23 short reflections of living in Bogotá for three years

Unbelievable but true. Already since October 2013, I have the pleasure and adventure to live in the capital of Colombia, Bogotá. In this article I reflect about my general impressions that I have had:

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History in the making in Colombia: Agreement about justice and reparations for victims

The word “historic” is used quite a bit these days. And yet, the agreement reached between the Colombian government and the FARC is such an historic event, although we will have to wait most likely until 23 March 2016, until a final peace agreement is going to be signed. What happened? The government and the leftist guerrilla group reached an agreement inside the fourth point on the negotiation agenda, the victims chapter and decided to sign a final peace agreement in the next six months. Continue reading “History in the making in Colombia: Agreement about justice and reparations for victims”

Clarifying the past: Colombia’s big step forward at peace negotiations

Colombia will create a truth commission. The Colombian government and the left-wing guerrilla FARC decided on 4 June 2015 to set up a body that should clarify major human rights violations committed by all sides. It should reveal past atrocities, recognize the victims and make sure that these kinds of crimes will not be repeated in the future. While a big step forward, many challenges remain ahead. Continue reading “Clarifying the past: Colombia’s big step forward at peace negotiations”

Reflecting on peace education with “Somos CaPAZes”

Over the period of seven months, I was part of “Somos CaPAZes”, an NGO consisting of students and young professionals who work with disadvantaged children in Bogotá. More precisely, we worked in peace education in Ciudad Bolívar, the poorest part of Colombia’s capital Bogotá. Continue reading “Reflecting on peace education with “Somos CaPAZes””

Why peace is ideological in Colombia

Peace is not aspired by everyone in Colombia, despite the fact that the country is living in historic times to bring its civil war to an end, which has caused more than 220,000 deaths and 6,864,934 victims (mostly displaced people). In fact, the debate about peace is an ideological battle between the left and the right. Many armed actors are involved in violence, intimidation and in drug trafficking. However, the ideological view usually allows just a limited perspective one has on the conflict.
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Decision between war and peace in Colombia

The first round in the Colombian presidential elections brought the two favorites into a run-off that will take place on 15 June 2014. However, it was quite surprising that it was Iván Óscar Zuluaga who gained almost 30% while incumbent Juan Manuel Santos only obtained 25% of the votes. Considering the fact that just half a year ago Zuluaga was basically unknown among Colombians and Santos was able to use all the state machinery in his favor, this first round certainly was a surprise. Now, the run-off will decide between war and peace in Colombia. Continue reading “Decision between war and peace in Colombia”

Presenting the six Colombian presidential candidates

The political climate in Colombia is poisoned. The race for the highest post in Colombian politics is mostly influenced by a person who is not even running, former president Álvaro Uribe. The battle between president-candidate Juan Manuel Santos and Óscar Zuluaga, the puppet of Uribe who is today the arch enemy of Santos, is characterized by dirty campaigning and startling accusations against each other. However, in total there are six candidates in the race (including a non-existing one) to be the next president. This blog post will present all of them. Continue reading “Presenting the six Colombian presidential candidates”

Colombia: Why Santos has such a hard time to be re-elected

Santos (c) es.wikipedia.org

Imagine an election where you have candidates to chose from but you have no idea whom to vote for. Colombia’s presidential elections are just 10 days to go, and yet my (liberal and probably rather left-leaning) friends in Bogotá say that they have no clue whom they should vote for on 25 May. According to the latest polls, it is not clear if current president Juan Manuel Santos (62) will be re-elected, for sure he is not going to make in the first round. Continue reading “Colombia: Why Santos has such a hard time to be re-elected”

Colombia’s left not wanted in politics

The former mayor of Bogotá Gustavo Petro. He was kicked out of office on 20 March 2014. (c) Wikipedia

It was like a telenovela, a Colombian soap opera. The fight between the mayor of Bogotá and the country’s powerful inspector general has dominated the headlines in Colombia since early December 2013. It was, as the New York Times put it, “an absurdist drama in which two actors alternately fascinate and irritate their audience with squabbling, philosophizing and the occasional kick in the pants.” On 20 March 2014, however, the leftist mayor was removed from office by Colombia’s president and is barred from public office for 15 years. This decision has not only an impact on local politics in Colombia’s capital but also on the peace process on Cuba between the Colombian government and the FARC. Continue reading “Colombia’s left not wanted in politics”