Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Same/different



 Taken from my daily entry from www.750words.com

Bogotá, June 11th, 2012

Today I read an article written by Juan Gossain, a journalist with a huge background in the Colombian media. He mentioned an incident carried out by Simon Gaviria, the president of the Cámara de Diputados de Antioquia. While discussing about alotting funds to the department of Chocó (one of the poorest areas on the Pacific coast), he shouted that giving funds to Chocó was like giving pearls to pigs due to the high amount of corruption among political leaders and civil servants there. The comment echoed inevitably in the local newspapers and Juan Gossain published an interesting article about regional diversity. He said basically Colombians have made our huge cultural diversity into a useless struggle of regions. If we want to insult each other, we name our hometowns and the worst stereotypes of each region we come from. Instead of being proud of our cultural diversity, we insult each other for being different. 

We are not learning from each other. We don’t know what it is like in distant regions like the Amazon or Chocó or Orinoquía. They don’t have a clue about how Pastusos live because there's no awareness of our identity as Colombians. I had already felt that. We are a country that has suffered from corruption, war, terrorism and inequality for so long that we are already used to it and we don’t recognize the richness of the different idiosyncrasies in our country. We need to develop an identity as Colombians because we feel so ashamed of being ourselves especially in front of people from other countries....we feel we don't have anything to show due to the awful fame we have (drugs, war, corruption). We need to develop an identity as Colombians by recognizing we are so different!!! Cachacos are different from llaneros, the latter are different from Costeños, the latter are different from isleños, we are all different and part of the same country (I feel we are all different because the areas where we live are geographically so different, we couldn’t be exactly the same. That's the feeling I have but I'd love to really know if that's true). 

If we constructed some kind of identity based on the awareness of our cultural diversity, we could come up with ideas like sustainable tourism, sustainable transportation, people could think of businesses that took advantage of e.g. local knowledge. Or the elderly could have a place in our communities. Loads of ideas come to my mind (Institutional projects in schools, community projects with vulnerable communities, projects related to the promotion of cultural diversity and tolerance, etc.). To my mind, Colombians need to start a huge healing process that purge so many years of violence and corruption. A healing process that allows Colombians recognize each other as different ones, sharing the same country but living in it in a different way.

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