In 1985, M-19 guerrillas took over the Palace of Justice in Bogota demanding the then-president stand trial. The army immediately lay siege to the building and fired rockets at its walls despite the innocents inside and in the final assault more than 100 soldiers, hostages and guerrillas were killed. Thirteen survivors, mostly cafeteria workers, were detained by the army as suspected M-19 members. They were tortured and disappeared and executed. Exactly a week later, more then 23,000 people were killed when the Nevado del Ruiz volcano erupted in Tolima.
In the early 1990s, Medellin was the most dangerous city in the world, a swamp of kidnapping, rape, robbery, murder, where five year olds in the playground would joke, what is Pablo Escobar’s daughter getting for Christmas? And they’d say the Barbie car bomb
P said that sometimes the people would feel as though it was overwhelming them it was over their head they would be sinking in the swamp drowning and so they would hold onto any branch any good thing and they would cling onto that hope like it was the last chopper out of Saigon and they would pull themselves out of the swamp with all their strength and they could BREATHE again.
When a grenade was thrown from a metro platform into the square below it was forgotten, because what the fuck’s a grenade?
Colombia is consistently ranked highly in indices of the happiest countries in the world. A person’s happiness at a point in time is determined by the whole of their life course. How is it possible for Colombians to be so happy after La Violencia and the bombs and the cartels and the terror when EVERYTHING rested on a foundation of sand?
P said that history has given Colombians an ability to find goodness in the smallest things. In the 1990 World Cup, Colombia drew with West Germany 1-1 in the group stages and the goal is still celebrated and repeated on television today, and when Luis Herrera won a STAGE of the Tour de France in 1984 the whole country went crazy.
The metro was the biggest branch of them all. With no money, no knowledge of how to build a metro, how could the world’s most dangerous city build such a thing? It became a symbol for people to wipe the tears falling down from their eyes and put the decade of the eighties behind them. For this reason there are no scratches on its windows, no graffiti, litter on the floor.
It is impossible to be always smiling, happy all of the time, and I guess I’m privileged so it’s easier for me to be miserable. Lately I have been climbing out of bed wanting to smash things, feeling bored, despondent, feeling like I am moving towards something and towards nothing. My flip flops broke and so did my trousers and my boots are squeaking and somebody spilled our milk and Shaun blew us out and trying arranging a boat to Panama and everything is annoying me, I just want to hide.
Then I thought about what I’ve said here. Looked in the mirror, almost handsome. I’ve got the god damn world by the balls.
I felt better, almost.