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EL ESPECTADOR

Medellin In The 80s: Cartels, Car Bombs And... Punk Rock?

At a time when crime and violence peaked in Colombia's second city, some young people sought refuge in the rough, head-banging vibe of punk music.

A more recent punk pit in Medellin, Colombia
A more recent punk pit in Medellin, Colombia
Leonardo Botero Fernández

MEDELLIN — Things were different then. It was the 1980s. The war was in full swing, the violence more obvious. And in Medellin, there were also the cartels and paramilitaries, fighting for control of the streets. People displaced by the violence moved to the city's outlying neighborhoods, seeking stability but only finding more hostility. It was the Medellin of bullets, murders, bombs, abductions, drugs, joblessness — and Pablo Escobar.

But it was also the scene of a small, home-grown punk scene. Because while many young people saw no other option but to join the frenzy of crime and violence, others — influenced by musical sounds from Britain and the United States — sought refuge from the social desolation around them in the vibrant, angry sounds of punk rock.

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Geopolitics

Is Soft Power Dead?

With an activist Supreme Court creating a gap between democratic rhetoric and reality in the U.S., and Russia and China eager to flex military muscle, the full-force return to hard power looks bound for dominance.

U.S. flag and Chinese flag

Dominique Moïsi

-Analysis-

PARIS — Russia's war in Ukraine rages on, tensions are erupting in the South China Sea and now abortion rights are being stripped away in the U.S.: Looking around the world, we have to ask: what is left of the notion of soft power?

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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How can we talk about the power to convince when the power to coerce is increasingly the norm? And when there is such a gap between rhetoric and reality in the U.S. and in Russia and China, hard power almost seems to have become part of soft power?

“We will lead the world not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example,” Joe Biden said the day after his election. But what kind of example was he talking about? That of the Supreme Court’s judges, whose decision promises a terrible future to women and to all those who still wanted to believe in an enlightened and liberal America?

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