Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Short March to the Left

Marchers demand a Constituent Assembly to rewrite Colombia's Constitution. The FARC guerrillas had briefly made such a demand, but seem to have dropped it. 
Today's supposedly huge marche by students, unions, leftist political parties and others underwhelmed with its numbers. Other marches by the usual spectrum of leftist organizations, such as the Marcha Patriotica, have filled Ave. Septima for hours and paralyzed half of Bogotá. This one barely streched over several blocks. Are leftists losing their fire just when peace negotiations might bring the FARC guerrillas into the democratic structure?

Riot police's top priority: Protect the long-suffering McDonald's restaurant.

'Los Emputados.' Apparently, these folks consider themselves Colombia's 'Indignados.'

The M-19 Guerrillas - or their stand-ins - made a brief appearance. 

The Personeria, a local government office supposed to defend individual rights, has suffered colorful indignities from many previous protests. I didn't see any paint flying today. 

Police line near the Palacio de Justicia waiting for protest marchers. 
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Vocabat said...

Hi, I was wondering what your opinion is on the newspaper reports last week on the price of gas. As you know, it's apparently much higher in Colombia than in countries that import oil from Colombia such as the U.S., South Korea, and Bolivia, even when the median salaries of those countries are much higher than or equivalent to Colombian salaries. I know that you are very pro-environment and I think I've read commentary of yours that called for higher gas prices to disincentivize driving, so are you happy deep down that Colombian gas prices are so high? It doesn't look like that's discouraging driving, or is it? If gas were cheaper or even 4 cents a gallon like in Venezuela, do you think the traffic would be even worse? And if gas is kept high, should the govt. take more of the money from corrupt/greedy companies like Ecopetrol? Just curious on your take. Thanks.

Miguel said...

Hi Vocabat,

Thanks for your comment/question. Yes, I've seen the news coverage about Colombia's gasoline prices, and it hasn't changed my opinion that gas should be even more expensive. Traffic here is bad, and even Pres. Santos complained about it last week. If driving were more expensive, people would drive less.

I'm not sure what the relevance is of comparing prices with Korea and the U.S. In the U.S. driving is heavily subsidized in many ways.

What's more, gasoline prices don't come close to paying driving's social costs - in pollution, stress, congestion, etc.

And, yes, in Venezuela's traffic jams are much worse, as a Venezuelan couple who visited Bogotá the other day observed.

The fact that some wealthier nations pay less for gasoline (in Europe gasoline is more expensive and quality life is generally higher than the U.S.) is an argument for higher gasoline prices here, since in Colombia cheap gas becomes more of a subsidy for the smaller, car-owning upper class.

I could go on and on, about health, air quality, stress, sedentarianism...