Monday, August 3, 2009

Protesting the Displacement Crisis

By: Deivid Rojas

On Saturday July 18, 2009 the Taller de Paz team (from Swat and La Javeriana) attended a protest/rally on the displacement crisis in Colombia. The protest was successful on many levels.

1. Though millions of people did not show up to the protest (more like a thousand), for the people that did go it was a great sacrifice, a sacrifice they were willing to make in order to expose the injustice. Some had to skip a day of work, pay transportation costs (from money they don’t have), but more admiringly, most had to sacrifice their safety. For many displaced individuals, identifying as “displaced” can be extremely dangerous because even in Bogota—displaced people still run the risk of the military, drug lords, the guerrilla, the para-militaries, or even the government wanting to cause them harm. Thus, this rally was not only a sign of protest, but also a significant symbol of courage.

2. 2. The day picked to hold the march was very strategic. Two days later, July 20, is Colombia’s Independence Day. By having the protest just two days before, the displacement community challenged the notion of Colombia’s Independence. They showed Colombians and the world that in fact independence in Colombia is not for all. Not for the displaced community.

3. One of the biggest issues in the displacement crisis is the common apathy of many Colombians (especially those living in the urban areas). Since most of the displaced community come from rural areas many Colombians living in the cities seem unaffected by it. Though, for example, the displaced community has significantly grown in Bogota over the years (affecting schools, public spaces, population, etc), the attitude of the rolo has not changed. Most think that the situation is all under in control. Therefore, this rally was a (forced ) attempt for the displaced community to be seen and heard by the rolos. To become visible in the eyes of the unaffected. To become Colombians.

Throughout the march there were many chants and songs, here were my favorite ones:

-Abajo el Govierno de Uribe! Abajo! Abajo! Abajo!

(Down with Uribe’s Government)

- Quienes Somos? Desplazados. De donde vivimos? Colombia, Colombia, Colombia

(Who are we? Displaced people. Where do we live? Colombia, Colombia, Colombia)

- Hay estan, hay estan, los que roban la nacion

(There they are, there they are, those that rob the nation)—This was said every time we passed a government office, a food/clothes chain, a person in suit.

- Abajo Accion Social! Abajo, Abajo, Abajo

(Down with Accion Social! Down, Down, Down)—Accion Social is the president’s agency that deals with many social issues, and is the one that is mainly dealing with the displacement issue. After talking to many of the families that participated in Taller de Paz, talking to la Defensorial del Pueblo in Colombia, and by witnessing this protest, the conclusion is that Accion Social is a complete failure, lyers, and frauds.

- Que se cumpla la ley 387! Que se cumpla, que se cumpla, que se cumpla!

(Fulfill Law 387!, Fulfill, fulfill, fulfill)—Law 387 is law that was passed in 1997 especially to address the displacement crisis. Obviously, this law was just constructed with false promises. You can read more about it here.

In Spanish:

In English:

- Somos desplazados, no somos delinquentes!

(We are displaced, not delinquents)

- El pueblo, sin techo, exige sus derechos!

(The community, without a roof, demands their rights)

I leave with some footage from the protest.

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