With her love for poetry and a degree in International Business from the University of Westminster Johanna Zuleta is like a career who looks after Latin American culture in London.
She has a goal: to create a new link between Latin and British arts and culture able to influence the business environment and making it more ethic and a bit fairer.
“I was born in Colombia and I have lived in London for10 years” she tells us sitting in the backstage space of Bolivar Hall, a place owned by the Venezuelan Embassy and dedicated to Latin American art and culture in London.
Why did you decide to come to London?
Many people come to London for different reasons, career, studies, and in my case it was a personally to do with family. When I was 18 I had a car crash in Colombia and this changed my perception of things and life in many ways, at that moment I realized life can be gone in an instant. I changed my perceptions and slowed down since I was a bit hyperactive, and then I also thought at that time part of my family lived here, hence the decision to come here.
How do you describe your personality?
It’s difficult to trace me, as I am a ‘mélange’. I feel like a ‘mélange’ a mixture. My parents separated when I was born, so I grew up with grandparents from my father’s family. My grandfather was a business man and came from a writers’ family, maybe I’ve inherited his nature. I also loved poetry and always practiced it since I was very young.
I think art in this respect can do much. I’m involved in art which can do much more in terms of helping Latin American culture to be recognized in an environment in which nowadays people ask more about Shakira than Pablo Escobar when they think of Colombia. It’s like a candle that burns from both ends, on one side you have the popular movements that have permeated the local scene and on the other side, you also have people from Latin America that are leading in different fields and spheres.
Do you think Latin Americans are underrepresented in the UK, in terms of politics and rights?
Other than the institutions and organizations, such as the Latin American Countries Chamber of Commerce for instance, our communities are represented at many levels. In the past they have been received, and listened to, many times by the London administration. I was among the ones invited to talk on their behalf on many occasions, stressing, for instance, that in terms of democracy here in the UK and in South America as well, we have the same problems concerning human values, because we’re both supposed to be democratic countries. But in Colombia all governmental institutions are affected by corruption and what is happening in the UK nowadays with the Murdoch scandal for instance, makes me think the same is happening here.
In the global economy Latin America doesn’t play in the backyard any longer and the average annual growth of Latin American countries is 4%. Here in the UK it is about 3%. Development is happening there now. I have friends here who are moving to Colombia and Brazil, some are Europeans, others are natives going back. I think, looking at Latin American people I know here, many of them look at their native countries as a place to go back to because of their economic growth.
Are you planning to go back too?
I think I want to live in between, to develop those cultural links and deep connections which are today the UK-Latin ties, this is also something related to the necessity to link business to culture and ethics.