Showing posts with label television. Show all posts
Showing posts with label television. Show all posts

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What's Happened to the National Language Academy?

The Academia Nacional de la Lengua on La Plaza del Periodista:
Now part of the Florida Drug Court System?¿
No, despite drug court overcrowding, Colombia's National Language Academy has not been rented to the Florida court system, altho it looked that way today.

The Academia Nacional de la Lengua's headquarters building on the Plaza del Periodista in La Candelaria, sported new signs on its windows announcing 'Judicial Circuit * Florida State Courts,' men in State of Florida police uniforms patrolled in front toting M-16s, and a crowd in front waved signs in English and Spanish saying things like 'Death Penalty for Drug Dealers' and 'Drugs Kill...Hang the Dealers.' To top things off, the statue of writer, Colombian president and Language Academy founder Miguel Antonio Caro had his name covered up and was flanked by the flags of the United States and the U.S. state of Florida.

Had the Academy's already building been sold to the gringos, in anticipation of the imminent U.S.-Colombian Free Trade Agreement? 

In fact, the academy's was rented out and dressed up for the taping of a miniseries called 'El Capo,' about an imaginary extradition of cocaine king Pablo Escobar's wife and daughter to Florida for trial. Escobar famously said he preferred 'a tomb in Colombia to a prison in the United States,' and got his wish after Colombian special forces gunned him down on a Medellin rooftop in 1993.

The Language Academy, well protected
by Florida cops with M-16s. 
Judging by the signs waved by the extras in front of the supposed courthouse, the message of the miniseries, to be broadcast both in Colombia and the U.S., will be 'prohibit drugs' and 'throw the drugs at drug dealers.' Some would argue, however, that the lesson from Escobar's fate is the opposite: almost two decades after his death, Colombia continues to be the world's biggest cocaine producer, and while narco violence has dropped here, it's surged in Mexico and Central America. (A just-released movie,, argues that the War on Drugs has failed.)

Guess we're still in Colombia - a TransMilenio bus passes by. 
Pity long-suffering Colombia. It's become more stabilized, slashed crime rates and done its
best to repackage itself as a land of wonderful culture, beautiful biodiversity and a profitable place to do business.

But the Cartagena Summit of the Americas, intended to show Colombia as an economic and political leader, got overshadowed by a prostitution scandal. And the media continue portraying Colombia as a land of drug dealers and drug violence.

A luminary of Colombia's National Language Academy looks uncomfortable flanked by foreign flags. 
'No Drogas, No Traficantes.'
A kid and a cop. 
Putting on the make-up.
'Drugs kill. Hang the dealers.'

Afterwards, Miguel Antonio Caro got his name back. but the window signs still say Florida courts. 

The orange-suited inmates on their way out. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Don't Blame Hollywood!

Shoot 'em up!
This evening, I ran across this television crew filming a new telenovela - to be called 'La Mariposa' - about drug cartels. They looked like the prohibition-era Chicago mobsters.

Colombians often blame Hollywood for perpetuating an image of Colombia full of drugs and violence while the Colombian government tries to sell the country as a tourist paradise.

The object of our affection, a loaded armored car.
But Colombian media also do their part in scarring their nation's image. Recently, government officials, newspapers and others have criticized the country's TV producers for glorifying narcotraffickers and painting Colombian history as more violent than it actually was. (The country has suffered some five civil wars, as well as huge riots, insurgencies, etc etc.- so is fictional violence needed?)

The neighbors love it! It's even better than television. 
Newspapers complain that the miniseries and soap operas will lure kids into criminal lives. Television producers respond that 'it's art'.

Cartel de los Sapos: Guns, money, cars, beautiful women - what more could a mobster ask for?
In fact, sex and violence sell, here and in the U.S. And television and the movies happily and profitably provide them, with few moral compunctions about the consequences. And Colombians do eat up violence - as tho real-life didn't have enough of it. The country still has an armed conflict in remote regions and a homicide rate far higher than that in the developed world.

The gunfight over, the casualties rise again. It doesn't happen this way in real life. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours