Mixtape #6: Fearless Colombian Change Makers & Their Music
Produced by Camille Duran / Published by Eleen Murphy / Senior Editors Eleen Murphy & Camille Duran / Music Credits: License by Ins. Green White Space. Photo by Marcelo Salinas.
Transcript from the Episode
Liz Arnedo (LA):Hello
LA: Let’s not talk about the karaoke!
CD: This mixtape is primarily designed for 3 specific situations:
- Situation 1: You are thinking of taking latin dance classes but you never really tried that kind of music and you want to get this extra boost of motivation that will make you finally subscribe to the course? Well, there you go.
By the way, you can also use this mixtape to practice in front of the mirror. Remember to ignore how clumsy you may look at first. Do not care about what people think, just enjoy yourself.
- Situation 2: You are thinking of going to Columbia for a vacation to discover the coffee region, the historic heritage and the beautiful landscapes. Of course you need some context about what’s going on over there! Hopefully this mixtape will make you want to get out of the hotel and get a real taste for the culture
- Situation 3: You invited your neighbours for a thematic dinner, you cooked Bandeja Paisa? You’re going to need appropriate background music to go with the food, with the frijoles rojos, con la carne molida chicharrón el huevo frito con el plátano maduro chorizo los arepas la salsa hogao la morcilla, el avocado y el limon… you like my gringo accent?
LA: Very much.
CD: Years of practice.
LA: No, I agree with you. It is true. It’s something that is very disconnected from where the reality is. I think it’s always talking about love and life but in a cheerful way, or as you say, in a melancholic way, right? And it’s something that is changing in some countries. Like in Venezuela right now, they are talking more about the reality that societies live in.
LA: Yes, of course.
CD: Yeah, there is this history of just removing leaders who work for the people and are fighting for change. Send them to jail, or…
LA: Or maybe be killed.
CD: The FARCs are this leftist guerrilla group we talk about on TV all the time, right?
LA: Yes, exactly. Antanas Mockus decided to wear a bulletproof vest. And he cut the shape of a heart.
CD: In the vest?
LA: In the vest, yes.
CD: A hole cut in a heart shape in his life vest over the chest…
LA: Exactly, yes. That was a symbol of confidence and defiance to the FARC, and to the situation in general that they were living in in that moment.
CD: How was this received, or?
LA: Well it was received with a lot of humour, which is something that is a characteristic in people in Latin America, but it was also a very strong way of arriving to people and making them conscious of what’s going on.
CD: This is so interesting. From a change making perspective, people respond to humour and playfulness from politicians. That’s the way to get into their –
LA: I think so yeah, it’s the best way.
Now the point is that we just learnt in April that the project will not carry on, it seems. And that’s an important victory for the community: The Canadian company is suing the Colombian government for 700 million dollars, because they are breaching the free trade agreement by not taking care of displacing the community. Land rights were recognised as well as small scale mining activities run by the locals. So, good stuff. The question is…who were the change agents in the story? And how did they do?
Well, many were involved and it’s hard to summariser in a few sentences. One of the most outspoken leaders against the company was Father José Reinel Restrepo, a Catholic priest. And one week after speaking up in Bogota, he was found dead. So that’s one name that stood out.
Also, it seems the armed group ELN (National Liberation Army) played a role in putting pressure against the company. That’s a terrorist organisation, according to the US terms – because they attack infrastructure projects, a little bit like the FARCs, but with a slightly different ideology. Yeah…we will not get into discussing who is a terrorist and who is not. But the fact is, ELN was a force of change to take into account in that story. So all in all, a rather positive development, we’ll be following and maybe cook something a bit more detailed in the future.
Unfortunately, you know it, it’s not that often that things turn in favour of the community, so we need to keep talking about this. We need to keep learning from these stories, and do what we can to not forget.
LA: Well honestly, it’s been long since I have been in Colombia.
CD: Yeah, when were you there?
LA: I was there until 1994.
CD: Oh, so you were there during the tough times, right?
CD: So basically you left when Pablo Escobar got killed, right?
LA: Yes, yes. It’s a tough life. It’s very expensive. For all the citizens of Latin America, their salaries are very low and you have to work very hard to have a good standard of living. It’s not easy. You can be very well educated, have a lot of knowledge, have been to university, but you might end up working as a taxi driver. I think one interesting characteristic of our personality in Latin America is to adapt ourselves in the best way we can to situations.
CD: Thank you for passing by!
LA: Thank you for inviting me, it was my pleasure!
CD: Yes, my friends life is tough around the world and we forget how lucky we are back here in Europe. We are going to do like Colombians now and smile anyway on this last song. It’s my favourite – we are not tired! We crank up the volume, and we’ll see you soon for more green knowledge inspiration and entertainment – keep up the good work in the meantime.