Another bitter joke

Heard on the radio on the way to work:

What’s the difference between a patrón (a boss) and a terrorist?

You can negotiate with a terrorist.

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This is beautiful

In 2003 there was a terrorist attack in a Bogotá Club called El Nogal in which 36 people died, widely thought to have been perpetrated by the FARC.

Martha Anorocho lost a son in the attack and another son was left brain-damaged.

A couple of weeks ago she came face to face with a demobilized FARC guerrilla called Regis Ortiz, who approached her to ask for her forgiveness, although he was not personally involved in the attack.

They embraced and later Martha said It was the meeting of two human beings who need to move on and who are prepared to have a country without victims.

Six million more hugs like this and we might be getting somewhere.

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Trust in public institutions wanes

A recent survey found that confidence in Colombia’s public institutions –

the congress, the courts, the government and so on, was falling.

Only two institutions enjoyed positive ratings: the Catholic Church and the armed forces.

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Talk about rubbing our face in it

It was interesting to see advertising in Medellín featuring Argentinian football star, Lionel Messi, inviting us to visit Buenos Aires, the Argentinian capital.

Interesting because it highlights the increasing mobility and spending power of Colombian’s middle and upper classes.

But I thought it was a bit tactless to include in the advertising the fact that Buenos Aires is the host city for the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics.

Medellín AND Glasgow both failed in their bids to host the event.

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A pleasing occurence on the metro

It was pleasing to see someone reading the life and works of Robert Louis Stevenson, that quintessentially Edinburgh writer, in Spanish, on the Medellín metro.

I wanted to tap the reader on the shoulder and say, He was Scottish, you know.

And no doubt, being Colombian, the person would have thanked me politely and with a smile, and if he thought I was a nutter, it wouldn’t have shown on his face.

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How the FARC think

You may have seen the news that the Colombian peace talks were put on hold after the FARC captured a general, the first time that has happened in 50 years of conflict.

Thankfully it seems that the general and 4 other hostages will be released soon, but a statement by a FARC spokesman caught my attention.

He said something like this:

The Minister of Defence needs to explain what the general was doing in a war zone. It’s as if one of the FARC delegates to the peace talks in Havana went to the National Park in Bogotá and was arrested.

What I find startling about this is the equivalency that exists in the FARC’s mind between the actions of an insurgency group, reviled by the vast majority of the Colombian people, and those of a democratically-elected government.

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Dog on the line

On Thursday, at the metro station where I change trains, I noticed that the train going the other way had been waiting a long time at the platform, and that our train was sitting at the next station, which you can see up the line.

Then two young policemen came along the track. Carrying torches, they searched along the length of the train.

It’s a dog, someone cried. We all craned our necks to see.

It’s come out, someone else said.

A minute or two later and we were on our way. But at the next station, some firemen met our train, to look for…what? What was left of the dog?

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An important part of Colombian cultural life

Last weekend was the annual Miss Colombia competition and if you want a measure of how incredibly seriously it is taken, the winning department, Sucre, on the coast, where we go often, gave its public servants a half-day holiday to celebrate.

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A couple of follow-ups

I am liking the honest beggar more and more. The other day I saw him hand over part of his breakfast to someone poorer than he is.

And when I mentioned the 9 motorbike accidents the last taxi driver had seen to another taxi driver, he said: I’ve seen 7 today.

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