Wednesday, October 27

Eight books to understand the social explosion in Colombia | Babelia


More than 15 days of national strike in Colombia. The protests that began against the tax reform of President Iván Duque have ended in a social outbreak against structural inequality, a disease endemic to the country.

The covid does not give truce either. 42.5% of the population is in poverty because of the pandemic, a setback of a decade. The peace accords signed with the defunct FARC guerrilla in a parenthesis. In other words, the signed promises that would guarantee a certain tranquility in the interior of Colombia, in the regions with the highest rates of state abandonment, are not fulfilled.

The border with Venezuela in flames due to the clashes between the armed forces of Nicolás Maduro with the rest of the armed groups that keep the citizens of this region under threat and violence, one of the country’s borders, borders for illegal trafficking.

Social protest in the streets of Colombia has become world news and an anomaly in this country, although in the region this has been the usual way to achieve great social progress. Marching here was a symptom of a guerrilla, a communist, a Castro-Chavista, a terrorist. The armed conflict hijacked a few hopes, but also ideas.

How has this situation been reached? Colombian letters have been portraying, remembering and anticipating the history of the country for years.

On the right, Luis Ospina and Andrés Caicedo with another member of the Cali group.
On the right, Luis Ospina and Andrés Caicedo with another member of the Cali group.Courtesy of Luis Ospina

Long live music!, Andres Caicedo (Grijalbo, Mexico / Norma). Caicedo, Cali, the city that has become an emblem of the resistance in Colombia, committed suicide at the age of 25, the same day he received the first copy of his book Long live music! This artist was a mix of Jim Morrison and Holden Caulfield idealized by an early death and by a work that became the bible for several generations. He was a member of the Caliwood group, the work of some friends who changed the history of Colombian cinema during the seventies and eighties. This book, a tribute to rock and salsa, is also a portrait of a city, of social classes. That of an upper-class adolescent tired of her insubstantial life who indulges in the party; and that of the group of Marxist friends in which he is a member. Of a vital event around the country and an ending as sad as some chapters in the history of Colombia. “Never let them make you a grown man, a respectable man. Never stop being a child, ”Caicedo wrote.

The strata, Juan Cardenas (Peripheral). Cities in Colombia are divided into strata. From one to six. Citizens who receive subsidies for services (water, gas, electricity) live in the lowest, one, two and three. In the highest, five and six, those who pay these aid with bills higher than their consumption. The model, unique in the world, was devised in the mid-1990s, in a country that at that time had poverty rates close to 40%, according to data from the Banco de la República. Three decades later, the principle of solidarity that the law was intended to govern has been perverted. Cárdenas portrays this class system almost without mentioning it, in the portrait of a man looking for the woman who took care of him as a child. And that she was more than a low-income worker.

Paola Gaviria signs as Power Paola.  Ecuadorian raised in Colombia, she is the author of 'Tropical Virus' (2009).
Paola Gaviria signs as Power Paola. Ecuadorian raised in Colombia, she is the author of ‘Tropical Virus’ (2009). Power Paola

Virus Tropical, Power Paola (Sixth floor). This is a comic book story from two countries: Ecuador and Colombia. It is also a story of Latin American migration and that feeling of feeling in a no man’s land even though roots have been taken. In this case of the women of a family who learn to live as they live. In other words, they do what they can between Quito and Cali to face the challenges of motherhood, love, adolescence and maturity, in a context of violence that is not always helpful. The city of Cali that Power Paola portrays is the antecedent of the city of these days of protest. The capital of southwestern Colombia, where all the Afro migration from the Pacific coast arrives, fleeing poverty and violence. The city that is one hour from the largest commercial port in Colombia, Buenaventura, also one of the exits for drug trafficking.

This wound full of fish, Lorena Salazar (Editorial Transit). The young writer from Medellín spent part of her childhood in Chocó, in the Colombian Pacific, one of the poorest regions of the country, where inequality and discrimination hit a predominantly black population with the same virulence as armed groups. In this territory of endless rains and unfathomable nature, he wondered what roots and belonging are. This wound full of fish is his answer through the story of a white mother and a black son who travel a river, to whom he transferred the question: where do we belong? Salazar assures that it is not a novel about race or violence, although both issues appear in this land of powerful women.

The land of sad emotions, Mauricio García Villegas (Planet). An essay that is a tribute to Baruch Spinoza and a lucid X-ray of Colombia from the emotions. An explanation of the regrets of the country, the fury and hatred that, as this political scientist, historian and sociologist points out, have impeded its advance and have imbued it in conflicts and a “diffuse, persistent and degrading” political violence. “What is devastating about ours (wars) is their repetition, blurred in time, degrading the parts and producing endemic wounds, like ulcers that never heal,” says García Villegas in this book appropriate to understand the current moment. Features such as intricate geography, the lack of the state in the periphery, parochialism or the legalistic character of society also appear to explain Colombian political culture. Although he does not leave aside the material conditions, the author maintains that it is sad emotions, as Spinoza calls them, hatreds between political factions that have separated the country much more than ideas. And he proposes literature and music as a way to find a way to placid emotions.

The writer Pilar Quintana, at her home in Cali after winning the Alfaguara Prize on January 21, 2021.
The writer Pilar Quintana, at her home in Cali after winning the Alfaguara Prize on January 21, 2021.IVAN VALENCIA

The dog, Pilar Quintana (Literatura Random House). At the center of the story is Damaris, a black woman who longs to be a mother but can’t. The dog It is therefore a book about the desired and frustrated motherhood in a tremendously macho and violent society with women but also a dry and precise trip to abandoned Colombia, which leads readers to enter the dense, overwhelming jungle of the Colombian Pacific with its poverty, their discrimination and racism.

The armies, Evelio Rosero (Tusquets). San José was a peaceful town until an army, no one knows if paramilitaries or guerrillas broke into the quiet life of Ismael, a retired teacher and his neighbors who began to disappear. A massacre, like many of those suffered by dozens of Colombian populations today, devastates life, the social fabric, even the eroticism of that fictitious town. A political novel because it addresses irrational violence as a daily fact in the country and is told from the victims not from the armies.

Stop to move forward, Sandra Borda (Planet). The professor and researcher at the University of Los Andes chronicles the student movement that rose up against the government of Iván Duque in 2019 and is back on the streets today. Borda was the afternoon when a police officer fired a projectile that killed Dilan Cruz, an unarmed young man who became a symbol of the demonstrations and witnessed the protesters peacefully protesting. That fact, the root causes of the strike, the requests of young people whose protests mark a new moment for collective action in Colombia, are in this book that takes effect with the current circumstances.

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