Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Telling Part of the Tale: Gabriel García Márquez in La Candelaria

Avenida Jimenez in La Candelaria and the El Espectador building, where Gabriel Garcí Márquez once worked. The building, which now contains offices and a Crepes & Waffles restaurant, is curved one on the far right. 
I just read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's autobiography 'Vivir Para Contarla' ('Living to Tell the Tale'), only nine years after it was published. It's not exactly hot off of the presses...(but then I also recently reread Frank Norris's 'The Octopus,' only a century after it was published.)

Café Pasaje on Plaza El Rosario. Popular tradition holds that
Gabo used to frequent this historic cafe, altho he doesn't
mention it in his autobiography.
Living to Tell the Tale tells a lot about Márquez's formative years and Colombian history. And it also fills in a chapter of Márquez's life which has received little attention but undoubtedly influence him: his life and work in Bogotá's La Candelaria neighborhood.

I have to admit that I'm no great fan of Márquez's fiction, probably due to my own obtuseness. I rarely grasp the point of his inventions - or, maybe, insomnia epidemics, visiting gypsies and other fantasies are simply supposed to be entertaining in themselves. On the other hand, I have enjoyed Márquez's journalism and other non-fiction, which is informative and entertaining.

Márquez is of course a lively storyteller and seems to have a great memory - almost incredibly so - which, combined with his knack for witnessing some of the landmark events in Colombian history, makes this book a great education. And many of those events took place in La Candelaria.

The spot where Gaitan was assassinated in 1948 on Seventh Ave. just south of Jimenez.  Márquez recounts that he arrived on the spot just minutes after the assassination and saw a mysterious man apparently directing events.
A plaque commemorating
students massacred by
Rojas Pinilla's forces.
Márquez writes, for example, that he arrived on the scene just minutes after Jorge Eliecer Gaitan's 1948 assassination in downtown Bogotá, which triggered the bogotazo riots and deepened the political fratricide known as La Violencia. Márquez describes a man on the assassination scene apparently directing events, as tho the whole thing had been planned and choreographed. Márquez writes that six years later, in 1954, he happened upon the scene as dictator Gustavo Rojas Pinilla's forces massacred protesting students just a few blocks north along Seventh Ave. The following year, the dictatorship would briefly shut down both  El Espectador, Marquez's employer, and its competitor El Tiempo.

A streetcar burns on Plaza Bolívar during the bogotazo riots.
Márquez grippingly describes the murderous riots which followed Gaitan's assassination, as well as the killings of La Violencia. The violence forced Márquez to take temporary refuge on Colombia's more peaceful Carribean coast, where he eventually set most of his novels. It's interesting to speculate about what Márquez's fiction might have been like if he'd stayed in Bogotá - or whether he would have become a great writer at all without experiencing the history and magical atmosphere of Cartagena.

Plaza del Periodista (Journalists' Plaza) beside the old El Espectador building. Márquez  likely hung out here. 
As a reporter writing for various newspapers, including Bogotá's El Espectador, Márquez had a privileged viewpoint on the nation's politics and its authoritarian government. I enjoyed reading, for example, about the reporters' efforts to report events despite official censorship.

The view today from the window of the office of Guillermo Cano, El Espectador's director when Marquez worked for the paper.  Cano was assassinated in 1986 by cocaine king Pablo Escobar. 
All the while, Márquez was working on his fiction. From the start, he had a special talent, and editors recognized this. But getting published was still a challenge - encouraging for all of us with ambitions of inventing tales.

I found this old photo of an El Molino candy shop
on Jimenez and Carrera 8.
Might this have also been the location of the
El Molino cafe which Márquez frequented?
And it was heartening to read about a time when writing really mattered; when young intellectuals met in La Candelaria's cafes, got drunk and debated all night about novels and poetry.

Almost all of Márquez's debating companions, however, were also men, as were most of his co-workers and friends. In 'Living to Tell...,' we learn about Marquez's mother and sisters' struggles to keep the family afloat despite his father's philandering and business failings. But almost all of the many other girls and women in Márquez's life were sexual partners, many of them prostitutes. Nothing wrong with a healthy young man's lively interest in sex, but did Marquez really meet women only in bed? For that matter, were all of his lovers, particularly the prostitutes, really the happy, carefree, warm-hearted women he portrays? Or have six intervening decades and a little magical realism in memory erased their troubles?

Fidel Castro and Marquez chumming it up. 
The autobiography also left me more perplexed than ever about the origins of Márquez's political thinking. He's well known to be a socialist, which is one reason why he had to leave Colombia (he's lived for decades in Mexico City) and is close friends with Cuba's long-time dictator Fidel Castro. It's never made sense to me that a novelist and journalist, who even established his own political newsmagazine, Cambio, would support a dictator whose regime permits no free press. Márquez's own accounts of his struggles against government censorship just deepened that contradiction for me.

Of course, Living to Tell the Tale ends with Márquez at 29 and moving to Paris, his politics still nebulous. Most likely the City of Light's leftist intellectuals influenced the young Márquez...but how could the Soviet Bloc's repression of freedoms not have disillusioned him on the false promises of communism?

Maybe he'll give us the the answer in the next installment. Let's hope that he lives to tell more tales.

Related Blog Entry: Searching for Gabo

By Mike Ceaser of Bogotá Bike Tours

Riding for the Right to Pollute

Two-stoke moto protesters (Photo from El Tiempo). The man's t-shirt says 'My whole family rides a motorcycle.'
Today, some one hundred two-stroke motorcycle riders rode from Simon Bolívar Park to Plaza Bolívar in protest against laws which restrict and will eventually ban their machines.

Bogotá environmental officials aim to prohibit the two-strokes because they're much more polluting than four-stroke engines. Two-strokes burn lubricating oil along with gasoline, and so often leave a trail of white smoke. They can also be loud.

Motorcyclists are complaining about the prohibition, but the writing's been on the wall for years. In 2009, Bogotá prohibited the registration of additional two-stroke motorcycles in the city. And Bogotá is way behind developed nations, which mostly banned two-stroke motorcycles decades ago. Lots of people use two-stroke motorcycles for their work. They won't suffer a total loss, however, since they can sell their motos to people living in other parts of Colombia where the machines are still allowed.

Unfortunately, the new law specifically excludes the bici-motos, because their engines are tiny. The bic-motos may not pollute much, but they often use bike lanes, subjecting the bicyclist behind them to fumes. A bicycle with a motor is a motorbike and should be on the street, not in a bike lane or on La Ciclovia. 

It's a good thing to clear out the two-strokes. But the city could reduce pollution lots more by junking those clunking, decades-old buses. However, the bus companies wield lots of political and economic power and want to keep those ancient, groaning fare collecting machines on the road, no matter what they're doing to our health.

Today also had more potentially positive news for Bogotá's air. To commemorate World No Tobacco Day, the minister of health announced that as of July 22 tobacco advertising and the sale of loose smokes will be prohibited. We'll have to wait and see whether the anti-loosies law actually gets enforced, as loose cigarrete sales are ubiquitous and very culturally accepted. However, buying single cigarrettes lets young people first experiment with tobacco and gets them hooked before they realize it.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

End of the Road for Bogotá's Horsecarts?

Leonardo and Nana head toward Seventh Ave. 
For the last eight years, Leonardo has worked with his horsecart, or zorra, scavenging things from the trash and wood and metal from construction sites to sell for reuse.

But now his lifestyle is in danger: By January, 2013, Bogotá intends to outlaw the thousands of horsecarts which now rumble thru the city's streets.

When I asked Leonardo, who is 17, about what his family would do instead, he first smiled brightly.

"They're going to give us a motorized tricycle," he said.

I asked him whether they wouldn't have to pay for the new vehicle.

Yes they would, he acknowledged, suddenly glum. And most of the city's zorreros, who are poor people, likely won't be able to afford the machines.

Leonardo climbed into his cart, pulled by his horse Nana, and plunged into Bogotá's traffic.

A horse and cart wait outside the city's Central Cemetery.
For visitors, horsecarts are a surprising sight clopping down Bogotá's congested avenues among the city's skyscrapers and SUVs. But they also serve a purpose, recycling lots of materials which would otherwise end up in the dump and providing employment for thousands of poor families. A recent survey counted some 2,500 people working in Bogotá with horsecarts - and undoubtedly there are more that they missed.

