|Just like the very, very old times: Tents and a campfire on Plaza Bolivar.|
Yet, strangely, during an hour's visit the other night, participants told me little about Petro, and much of that ambiguous.
|Tents labeled with M-19, Petro's old guerrilla group.|
|'Petro stays,' says the sign.|
How did he know this? He claimed to have lived in the world's most isolated state for three years. Foreign visitors to the North are shown only what the government wants them to see, and evidently the People's Democratic Republic of Korea's propaganda was very effective on this true believer.
But if I doubted him, the man offered me yet more proof: It was impossible that the North Korean's lived badly, because they would have overthrown their dictators long ago. Sure. With empty stomachs and guns pointed at them.
|Camp Petro: Sponsored by the Discovery Channel?|
So, what did she think about Petro?
|Free soup for the hungry.|
She didn't think much of him either way, she said. In fact, as an anarchist, she didn't approve of anybody holding power.
"I'm really here for the encampment," she said. It was like a Bogotá version of Occupy, but with a more specific goal.
|A Petro flower garden.|
"I came here to do something creative," he explained.
I also met a white-haired Jewish man, who is a notable sight in La Candelaria as the only yamulka-wearing resident. Neither did this man seem convinced of Petro's cause. Instead, he asked me for my opinion about the mayor's predicament. I told him that the ouster seemed somewhat anti-democractic, as well as very severe compared to the mayor's offense. After all, Samuel Moreno, Petro's predecessor in City Hall, who is awaiting trial on multiple corruption charges, was banned from politics for fewer years. (Still, by running for office, Petro did implicitly accept the ground rules.)
|This encampment includes free wi-fi, on the city's tab.|
Lastly, I talked to an old man, evidently homeless, who was enjoying a bowl of the Petrista's free soup. The man told me that he survived by "buying and selling things," probably scavenged from the city's sidwalks. He expressed a firm work-ethic: "He who doesn't work, doesn't eat," he said, spooning in more bean soup.
Did this man support the mayor? He appeared not to have thot deeply about the city's political drama, but he finally allowed that he he wanted the mayor to stay in office. And why was that?
What makes a guerrilla-turned-politician qualify as a man-of-the-people isn't clear to me. Nor is it clear to me what this random mix of people could possibly do to stop Petro's ouster.
For a clearer, more ideological response, perhaps I should have walked over to the plaza's western side, to the other tents labeled M-19, Petro's one-time guerrilla group.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours