The Hidden Truth of Bogotá By Patricia Wakhusama

Friday, April 7, 2017TOPICS: Study Abroad


What is the first thing you notice, when you look at the pictures above? Is it the art, the empty road, the buildings? Well we can all see that! But most importantly what do you see? The city of Bogotá is very beautiful. With a blend of colonial and modern architecture, the city boasts street art, colossal museums and friendly businessmen and women who make the city what it is.  Bogotá is a melting pot of people from around the country from diverse cultures. However the growth and influx of diversity in to the city should not be taken as any form of ordinary urbanization. The country has faced a long protracted conflict between rebel groups and paramilitaries that has nearly displaced a majority of the communities in the rural area.

The city doesn't seem to have been impacted by the conflict, despite the heavy presence of the military, instead it seems to be thriving. The heart of the conflict was mainly experienced in the rural areas, where the guerilla groups had much control. As a result, a majority Colombians left their homes and came to the capital. The conflict not only tore families apart, but culture was lost. On the BOGOTA GRAFFITI TOUR, art on the walls illustrated how the conflict had affected the indigenous group’s culture.

Hopeful for a Peaceful Future?

 After decades of conflict, it would be assumed that the negotiated peace deal was going to bear fruit and bring Colombia out of conflict. The Colombian government and peacebuilding practitioners were shocked by the failed plebiscite. Despite this failure, the government went ahead and revised the peace deal; and three months later it was approved by Congress.

While interacting with locals in Bogotá, I wanted to find out why this comprehensive peace agreement that had been applauded around the world had failed. In my inquiry I realized that awareness about the peace agreement was low. A lot of the locals had either not read the peace agreement or had been misinformed. This phenomenon was not new to me at all; after all a majority of African leaders especially in my home country Kenya, have perpetually persuaded locals into voting for them through propaganda.

During our stays in Bogotá, we were fortunate to meet a senator who supported Alvaro Uribe, the former President of Colombia that was antagonistic of the peace deal. Her perspective on the peace agreement was mind boggling. All she spoke about was how the current leader President Juan Manuel Santos was a communist. When asked by one of our fellow students what she would change in the peace agreement; she vehemently said that she would overturn everything. At the end of the session I was very much convinced that if the political leaders of Colombia continued in this trend, the hope for a peaceful Colombia may be snuffed out. Political polarization in the near future will have an opinion towards the democracy of the country, state institutions and the peace agreement. As Colombia approaches their elections in 2018, it is my hope that they will not result to violence.

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies


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