Sunday, March 11, 2012

Alejandro Llinas's Quixotic Campaign for Peace

Alejandro Llinas beside his tent, underneath Simon Bolivar's statue. 
I visited Plaza Bolivar this afternoon in search of a young Dutch guy who I had read was carrying out a hunger strike there for humane treatment of Bogotá's stray dog population.

Llinas points up at
war hero Simon Bolivar.
But the people on the plaza told me the Dutch guy had left, and instead I met Alejandro Llinas, a not-so-young Colombian who said he's been hunger striking for 12 days demanding peace for Colombia.

That's a measure of the colorful and opinionated place Plaza Bolívar is. The platform on which Llinas set up his tiny tent in front of Simon Bolivar's statue is usually occupied by a colorful man who talks on and on in favor of his own peace plan for Colombia. Roaming around them are llamas, clowns, photographers and grain sellers who providing for the thousands of pigeons.

Llinas, who is 61, says he won't eat (and he also plans to stop drinking water) until he gets some sort of response from Colombia's leaders about resolving the country's long armed conflict.

The plaques on the statue glamorize warmaking. 
While   Llinas's campaign hasn't produced much progress as yet, his effort does come at a moment when peace hopes are glimmering for long-suffering Colombia.

The weakened FARC guerrillas recently promised to stop kidnapping civilians and to free the soldiers and police officers they are holding in the jungle. And Pres. Juan Manuel Santos has instituted policies intended both to heal the conflict's wounds, by for example returning land to displaced peasants, and to try to address some of the country's fundamental social inequities, such as the unequal distribution of land. Most dramatically, there also seem to be the beginnings of an international movement to reconsider the prohibitionist drug policies which have ensured that Colombia's guerrillas, paramilitaries and other violent, outlaw organizations make the profits from this huge business.

Llinas, meanwhile, plans to continue his hunger strike until he feels he's been listened to.

"I'm going to the limit," he said.

Llinas resembles playwright George Bernard Shaw, another iconoclast. 

Bolivar Indignant - Peace Dialogues

Llinas in his tent. 
The clown performing nearby got lots more attention than Llinas did. 
The plaza and cathedral as the sun drops down. 
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

1 comment:

mauricio forero l said...

What a cool guy,I agree with you, he reminds me of George Bernard Shaw, but I wonder how much attention he is getting despite his good intentions. Meanwhile, the real clowns ( FARCS Y PARAS ) may get more respect and attention.

Mauricio Forero.