Sunday, February 8, 2015


I have already told the story of Simon Bolivar in the page on Bolivia. The land he founded was originally named Gran Colombia, and today's Colombia, alongside Venezuela and Ecuador, were the other countries to come into being when that fatal dream woke up to buendian reality in 1830. A land of emeralds and coffee and gold and silver and platinum and coal – but mostly drugs. The problem in Colombia - which is generally the problem throughout the human realm, but never so starkly obvious as in Colombia - is that the rebel armies, whether of the far-left or the far-right, are not really rebel armies at all, nor of the far left, nor of the far right. They are simply bandits, warlords, tribal chieftains, or other wannabe dictators, who build para-military organisations around themselves both for the defence and for the expansion of their private empires, and who then paint a cosmetic layer of ideological maquillage upon the surface, in order to establish a propaganda base for support amongst those too scared to deny them support anyway, and a credible basis for negotiations with those they are seeking to overthrow.

Of all the many drug-lords in Colombia, none was more successful than Pablo Escobar, a particularly vicious and ruthless cocaine-grower and trafficker who ran the Medillin cartel (Medillin is Colombia's second city) and controlled about 80% of the country's exports to the United States, until he was killed in 1993. Colombia is also the land of Gabriel Garcia Marquez; it was Marquez who invented magical realism; and it is only within the realm of magical realism that our particular way of remembering a man like Escobar can be remotely plausible. And yet it is so. Travel to Medillin today, and you can take the "Escobar Tour", a pilgrimage around the shrines of this supposed latter-day Robin Hood, the tenth richest man in the world at one point, a man whom the citizens of Medillin continue to revere for his charitable work and his love of soccer, quite forgetting the popeyed brutality of his murder of literally thousands of his fellow-citizens.

While Escobar was running Medillin, most of southern Colombia was in the hands of the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia or People’s Army), another thinly disguised "political" army in the image of Bolivar and Buendia. The FARC began negotiating for peace in 2012, but you still don’t travel by car into the countryside south of Bogota for fear of kidnapping. The UK government’s travel advisory in 2012 stated: “there is a high threat from terrorism, with continued, indiscriminate attacks targeting government buildings, public transport, public spaces, and other areas frequented by foreigners.” I made that journey in 2014 and it was probably no more dangerous than the threat of joyriders on the M25 late on a Saturday evening, though the talks have not yet produced any results, beyond a certain amount of handing-in of rifles.

Colombia, of course, is part of that great continent of the north and south Americas, whose existence was completely unknown, even to itself, until Christopher Columbus discovered it in 1492, and those lands entirely empty of human beings could at last become populated - blessed be the name of Christopher Columbus. How exactly this statement concurs with the existence of ancient megalithic alignments, of remarkable similarity to those in the Carnacs of both Egypt and Britanny, the gilgalim of Bethel and Stonehenge, the ziggurats and step-temples of Babylon, is something that can only be attributed to the settling of aliens from other planets in the millennia before the era of common stupidity. Like the Disneyland of Pablo Escobar, alien-tours of Colombia are also available. While the world will always be grateful for the genius of Marquez, Colombia will be a better place when it grows out of magical realism, and enters adult realism instead.

Marks For: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Fernando Botero

Marks Against: Pablo Escobar

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
All rights reserved
The Argaman Press

No comments:

Post a Comment