In Colombia time goes in circles

I remember a conversation around three years ago with Richard McColl on his Colombia Calling radio show. We were dismayed at the lack of books on Colombia’s history, and about how Colombians forget, or erase the past.

It wasn’t an original idea. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Hector Abad, Juan Gabriel Vasquez are some of Colombia’s finest writers and each places memory, myth, and the distortion of history at the heart of his novels.

At the start of the epic telenovela about the life of Pablo Escobar, El Patron del Mal, the viewer is reminded that, “he who forgets history is condemned to repeat it”.

And for writers like William Ospina, this inability to keep the facts and errors of history alive is one of the defining features of the Colombian condition. In The Search for Bolivar he tells us Colombians live in a kind of purgatory; where nothing happens but the repetition of the past. “Time wasn’t passing, but going round in circles”, as Ursula says in 100 Years of SolitudeRead more…

Colombia’s politicians make FIFA look legit

Neither Juan Manuel Santos nor Oscar Ivan Zuluaga deserve to be elected president.

Colombians go to the polls a day after “la selección” plays its first World Cup finals game since 1998.

You could excuse them for nursing their hangovers in bed and declining to vote.

On Saturday 14 June, the heroes in yellow and blue will offer hope of a nation at peace with itself, of glory and sporting triumph. On Sunday, the nation’s leaders by contrast offer fear and loathing. Read more…

We’re voting for a president not for peace


Let’s be more than single issue voters. Peace, yes – but what else?

In these elections we’re not really talking about peace, but instead the ‘destruction/demobilization’ of the guerilla groups.

This is a pretty limited view of what the word peace means, and while, yes it is a key consideration in these elections, we must not forget that peace has been the buzz word for every election for about the last 100 years. Read more…