When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

EL ESPECTADOR

Why Colombia's Booming Car Sales Is Bad News

The fact that people are buying cars is touted as a good sign for the economy, which you can think about while you're stuck in traffic or breathing in rising pollution.

In Medellin, crossing the street is bad for your health.
In Medellin, crossing the street is bad for your health.
Mario Fernando Prado

-OpEd-

BOGOTA — Colombians bought about 30,000 cars in September, the top sales figures for any month this year and 20% more than in September 2013. Forecasts predict car sales of 8% more in 2014 than in 2013, which means our streets and motorways will have about 320,000 new cars on the roads, besides the motorbikes that are also seeing an enormous spike in sales.

All of this is frightening, because there is no proportionality between the practically uncontrolled growth in Colombia's number of cars and the number of streets, avenues and highways.

The disproportion is a daily reality seen in the rush-hour taffic that chokes both big cities and little towns such as Popayán, the "white city" where traffic jams are equally crazy.

Neither the strictest car restriction schemes nor parking fines — nor indeed the dearth of meters, which encourages parking offenses — has managed to dampen the "fun" of driving a new car, one of consumer culture's many deceitful enticements.

There are quite simply not enough roads for so many cars, and nobody seems to be proposing solutions. The dealers, assembly plants and importers are of course happy. Who would spurn a 20% increase in sales? No city seems to have a master plan, and even fewer a budget to provide space for all the cars that are polluting the air and making us suffocate.

What should be done? Promote other means of getting around such as bikes and public transportion, which needs to be improved, as well as a walking culture. And for that, we need better sidewalks, more services and safeguards for pedestrians. Only when such measures are in place can anyone truly celebrate a boom in car sales.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Sources

Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

Photo of women walking in Ecuador

Women walking in Guangaje Ecuador

Camila Albuja

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest