Saturday, October 1, 2011

24 Hours Without a Homicide?

Shoot 'em dead.
Today, we were watching bicycle polo in the National Park when this oddly-dressed troupe of young people appeared, and, without explanation, carried out a silent theatre.

Only afterwards did they explain: they were part of a campaign called 24-0, which is calling for a day without any murders. That's a tall order, particularly on a Saturday, in a city with a murder rate of almost two people per day. More importantly, the campaign is intended to draw attention to the problem, which overwhelmingly impacts poor people, and ask Bogotanos to think about solutions.

Down he goes. 
It's mind-boggling that Colombia, despite its wonderful people and culture and increasing stability, has a annual murder rate of 38 per 100,000 people more than double that of Mexico, at 18 per 100,000, which is under siege from narco cartels. That's to say nothing of Europe, Asia or even the gun-saturated United States.

It's tempting to blame Colombia's murder rate here on its half-century of armed conflict. But, in fact, that conflict can be blamed for only a few thousand murders per year. That's a lot, but only a fraction of the nation's 18,000 annual killings. However, I suspect that this conflict feeds a general atmosphere of lawlessness and a tendency to resolve conflicts with firearms. The closely linked illegal drug trade, of course, also fuels violence on all levels.

What would you do about this? activists ask passers-by.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Marcela said...

Though provoking post, Mike. I didn't realise the rate was so high compared to Mexico. A problem that's extremely hard to imagine an effective solution to.


Matthew said...

Great blog, very sad but true. They tried to stab me to death in El Centro in Bogota on Thursday night when I was on my way home. I don't know how to explain the high murder rate but the attitude of Colombians towards other people and each other is perplexing and confusing to say the least!


Miguel said...

The really paradoxical thing is that the overwhelming majority of Colombians whom I know and whom I meet in passing are extremely generous, helpful people. On the other hand, I have had a few conflicts with neighbors and others which escalated nearly into violence when they should have been resolvable by talking.

On the other hand, during my last few months living in Caracas, Venezuela, three or four homicides occurred on my street.

I can only speculate that Colombia's violence problem is somehow rooted in the drug trade and its long armed conflict.