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Monday, March 07, 2011

Los Andes Students

National Conference of the Afro-Colombian Organization (CNOA)
(Translated by Emily Schmitz, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, a CSN volunteer editor.)
**All monetary values in this article are expressed in Colombian Pesos**
It has been awhile since feeling an embarrassment for others; a feeling perceived when someone is "sticking their noses" where they shouldn't but fails to realize it or the consequences of their actions. These feelings are uncomfortable because they are internal experiences of which nothing can be done to avoid. And so, with the words of president Santos, in a gesture of generosity (perhaps better expressed as solidarity for the elite), shame was felt when he promised to double compensation amounts upon finding those responsible for the death of two University of Los Andes biology students. The $250 million reward increased to $500 million. What dedication and generosity to find the guilty. It's perfect! There is only one tiny difficulty which not even diligent means of communication in Bogota could detect. It is obvious that front page news is misleading, as it showed the burial of the two students, and tramples the remaining "provincial" Colombians who do not belong to the Bogota elite. What do they have that makes them so special? What categories of Colombians deserve this unusual display of open news broadcast and such an astronomical reward?
The Governor of Córdoba said it well: "And where were the means of national communication that were not aware of more than 500 assassinations in the department of Córdoba? Did they not deserve this display or monetary rewards? Why were these two victims from Bogota recognized while the rest of the dead were ignored?" After time, such a strong sense of overbearing discrimination is no longer felt as it was following the death of these students. Assassination deserves national repudiation. It also reveals with clarity difficult to hide that, in Colombia, there are first class citizens and second class citizens. News sources intended to convert the death of this student, the grandson of a powerful business entrepreneur in Bogota into a "national tragedy." The photograph of his burial took front page news, was announced in the forefront of news broadcasts and ended with Santos's inflated offer. Meanwhile, monetary rewards for the assassination of the mayor of Puerto Asís's grandson are only valued at $50 million. Even political power was stronger than economic: winning money over democratic hierarchy. The death of a "provincial" boy, assassinated a week later, did not make front page news nor open emissions. He is from the "other" category of Colombians…
A few unfortunate declarations from University of Los Andes classmates helped further reinforce the difference between these "two Colombias:" of those with economic power and those without. They expressed with surprise, stating they didn't understand "why these things happen in Colombia." Which country do these students live in? They don't know the risks and dangers existing in this country, of which they intellectually "study" but of which they do not seem in tune or synchronized? Here again, the responsibility of the media was capitalized: they intended to make it a national tragedy creating hateful discrimination that could not be balanced even three days later in Puerto Asís. Not even the government!
Now is the time to realize how the manipulation of information ends up being a slap to the dignity of those Colombians who do not belong to the elite class.
National Conference of the Afro-Colombian Organization (CNOA)
Fax: (57-1) 3455520
Calle 67 No. 14A-26 Bogota, Colombia
This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.



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