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Colombia

Ideas

A Writer's Advice For How To Read The Words Of Politics

Colombia's reformist president has promised to tackle endemic violence, economic exclusion, pollution and corruption in the country. So what's new with a politician's promises?

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — Don't concentrate on his words, I was once advised, but look at what he's doing. I heard the words so long ago I cannot recall who said them. The point is, what's the use of a husband who vows never to beat his wife in January and leaves her with a bruised face in February?

Words are a strange thing, and in literal terms, we must distrust their meaning. As I never hit anyone, I have never declared that I wouldn't. It never occurred to me to say it. Strangely, there is more power and truth in a simple declaration like "I love her" than in the more emphatic "I love her so much." A verbal addition here just shrinks the "sense" of love.

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"Splendid" Colonialism? Time To Change How We Talk About Fashion And Culture

A lavish book to celebrate Cartagena, Colombia's most prized travel destination, will perpetuate clichéd views of a city inextricably linked with European exploitation.

-Analysis-

BOGOTÁ — The Colombian designer Johanna Ortiz is celebrating the historic port of Cartagena de Indias, in Colombia, in a new book, Cartagena Grace, published by Assouline. The European publisher specializes in luxury art and travel books, or those weighty, costly coffee table books filled with dreamy pictures. If you never opened the book, you could still admire it as a beautiful object in a lobby or on a center table.

Ortiz produced the book in collaboration with Lauren Santo Domingo, an American model (née Davis, in Connecticut) who married into one of Colombia's wealthiest families. Assouline is promoting it as a celebration of the city's "colonial splendor, Caribbean soul and unfaltering pride," while the Bogotá weekly Semana has welcomed an international publisher's focus on one of the country's emblematic cities and tourist spots.

And yet, use of terms like colonial "splendor" is not just inappropriate, but unacceptable.

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Geopolitically, "Latin America" Does Not Exist

The election in Brazil of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) is being hailed by some as the confirmation of Latin American around a shared leftist project, yet even the left can't agree with itself. It's a story that goes back centuries, and can only change with a commitment to move beyond ideology.

-Analysis-

BOGOTÁ — In 1826, the liberator and then president of (a much larger) Colombia, Simón Bolívar, convened the Summit of Panama, in Panama City, with the aim of uniting the recently liberated provinces of the Spanish empire. Bolívar's guest list excluded the United States and imperial Brazil. In spite of good intentions, the summit proved an utter failure.

There was no Latin American integration then, nor is there today, 200 years on, as the continent remains fragmented and divided. In geopolitical terms, there is no Latin America.

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Adiós Castillo: Why Latin America Is Ready To Close The Era Of "Cheap Populism"

The impeachment and arrest of Peru's Leftist president can be taken as perhaps a conclusive signal to the region that populism — from the Left and Right — may have run out of gas.

Modern populism, or "neo-populism," began in Peru with the election in 1990 of President Alberto Fujimori. The notorious arch-conservative leader, who smashed a Maoist rebellion, was a pioneer of the pseudo-arguments one hears to this day within the anti-political circles of populism. He wanted to forge a direct link with "the people" by simplified policy proposals, whipping up emotions and sidelining public institutions. He promised firm government and an end to corruption, only to turn into another violent and corrupt strongman.

Others of his type — in Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador — sought to keep power with the help of favorable economic winds, but eventually (virtually) all fell in the same way, like dominos. And now, we've seen it again in Peru, with the ouster and arrest of former President Pedro Castillo.

It's worth recalling that in the first decade of this century, all South American countries of the Andean region were dominated by the populist phenomenon, whether from the Left or Right. Peru and Venezuela succumbed to blatant authoritarianism though Venezuela's Hugo Chávez was the only one to entirely subdue the country's institutions.

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Society
Catalina Ruiz-Navarro

Parental Rights v. Children Rights? Why Courts Keep Getting It Wrong

Justice works around adults. Keen to uphold parental custody rights, family courts have effectively allowed violence against children by giving abusive parents access. So it is time the legal system stopped ignoring children.

-OpEd-

BOGOTA — Recently a sound recording from Bogotá of a 10-year-old girl crying and pleading not to be made to live with her father went viral online. The father had faced two sets of charges relating to domestic violence and sexual abuse of the girl, who had earlier described to court doctors his inappropriate physical contact.

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Geopolitics
Mauricio Rubio

How Cuban Intelligence Helped Secure Maduro's Grip On Power In Venezuela

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has managed to cling to power after an allegedly rigged 2018 presidential election. He did so with the help of Cuba, having enjoyed "working relations" with Cuban intelligence for decades.

BOGOTÁ — In the late 1980s, Venezuela's Socialist President Nicolás Maduro was a student in Havana, where Cuban intelligence tried to recruit him to promote revolution in Latin America.

Maduro has been president of Venezuela since 2013, following the death of Hugo Chavez. Since taking office, the authoritarian leader has been accused of crimes against humanity and managed to cling to power after attempts to oust him over an allegedly rigged 2018 election.

New evidence has shown how Maduro's formative years in Cuba have helped him cement his grip on power.

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LGBTQ Plus
Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra, Sophia Constantino and Laure Gautherin

LGBTQ+ International: Rainbow Flag On Putin Peak, Lula Relief — And The Week’s Other Top News

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

This week featuring:

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Ideas
Héctor Abad Faciolince

Cancel Culture And Censorship, A Necessary Enemy Of Art

Readers can be unduly critical of authors for a range of reasons, from old-fashioned spite to the modern phenomenon of wokeness. But writers should not consider these people enemies, but rather guides to help dig deeper.

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — There are many types of readers. There is the grammatical one, for example (who chases the ghost of the comma, gerund or misuses of the relative clause), the hedonistic reader (who seeks nothing but pleasure), the studious or critical ones (who will make reading an academic profession).

There is the paranoid reader (who feels alluded to, persecuted and discriminated), the apprentice (for whom a book is a teaching instrument), the insomniac (who uses words to fall asleep or, indeed, stay awake) and the censorious or inquisitorial reader (seeing sins in every passage or an offense to their ideology).

The reader types abound and I have no intention of providing an exhaustive list.

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LGBTQ Plus
Iván Danilo Donato Castillo

So He Wanted To Get Pregnant — The Story Of A Trans Dad Ready To Give Birth

The idea of a man carrying a child only receives attention when it is sensationalist or entertaining. But for trans men like me who want to get pregnant, we face discrimination and danger at all levels — from society, the healthcare system, and even from our own communities.

-Essay-

This is my story.

I found myself lying on my bed on my back, naked, looking at the origami paper boats that hung from my ceiling. To my right, a clock, which showed me that my mother would be home in about two hours. Above me, a groaning cis man — cis meaning someone whose gender identity matches that assigned at birth — collapsed in exhaustion.

"I couldn't hold it," he told me after ejaculating inside of me. Honestly, I never practiced safe sex with him — I didn't really even know what that meant at that age. With him lying on my body, I asked myself for the first time with full awareness, do I want to bear a child?

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

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Economy
Reinaldo Spitaletta

The Folly Of 'Degrowth' Economics — A View From The Global South

Those touting degrowth for the sake of the planet should remember that the majority of the earth's population has yet to taste a fraction of the material prosperity now blamed for destroying the natural world.

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — A Colombian poet once said that to keep the peace in this country, people had to be kept fed. But to do so, profound changes need to be made that will tackle the causes of misery in a place like Colombia. That means industrializing the countryside, creating new fronts in employment, and, above all, developing that thing called capitalism.

James Lovelock, a pioneer of environmentalism, observed years ago that the friends of the earth had their heart in the right place, but not so much in their head. The industrialized world, he said, needn't yank itself back to primitive farming but rather the poorer countries should first industrialize their farming.

This beautiful and long-suffering homeland of ours remains today in the grip of a residual feudalism, with a countryside that grapples systematically, and fearfully, with such regular practices like paramilitaries grabbing fertile plots.

Growing calls to pursue a policy of degrowth in the world's advanced economies jibe very little with life in these parts.

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Ideas
William Ospina

On Our Planet's Future, And The "Art Of The Necessary"

States and technology have failed to stop the destruction of the natural world, but a deceptively simple rethinking of our habits could turn the tide.

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — From Hurricane Ian to Pakistan's catastrophic floods, we have new reminders all the time that the risk of irreparably changing living conditions on the planet is real — and more alarming in scope than we had envisaged.

Yet the solutions so far have been ineffective because it is living beings, not things, which are destroying the world.

We could blame methane from cows, or plastic or the carbon dioxide of fossil fuels, but the culprits are our diets, our use of plastic or our high-tech traveling. Industry may be responsible, but we individuals are the ones who sustain it.

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Society
Julián López de Mesa Samudio

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — October 1st is International Coffee Day. Recently it seems as if every day of the calendar year commemorates something — but for Colombia, coffee is indeed special.

For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

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