La Guerra contra las drogas en Colombia // The War on Drugs in Colombia

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(Español abajo)

June 8, 2018

The day started, as usual, with a recap of the previous day’s workshops. Yesterday, we discussed former President Ronald Reagan’s role in the Nicaraguan Revolution by analyzing a speech he gave to the U.S. Congress in 1984. In studying this salient Cold War event, we concluded that it marked the moment when the U.S. became a leading military power, setting a worldwide standard for the weaponization of militaries and police forces in respective countries. It also marked a period of modern U.S. interventionism into Central and South American affairs, paving the way for the Mérida Initiative, Plan Colombia, and other strategies designed to combat prevalent drug trafficking in the Americas.

After the recap, we started our first lesson of the day on land ownership in Central America. In Paraguay, farmers only own 6 percent of the land they farm, the rest is owned by large corporations. In Colombia, 1 percent of indigenous women have access to credit and fifty percent of the land is unregulated. As we learned from an animated short film, 6 million people are displaced in Colombia and fifty eight percent of those displaced are from rural areas. A few of our Colombian classmates shared their personal experiences with displacement; one was forced off of his family farm by cartels and had to move to the city. Although it often carries with it an abstract monetary value, land has a deeper, sentimental value attached to it. To victims of displacement, like indigenous peoples and farmers of Colombia (or even victims of gentrification and segregation in cities), land ownership means something entirely different than what it means to corporations, like the United Fruit Company; land ownership means autonomy, home, and community.

After our fruitful discussion on the implications of land ownership, we split up into groups for a graphic novel workshop intended to further explore the tangible and turbulent relationship between the Colombian people and land. Our task was to illustrate the process of Colombian guerrilla groups, like M-19 and FARC, becoming involved in the coca trade, and tracking their relationship to infamous drug cartels, like the Medellin. It was a complex task to research and visualize such a complex history in a coherent way, especially with so many social actors involved. However, through the task, we were able to simplify this complex history, and enlighten our fellow classmates on how a counter revolutionary group, like FARC, abandoned their founding, communist principles to fund their organization and weaponry through the lucrative cocaine trade.

After lunch, we had a rare opportunity to have a conversation with one of the architects of Plan Colombia. After learning about the several negative repercussions of the War on Drugs initiative, which was first implemented in 1999, on the citizenry of Colombia, I expected to harbor a lot of anger and negativity towards our guest speaker. However, his presentation and the subsequent dialogue we had with him was interesting in that it offered a fresh perspective on the lasting impact of the methodology of the War on Drugs, and it gave us a more nuanced perspective on the intent of the government agents involved in architecting the War on Drugs. Still, our guest speaker's argument in favor of Plan Colombia and especially fumigation wasn’t very strong, and several of my Colombian classmates disagreed with his statement that the Plan left Colombia better off now than it was in 2000.

Finally, we had our second and final choreography workshop with contemporary dancer, Mariana Arteaga. The workshop was a new experience for me. Growing up, I’d always assumed that I couldn’t dance, but our workshop taught me that dance can incorporate many forms, including trust falls, sound landscapes, and group choreography. After a day heavy with learning about structure, government, and group violence, focusing on the personal and the self felt very recentering. The Catalyst curriculum, so far, has given me a wide range of new experiences and interactions, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Anna, NYC, USA

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El dia de hoy fue un gran día, ya que aprendí nuevas cosas muy útiles para mi vida.

Primero fuimos a la sala ha hacer el check-in y tomar un tiempo para meditar y relajar la mente. Después, nos trasladamos al Mango, en donde hablamos de desplazamiento forzado.  Algunos de mis compañeros compartieron sus historias experiencias personales en relación con este tema. Me impactó mucho el sentimiento que tenemos frente a estas situaciones porque hay personas que han sufrido en carne propia la consecuencia del conflicto armado sin ser culpables y sin previo aviso de un desalojo. Dejar el hogar de un momento para otro es muy duro, por lo que pienso que debemos concientizarnos.

Miramos unos videos relacionados con el desplazamiento forzado por fuerzas armadas en Colombia, que generaron opiniones alrededor de la injusticia que existe en contra de los campesinos o pueblos indígenas que tienen que abandonar su casa por el temor a morir.

Después, los facilitadores nos presentaron a Gera, un ex alumno de Catalizador que nos contó su experiencia en el programa y nos dio algunas recomendaciones de cómo disfrutar esta experiencia al máximo.

A través de los videos vistos relacionados con el desplazamiento y la información que nos brindaron los facilitadores, se nos proporcionaron 40 minutos para organizarnos en grupos y debatir sobre el tema.

Por la tarde, tuvimos la oportunidad de escuchar la perspectiva de unos de los arquitectos detrás del Plan Colombia, una plan entre Estados Unidos y Colombia para combatir el narcotráfico, el cual tuvo impactos sociales muy severos. Desde su punto de vista, el Plan sirvió para mermar el conflicto en Colombia. Aunque yo no estoy de acuerdo con esta postura, considero que  es bueno escuchar todo tipo de opiniones. Los logros y efectos de esta estrategia son muy distintos para las personas que diseñan el Plan y para que lo viven en carne propia.

Después de la llamada fuimos a almorzar y luego a aprender a bailar con una coreógrafa llamada Mariana. La coreografía consistía en hacer un baile colectivo sin líderes y sin la necesidad de ser bailarines profesionales.


Para cerrar el día, expusimos nuestros planes sobre los proyectos que llevaremos a cabo una vez que volvamos a nuestras comunidades. El ejercicio me emocionó porque hizo que me diese cuenta sobre los temas que existen en común entre los proyectos y me hizo pensar en futuras colaboraciones.

Liced, Cauca, Colombia

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