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TOPIC: 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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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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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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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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Society
Luis Carvajal Basto

The U.S.-Colombia 'War On Drugs' Has Failed: What Comes Next?

The Biden administration and Colombia's new government seem to agree on the need for a new approach to drugs policy. But will they be able to find support in their countries to forge a new strategy?

BOGOTÁ - Some early directives by Colombia's new president Gustavo Petro suggest he sees the 2016 peace accords with the The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as failed or at best unfinished. Founded in 1964, FARC, the armed wing of the Communist Party, have been fighting the longest-running armed insurgency in the Western hemisphere.

Signed in 2016 under former president Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, the accords were meant to bring peace to the country, yet that peace has been patchy. This is not because another communist guerrilla force in the country, the National Liberation Army (ELN), has refused to join the peace arrangements, nor is it because of the last government's failure to implement the accord.

The problem clearly concerns drug trafficking, which has continued unperturbed since 2016. While drug use remains illegal, drug trafficking, which has long helped FARC fund its insurgency, will always be highly profitable and foment violence. So is it time to decriminalize drug use?

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Green
Tobias Käufer

Germany's Cynical Solution To The Energy Crisis: "Green Colonialism"

Germany has supplies of climate-damaging resources like oil, gas, coal, lithium. But faced with an energy crisis, its government, including the Greens, has opted to outsource extraction to Latin America. The party's betrayal of its core values has not gone unnoticed.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — The experienced environmental activists from Ende Gelände, known for occupying coal mines, already have their sights set on the next target.

Their latest campaign was to defend the village of Lützerath in western Germany, close to the Dutch border, against eviction and demolition. The declared opponent is the energy company RWE. Its plans to promote lignite, the most polluting of coal types, were recently fought with a climate camp lasting several days and a demonstration to preserve the village.

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It is precisely these protests that Germany's so-called traffic light coalition, especially the Green Party's cabinet members Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck, fear. They call into question their party's essence: climate and environmental protection.

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In The News
Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

Train Station Strike Kills 25 In Ukraine, Monsoon Toll, Around The World At 17

👋 Mbote!*

Welcome to Thursday, where the death toll is mounting in Russia’s attack on a train station in eastern Ukraine, Pakistan is asking for international aid amid months of extreme floods, and a British-Belgian pilot becomes the youngest to fly solo around the world. Meanwhile, Colombian daily El Espectador looks at how the city of Medellín has turned into (to quote the locals) "Sodom and Gonorrhea."

[*Lingala - mboh-teh]

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Society
Reinaldo Spitaletta

How Medellín Became Colombia's "Open Air" Brothel

Medellín was once a mix of conservative values and hidden perversions, but socio-economic troubles and the pandemic have coincided to make the city, in the words of locals, "Sodom and Gonorrhea."

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — In the 1940s, Medellín wasn't just Colombia's chief industrial city but also boasted the most brothels, sex workers and "red light" districts.

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food / travel
Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra

Family Sacrifice: How I Found My Colombian Grandmother At Eid In Morocco

The writer, a Bogota native, was in Tangier for the recent celebration of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice. She had been warned about how shocking the ceremony could be, but an impromptu invitation from a local family brought her back to her own.

TANGIER — Four years ago I went to Rabat, Morocco as an exchange student from my native Colombia, arriving in early August just after the Eid al-Adha celebrations, the festival of sacrifice that was so important for the worldwide Muslim community.

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Green
María Mónica Monsalve

Mineral Mining, The Dirty Secret Of The Clean Energy Industry

Green technologies are crucial to reducing carbon emissions, but they require ramping up the need for mining of minerals. And since mineral extraction can cause grave natural destruction, how can we ensure renewables are truly good for the environment?

BOGOTÁ — In the course of international debates on climate change, 2015 was a key year. Representatives of 196 nations signed the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep the average rise in world temperatures to well below 2°C. Signing the pact was challenging enough, but implementing it was and will be even more difficult.

The UN's climate change panel (I.P.C.C.) of scientists in fact noticed an increase in climate-warming emissions between 2010 and 2019. While the sources of this rise are varied, they are largely based on our collective energy consumption, specifically the use of fossil fuels.

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