Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Note to the Protesters

Sign-carrying union members march thru downtown today.
Dear May Day protest marchers, 

It's great to see people, especially young people, out demanding changes they believe in, instead of spending their time drinking, watching television or playing video games. 

Anarchist mural in the National University
calls for women to fight.
And many of your demands today are certainly very justified: Decent wages, rights for workers, punishment for violators of human rights and decent prices for agricultural harvests.

But how do you want to accomplish these things? Reading your banners and listening to your chants makes me think that what you want is really a Revolution and to see Colombia's government replaced by a communist or anarchist state.

I could write on and on about the disaster that Communism was and still is for the peoples living under the system: There was the disfunctional economy, shortages of basic goods, the lack of free press, bans on protests and restrictions on art, the gulags, the rigged trials, the prison camps, the mass murders, the dictatorships...But if you still believe in the promise of communism today, it tells me that you're determined to ignore the evidence and that nothing will change your mind. 

As for anarchism, one only has to take a look at the parts of the world lacking a functioning
Communist flags hung on Ave. Septima today.
government to see anarchy's unpleasant and deadly results. But if you haven't looked for yourself already, then, like the communists, you don't want to see.

But, whatever the merits of anarchism and communism, one thing is certain: For better or for worse, COLOMBIA IS NOT GOING TO HAVE ANY KIND OF REVOLUTION ANYTIME SOON.

Give up. Stop dreaming. Take hold of reality.

So, instead of wasting your energies demanding the impossible once a year and throwing rocks at the police every month or two, do something realistic. 

Protesters march down Ave. Septima after dark.
They were chanting 'Multinationals out of Colombia.'
Colombia's got far more than its share of injustices, but most of them are relatively boring, mundane problems not nearly as exciting as revolution. There's pollution, deforestation, urban unsustainability, violence against women, child poverty, child drug addiction, hazardous workplaces, overflowing landfills...and on and on.

Those mostly unsexy problems don't lend themselves to marches and screaming. They require many hours of hard work, much of it unpleasant. But that's the way to make real changes. Calling for revolution may be exciting, but it's not likely to help anyone. 


Mike Ceaser

A sign from today's May Day marches: 'When the countryside goes on strike, the city advances.'

After the march, union members relax with a beer and a tejo game.
This somewhat contradictory mural on Ave. Septima shows a militaristic Pres. Santos firing 'peace bullets.' A strange message, since the left has generally supported peace negotiations with the guerrillas.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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