|Typical Colombian scene, so some think|
What we’re referring to is, in short, the thinking that Colombia is a relatively backward, extremely unsafe and unstable country where locals and ex-pats alike live in constant fear for their lives. It’s an image that the state is desperately, but seemingly with little success, trying to shake-off – the national tourist board’s slogan of ‘the only danger is wanting to stay’ being one semi-humorous attempt to portray a more positive global impression.
An elderly uncle living in Chicago saw on the news there that, we can only assume, it had all ‘kicked-off’ in Colombia. This, again we have to suppose, all spiralled from a US news report on the killing of 11 Colombian soldiers by FARC rebels, in the department of Arauca, 250 miles south-east of Bogotá. Now terrible as that is, it does not mean the whole country is under siege. But for many people, including some foreign journalists who live in environments here which are quite removed from the daily lives of the vast majority of locals, such an incident fits perfectly into their image of a volatile country. Therefore, any killing here is a sign of Colombia’s endemic insecurity.
|'Dangerous' Bogotá - a harmless student protest dance|
Many of the locals, especially those from the upper-classes, tend to perpetuate the belief that the place is very dangerous – who are we to disagree with those who were actually born and bred here. These people however are inclined to stay in their ‘safe-zones’, rarely venturing outside of them into what they perceive as ‘no-go’ areas. Such practices are based on decades of fierce instability, something which understandably takes time to move on from.