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The illustrators of life

“There is too much blood; too much violence”,  Albert Camus.  I had thought that I would start the year with good memories and nostalgia. However, the Charlie Hebdo massacre has brought back memories of when, in the late 80s, Castaño’s paramilitaries shot down ‘JUCO’ militants – a Communist Youth group – in their own headquarters in Medellin – amongst them a pregnant woman.


Armando Orozco Tovar


The difference between this massacre and the recent atrocity in the City of Light, in response to which four million people marched in protest through all of France and in many European cities, is that in Medallo and the whole of Colombia, nobody came forward to denounce the occurrence with posters, balloons and banners reading, “Yo soy Juco”; the sort of slogan that today lines the Champs Elysees: “Je Suis Charlie”. The hundreds of Colombian executions and disappearances of communists, members of the Patriotic Union, (more than five thousand including those of M-19) and citizens in general, which also occurred,received little if any press or television coverage despite the magnitude of the events at the time.

The internet did not exist and nor did social networks, that these days would have been used to expose the crimes on an international level.

Nor were there surveillance cameras on every corner, ready to catch the movements and faces of the murderers who, upon accomplishing their mission, hid in their employers’ dens, all of whom were allied with high military command and the police, having paid them large sums of money gained through drug trafficking.

Today, unlike in the past, these electronic devices managed to capture the images of the black-hooded figures in Paris, these cowards not only tried to put an end to satirical writing,but ended the life of an injured person, who was killed in the street.

In Colombia some of the instigators of such massacres, for reasons different to those in Europe, are still on the loose, tanning themselves by the swimming pools at their massive houses.

Whileover in the East and in Europethe turbaned masters of death order to kill in the name of God, kneeling inside their mosques full of oil. They pray to Allah, who they believe orders them to commit such crimes in the name of the prophet.

With this tall tale the fundamentalists form their arguments, backed by their hefty capital, because as we know, in essence, religious wars do not exist, only economic ones. In Colombia the threats made against the left-wing weeklies persist, to publications including “Voice: The Truth of the People”; forcing their editors to be on guard constantly, day and night, to live in fortresses of fortified doors and windows; a precaution to avoid any unexpected aggression, the likes of which was just witnessed in Paris.

Today the shocking incident brings to mind the Colombian massacres of the past, which fortunately now happen less frequently.

Even a Colombian assassin, however, does not arrive at such intellectual squalor. Wiping out an entire editorial of anti-religious, anti-fanaticism cartoonists – who are safely in France and Europe – will surely serve far-right racists and xenophobes who try to expel – by way of Nazi methods – thousands of international immigrants who arrive to the mainland on a daily basis in rickety boats, searching for a better life, better work, health, training and education.

They come from everywhere, but most of all from the ancient, looted countries in Africa. ooted ancient Africa.

Some years ago in Bogota, comedian Jaime Garzón was shot in his car on his way to work.

Here however, “cuentachistes” (comedians) were not murdered, but rather cartoonists; knowing that humour is the most serious thing in existence.

Not forgetting Ricardo Rendón, the man who introduced the modern caricature and who, they say, shot himself. It seems certain that his enemies did this to him, hence caricaturing the country he lived in: conservative, clerical and old-fashioned. The truth surrounding his death will never be known.

Is it possible that one day religious fanaticism will come to an end? Sadly, I think not, because the rulers of the world will always do what they want,and the model will not change: The unpunished will continue to slit throats in plain view of all of the illustrators of life.

 (Translated by Eleanor Gooch) – Photos: Pixabay


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