Globe, Latin America, Lifestyle, Ludotheque

When missiles rained down on Bogotá

For the second time, and only a few days after reaching my seventh decade of wandering this earth, I nostalgically relive the possibility of nuclear disaster…this time on the Korean peninsula.


Cuba - Militay - TanksArmando Orozco Tovar


I remember all too well the great fear that struck the world when news broke of nuclear war in the Caribbean.

The fear was certainly great, because when you’re young, even though there’s still plenty of powder around, no one wants to leave this world too soon.

When the Cuban Missile Crisis actually happened, many inhabitants of the village of Bogotá were on alert, watching the sky and waiting for atomic darts to appear above their heads. As descendants of the Muisca Indians, they made metaphorical links between the American nuclear warheads and arrows from their past enemies.

De cuando los 05In October 1962, pedestrians on Seventh Avenue watched the skies of Montserrat, the city’s mountain guardian, in terror. They sensed the darts’ imminent arrival, as posters had been put up the previous day alluding to the impending catastrophe between the USA and the USSR, which could have wiped Cuba off the map. Their heroic supreme leader warned: “Our island will sink into the sea…before we allow it to be enslaved.” As the imperialists pointed out, the Russians could withdraw the missiles which were making the island a huge nuclear submarine.

The posters were designed by some anonymous advertising genius, and the clever drawings warned how missiles could be built in any lodge, house, inn or nuclear bunker. I remember it well, because the things we have mistakenly forgotten today correspond all too well to our modified “Macondismo” magical realism.

Who would create such a poster? Who would draw such perfect anti-nuclear basements, a safe haven to weather the storm in any capital city residence, similar to the “people’s prisons” built many years later by the M-19, imitating those of the Tupamaros, in Uruguay.

50 años de la crisis de los misiles 3These posters, captioned “Vote for America’s second Fidel”, filled the city centre and were displayed around the same time as the election of a bourgeois intellectual figure in “short sleeves”; Alfonso Lopez Michelsen, head of the Liberal Revolutionary Movement (MRL) and a former Greek and Cuban leader.

Neither of these things came to pass. Many, like me, became disillusioned with Michelsen, as no Russian or liberal missiles came to Bacatá; there was no revolution or anything else for the people after he came to power. The posters stayed on the walls for a long time, thanks to the glue or ‘paste’ that was mysteriously prepared by us young Communists.

De cuando los 03Today the “October Crisis” has returned, except this time it took place in April and it wasn’t in the Caribbean. It was, however, in the same place where the submissive Americans (much like our Government is with us) stationed the Colombian Battalion during the Korean Conflict in the early 50s, to disembowel Chinese children, in order to sell Coca-Cola to the communist Asian peninsula without interference.

But unlike this past “Crisis”, this new nuclear noise, along with the media hype which must be read over and over again, it is not the North making threats or attacking anyone; it’s the same as ever, and we’re no longer as scared of anyone as we were at that time.

The world has changed, but we’re still touched by the death of Hugo Chavez, and we feel the joy of his successor Maduro’s victory, as well as the continuation of the Bolivian Revolution on April 14th.


(Translated by Marie-Thérèse Slorach – Email:

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