Traffic jams: horse carts' fault?
Those who want them gone argue that the horsecarts worsen traffic congestion and are cruel to the animals. The first argument strikes me as absurd. Look at any traffic jam in this traffic-clogged city and the cause is obvious: too many cars, trucks and buses. Sure, horsecarts don't move fast - but what traffic does on Bogotá's streets? On the other hand, horsecarts don't pollute - the air, at least - and a horsecart doesn't cause drunk driving accidents - horses are too smart and sober for that. Anyway, are even more polluting vehicles the answer to Bogotá's traffic and pollution problems?

Bogotá could do much more to reduce traffic congestion by restricting private vehicle use and junking some of those old, polluting buses. 

A zorra rolls home thru the Los Martires neighborhood. 
The problem of animal suffering is much more real. Often, I've heard, zorreros buy aged horses and put them to work. Imagine the stress on an animal used to the peace of the countryside suddenly subjected to the city's noise, rush and pollution. And many zorreros, poor and uneducated, overwork and underfeed their animals and don't provide them veterinary care. On the other hand, I have met several zorreros who really loved and cared for their horses. 

I do also wonder about city officials' sincerity, because they've shown little concern about the suffering of other animals, such as bulls and roosters killed in public spectacles and the thousands of animals raised and slaughtered every day to feed bogotanos' stomachs.

It seems clear to me that officials' strongest motive for wanting to ban the zorras is cosmetic. For a city which wants to create an image of modernity and progress, horse carts on the street just do not fit in the picture.

Nana enjoys a bite while ignoring the 19th Ave. traffic.
Bogotá has tried several times before to eliminate the horsecarts. But the zorreros organized, hired lawyers and sued for their right to work. This time, officials plan to offer zorreros work in recycling plants. But that recycling program doesn't even exist yet, and zorreros used to freedom and independence aren't likely to take to working in a plant.

Police also find themselves at a loss when dealing with zorras in violation of laws. After all, you can't tow a horse and cart, and the city has no place to care for hundreds of work animals.

Most likely, horsecarts won't disappear from Bogotá for a while yet.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bogotá's Plastic Bag Problem

Bogotá baggy trash
A turtle eating a plastic bag. 

As in most big cities, in Bogotá plastic bags have evolved from a convenience to a curse. They fill the trash and overflow the city dump. They drift into the street, where they look ugly and plug up storm grates, causing flooding. And they can float into rivers and down to the sea, where sea turtles and other animals swallow them and choke to death.

All of that in addition to the fact that lots of energy and natural resources are used to make plastic bags, which are usually used only once and then thrown away.

Bags fill a gutter in
San Victorino. 
To try to change this situation, Bogotá's environmental authority recently issued a decree under which bag manufacturers, stores and supermarkets are supposed to reduce their production and use of plastic bags over the next several years.

Oh, how I wish it would work - but it isn't likely to.

Like all other businesses, selling more bags earns bagmakers more money - so they aren't going to voluntarily cut back. Bags do cost stores money, but putting every little item into one bag, if not two, has become such an expected social courtesy for retailers, like saying 'hi', that, instead of resisting the practice, they embrace it.

For a customer, refusing a bag is often a battle, even when whatever one is buying, like a sack of granola, comes in its own perfectly good bag. Or, when something, like a mango, has absolutely no need to be bagged at all. Salespeople often seem deeply, personally offended when one rejects their offering of a bag, as tho giving away that bag justified their lives. I haven't forgotten the near panic on the face of one man who'd just sold me a bag of granola, for which I'd rejected his bag at least twice.

"But the bag!" he insisted, almost pursuing me into the street. "Don't you want a bag?" I suppose that letting me leave without a bag violated some sort of moral order of decency.

Someday, perhaps someone will calculate the amount of person hours lost to store attendants looking for, fumbling and fitting those totally unnecessary bags. 

Can you see what's in this bag? 
Other motives for bagging are even more bizzare. The other day in the fruit market, a customer beside me had his small fruit purchase safely in a plastic bag, and then asked the seller for another bag.

"Don't worry, that bag won't break," she assured him.

"But I don't want people to see what I've bought," he complained, and got a second bag.

Are fruits so shameful that he needs to hide them from strangers? Or so valuable that they might get him mugged?

They should ban plastic bags, the fruit seller told me - but continues handing them out.

Anti-bag signs in Las Nieves market. 
Incredibly, I've heard the same justification at a neighborhood bread store, where the employees routinely double- and triple-bag bread loaves "because people don't want others to see what they've bought."

At the same fruit market a cheese seller has posted one sign about the environmental impacts of plastic bags and another advising 'I charge for the second bag.' But she continues giving out bags.

"I tell people to reuse them," she explained.

In another neighborhood store the other night a man was buying two small items.

"Do you really need a bag for those?" the employee asked.

"Oh," the man responded, surprised, "are you recycling.?"

"Yes," the employee replied, even tho not using the bags at all is a much better option than recycling.

The man walked out with his purchases gripped in his hands. A tiny victory. He'll have the corner store to thank when he has less trash to put out.

I still see abuelitos and abuelitas carrying canvas bags to the market. But, sadly, that custom is dying out with them.

Several years ago, after discussions with environmental authorities, big supermarkets started using bags which are supposed to biodegrade when exposed to sunlight. That's a good way to keep them from floating forever in streams and oceans. But most bags fill up space in landfills, where they remain for centuries, without ever again seeing sunlight. According to environmentla authorities, Bogotá dumps 840 tons of plastic into the city's Doña Juana dump every day, and most of that consists of bags.

Unfortunately, social pressures and gentlemen's agreements will do little to reduce bag use. And the environmental authorities' voluntary agreements with bag makers and stores will only end up producing a black market for bags, so that they can show a false reduction while buying bags under the table. Bogotá and other cities need to address this problem by taxing bags. Once stores discover that using bags really costs them, they'll cut back.

A Frenchman, in Paloquemao market, shows off an 'ecological shopping bag.'
The man had filled it with plastic bags of fruit, but removed them when someone pointed out the contradiction. 
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Lance Armstrong Scandal and Drug Prohibition

Champ Lance: Did he beat the system
as well as the competition?
The mounting evidence that cycling superstar Lance Armstrong doped his way to his Tour de France victories certainly says a lot about Armstrong's character.

But it also contains a message about drug prohibition. After all, Armstrong likes to boast that he's the most drug tested athlete in history and that he's never failed a test. And he's certainly lived under lots of scrutiny from the media, competitors and cycling authorities.

Yet, if we believe the testimonies of Armstrong's ex-teammates Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, as well as lots of other evidence, Armstrong doped routinely throughout his racing career, and so did many other top bike racers.

If authorities could not stop a man who lived in the spotlight from using prohibited substances, what's the chance that they can stop the whole population? Especially when performance-enhancing substances like EPO and steroids are much harder to find than heroin, cocaine and marijuana. 

U.S. Postal Service racing team,
featuring Lance Armstrong. A
laboratory creation?
Of course, the factors in favor and against prohibition in sports and the general population are very different. Drugs like cocaine and heroin are banned primarily because of their dangers to users' health and the way they affect people's behavior. But if performance-enhancing drugs dramatically affected health or behavior, they wouldn't work for athletes in the first place.

If police and judges simply decriminalize drugs, use will likely increase, and some users will enjoy themselves and others will wreck their health. But law enforcement costs and lots of other damaging impacts, such as the funding of criminal organizations, will decrease.

Will the best doper win?
On the other hand, if sports authorities just give up and allow unrestricted use of performance boosters, it could undermine the very nature of sports. Instead of competing by training and strategy, athletes will outdo each other by using more expensive and sophisticated laboratory techniques.

Of course, it's always possible that, against all evidence, Armstrong is clean, as he has always insisted, and that there's a huge conspiracy against him. But that wouldn't change much, since it's clear that the sport is packed full of cheaters.

Just imagine Real Madrid defeating Barcelona in a dramatic match, and the reporters rushing to interview, instead of the coaches and players, laboratory technicians, who analyze the substances each teams' players used.

'Well, Barcelona injected themselves with Substance A, which made them run faster. But Real Madrid popped B pills, which made them stronger. Next time, Barcelona had better take the pills - or both drugs."

Prohibitionism doesn't seem to work wherever it's tried. Do the arguments in its favor outweigh those against it?

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fighting for the Right to Sell Cellphones

No to monopoly!
Cell phone merchants marched thru downtown Bogotá today protesting a new decree tightening controls on celular telephone sales.

Stolen or just pre-owned? Phones and parts for sale on a
Bogotá sidewalk. One of these guys ran after me, angry
about the photo. I guess he had something to be worried about. 
According to the government, the decree will make stolen cellular phones useless and thus less appealing to thieves. Cell phone theft is a big problem - reportedly, 1.5 million cellphones are stolen every year in Colombia. And the thefts sometimes even turn deadly - recently the chaplain of a Catholic university was murdered by thieves who stole his phone. That crime probably provided the impulse for this decree's issuance.

An acquaintance who sells new and used cellphones guesstimates that half the used phones he buys are stolen. But it sure would be a pity if used cellphones could not be resold and had to be trashed, with all of the environmental and economic impacts of that. Under the new decree, cellphones reported stolen must be turned off permanently, making them useless.

A Blackberry for 230,000 pesos - negotiable! And it appeared to work. 
However, owners of small cell phone stores suspect that the law's goal is to give the cell phone operators - Comcel, Movistar and Tigo - a monopoly on phone sales.

I've heard a saying in Latin America: 'Hecha la ley, hecha la trampa' - 'For every lie, there's a trick.' It's hard to imagine that someone won't find a way to rejig stolen cell phones for reuse, if only in a different country.

Is this another example of legal magical realism? A bill now in Congress would create a punishment of 6 to 8 year in prison for reprogramming stolen cellphones. One has to ask whether such a draconian punishment will be enforced at all. That's a much harsher punishment than that for drunken driving! (Here's a news piece about a drunk driver who killed someone and got sentenced to only a little more than four years in prison.)

Window shopping for phones in a San Andresito. 
Call for 200 pesos per minute. Seems as tho almost everybody has a cellphone - but many people  use them only to receive calls, and save money by calling from rented public phones, which are much cheaper.  
Police following the march. 

In the afternoon, these women police were still lined up near the closed San Andresitos, as tho violence might break out at any minute. 
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Peru's Election: AIDS or Cancer for Colombia?

Ollanta Humala
A choice between AIDS and cancer is how Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa described the choice Peruvian voters face in the run-off presidential election June 5.

In the first round of voting in April, several centrist candidates divided their support, leaving two extremists carrying worrisome relationships: Ollanta Humala, a populist, nationalist who sometimes sounds like a more extreme version of Venezuela's Hugo Chavéz, and Keiko Fujimori, daughter of Peruvian ex-President Alberto Fujimori, who turned himself into a dictator and made corruption and human rights violations state policy and is now in a Peruvian prison.

Keiko Fujimori
Neither bodes well for Colombia: Humala is a leftist with a discourse resembling that of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who has apparently financed both Humala and Colombia's FARC guerrillas. With leftist governments on two of its borders, Colombia doesn't need a third such neighbor to sympathize and support Colombia's insurgents. On the other hand, Alberto Fujimori's right-hand man Vladimiro Montesinos, who headed Peru's intelligence service, received protection money from cocaine cartels and trafficked assault rifles to the FARC guerrillas. Some Peruvians suspect that if Keiko wins her father will be the real ruler.

This is a surprising situation for Peru. The country's economy has grown at 9 percent annualy - the fastest rate in South America - so you'd expect voters to choose another centrist who'll continue the existing economic and political policies. But too many centrist candidates divided that vote between them. The situation is also a testament to the fact that despite Peru's economic boom, many Peruvians live in poverty.

Perhaps the election winner will learn from others' mistakes. Recently, Humala has tried to distance himself from Hugo Chavez and Keiko Fujimori, who is leading in the polls, has tried to the same from her father's administration.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Monday, May 23, 2011

Andrés, the Mushroom Man

If you've eaten mushrooms in central Bogotá, there's a good chance that you can thank Andrés.

Daily defiance of death.
You've probably seen him, but didn't pay attention. After all, he's not very glamorous, pedaling his beat-up bike in the sun and rain. But he's a fundamental force for all those who like their mushrooms fresh.

For the past 15 years, Andrés has delivered the mushrooms his brother grows on his farm in Chia, north of Bogotá. Andrés picks the mushrooms up in the Paloquemao market and guesstimates that he rides some 50 kilometers per day, carrying loads of as much as 50 kilograms, fighting his way thru the city's horrendous trancones. I've spotted him in La Candelaria and by the National University - and I'm sure he goes much further. Whether it's sunny or rainy, and even when he's sick, he sticks to it. After all, he's got a wife and three kids to support.

And Andrés has competition: Zeta mushroom company, which delivers by truck.

But Andrés prefers the freedom of his bike. "I can stop wherever I want, I can go thru traffic, I don't get stuck in traffic jams."

Andrés also charges less and gives more personalized service. When a restaurant calls him at 7 or 8 p.m., desperate for 'shrooms, Andrés does his best to deliver.

He hasn't switched to a motorcycle, in part because he doesn't want to pollute. And pedaling keeps him trim. Andrés, who earned a college degree in business management, used to manage a relatives typography business.

"I was always thin," he observes, "but now I'm thinner."

He's also happier now, because "I like the freedom."

However, bicycle delivery in Bogotá does have its hazards. Andrés has suffered falls, tho never a serious accident. And he's had two bicycles stolen.

 "I came back and they weren't there," he recalls.

 Still, he doesn't use a lock, altho he is thinking about buying one.

 Call Andres at 320-846-8359 .

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Afrocolombians' Day

A celebration in Bogotá's La Candelaria neighborhood. 
Today AfroColombians celebrated the 160th anniversary of the pohibition of slavery in Colombia, in 1851.

Women gold miners in El Chocó
People of African descent make up about ten percent of Colombia's population, most of them concentrated along the Pacific and Carribean coasts. Many highly Afro regions are very poor, particularly El Chocó, which has become allegorical for poverty. 

The fact that Colombia waited decades after independence to abolish slavery suggests that Colombia's revolutionaries were not all that revolutionary in eliminating forms of colonial exploitation when they benefited themselves. (And, slavery persisted for years more, in at least some forms, long after legal emancipation. In his autobiography, Gabriel Garcia Marquez writes that around 1900 his family 'purchased' a Wayuu Indian woman to work in their home.)

Benkos Biohó, with chains still on.
Colombia never imposed racial segregation. However, prejudice does exist, and I've heard reports of black people being barred from elite dancing clubs in Bogotá and other cities. I've also heard 'culturalism,' which can be difficult to distinguish from racism. For example, people make comments like 'Those guys on the coast don't like to work and have lots of women.' (Of course, the heat and humidity on the coast could drain the energy from anybody.)

Raúl Cuero at work.
Probably Colombia's most famous AfroColombian community are the Palenqueros, who have preserved some African words, music and other cultural traits. Today, the Palenque community ceremoniously cut the chains off of a statue of Benkos Biohó, an African who rebelled against slavery four centuries ago and founded the Palenque community.

Despite poverty and discrimination, AfroColombians have contributed greatly to Colombian culture both as a people and thru extraordinary individuals. One of the best-known living AfroColombians is Raúl Cuero, a microbiology researcher with NASA.

Another is Delia Zapata, who worked to find the African roots of AfroColombian dances. She lived in the Bogotá's La Candelaria neighborhood, where her old home is still a dance studio/school.

On Sunday the 22nd AfroColombian and indigenous groups marched down Bogotá's Seventh Ave.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Bogotá Scenes, Young and Old

These kids were scavenging metal from a bombed building in the Santa Fe neighborhood, now being demolished. 
Over the last few days I've come upon these scenes in central Bogotá, mostly involving young people, but a few old as well.

The kids had a fire going, probably to burn the plastic off of wiring, to sell the metal. 
The neighborhood contains the city's main red light district, and lots of delinquency. What  might these kids' families be like?
In La Candelaria, the police had patted down a bunch of youths and arrested two of them. This kid pleaded not to be arrested, but the cop insisted: 'I'll bring more police' he insisted. 'And more police. And even my mother!' 
The youth's friends pleaded he be let go. 

I couldn't find out what he was arrested for. Most likely, drug possession. 
These kids turned a street in La Candelaria that's being repaved. 

The neighbors never thot this street was particularly bad.  But, of course, there's money in street work.
This older man participated in a senior citizens' demonstration (here called members of the 'Third Age', demanding more government support. 
Looks like a guy with lots of determination!
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours