a bit I wrote in my journal from our 2017 trip to Colombia. I’m struck by how I describe Colombia so similarly to Vietnam.

December 22, 2017

Colombia is beautiful. It is colorful, loud, dirty, passionate, and engages every sense. I wonder if our first taste of South America will be topped.

We took a walking tour of the city on our first day. Our guides stated their mission as changing our perception of Colombia and showing us the good.

They mentioned the FARC and the recent peace agreement with the government. I recalled seeing headlines of the general population’s unhappiness with said agreement.

I can’t help but think these two things are related.

Hailed internationally as a success for diplomacy, the agreement ended decades of fighting between the Colombian government and the FARC, or the guerilla military wing of the drug cartels. And yet, the Colombian people didn’t want peace. I imagine this sentiment to be in the same vein as our guides’ mission. To settle for peace was to grant the FARC a legitimacy. By granting the FARC a seat at the table (our guide mentioned they plan to run a presidential candidate next year), the legacy the FARC represents can never truly be erased.

And there is a point to be had, here.

Before coming to Colombia, nearly every response to our trip was either drug related or security related because of what drugs had done. Indeed, nearly the entirety of public consciousness regarding Colombia is related to its history with drugs. Admittedly, in the planning stages of our trip, I was drawn to Medellin almost solely because of its proximity to one, Pablo Escobar. (I have since been told that Medellin is the cultural crown jewel of the country, something that causes some regret in our decision to neglect it.)

I wonder the toll that takes on a people. To be depicted internationally, or at least in the US, as a nation solely comprised of drug cartels and corrupt governments, it’s no wonder an intense desire to combat this legacy arises.

A desire that drives multilingual 20-somethings to lead free walking tours.

A desire that drives a country to respond negatively to a peace agreement that ends a decades long civil war.

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