Colombia: From the Marvellous to the Horrifyingly Real

Alberto Pinzón Sánchez the hotbed of anti-imperialist ideas that was the National University of Bogota in 1970, not much was known about the Summer Institute of Linguistics (ILV), about which numerous denunciations were made about the strange linguistic-religious management of clear neocolonialist content in different Colombian indigenous communities.

Thus, a fellow student and activist of the Juco U Nacional, a theater lover, said she was a friend of a young lawyer and journalist who had done extensive research on the subject and was willing to come to the department to have an “academic” discussion with future anthropologists, emphasizing the word “academic”. The proposal was widely accepted and that is how Fernando Garavito came to our auditorium and gave us a very detailed explanation of all the legal aspects that governed the relationship of that linguistic-religious agency of the USA, introduced by President Lleras Camargo during his government to teach literacy classes to the various indigenous peoples that at that time still remained in Colombian territory. It was clear to all of us who attended that talk that a broad avenue of exploration was opening up, which would later support the movement of denunciations and rejection that would culminate decades later in the departure of that linguistic institute from Colombia. I never saw Fernando Garavito in person again, although I continued to send him contributions for the cultural magazine he organized in Cali with the suggestive name of “Extravagario”, which he published with great success.

The journalist Garavito, an honest and sincere man of my generation, continued to pursue his vocation and expand denunciations, expanding his readers’ sympathies with exquisite and qualified columns where he portrayed the powerful, corrupt and venal rulers who were beginning to open the way for the narco-paramilitaries to take over the State; This earned him (like many other critical Colombian intellectuals such as García Márquez) not only antipathy, but the characteristic fascist hatred that poisons them from the inside.

When he wrote the column “Why do the architects of the embezzlement of the nation through the Pacific Bank occupy the highest administrative positions in the new government of President Uribe Velez”, he was fired from the “liberal and democratic” newspaper El Espectador. He was threatened and in 2002 he had to go into exile in the USA.

But fortunately, that same year, before dying in an unfortunate and strange traffic accident in one of those barren sandy areas that border some highway in the State of New Mexico, he had thrown a pebble on the smooth and still surface waters that cover that stagnant and decomposing lake called the Colombian regime, by having written, together with fellow American journalist Joseph Contreras, “The Unauthorized Biography of the Lord of the Shadows, Álvaro Uribe Vélez”, a pioneering and enlightening book that has continued to be published in successive editions, generating a wave of ever-widening concentric ripples in that still but irreversibly fermenting lake.

Then came a series of shocking public denunciations and truths told by the thousands of victims of the atrocities that the “Lord of the Shadows” described by Garavito and Contreras, who silently and protected by official impunity, had ordered his cronies and accomplices to commit in his fanatic and bloodthirsty race towards the power of the Colombian State and the seizure of its institutions. The more denunciations, the more impunity, cynicism and law of silence; more stigmatization and military repression against the denouncers, accusing them of being followers of the anti-colonialist and liberating Simón Bolívar and the Apostle Martí, insulting them with the accusation of being “Castro Chavistas”, when unsuspectingly the vituperation was a stimulating honor encouraging them to continue with the denunciations and total resistance.

Finally the writings of Garavito and Contreras, enriched and updated by the lawyer journalist Daniel Mendoza, in a web documentary series under the name of Matarife, an unmentionable genocide, began to definitively erode the image of the “attractive leader with the face of an eternal Teflon-coated teenager to whom nothing sticks” (woe to Semana magazine), until it lost all its legitimacy and legality and turned the unmentionable lord of the shadows into the simple “subjudice” delinquent he is now.

Today, International Day of the Proletariat, May 1, 2021, the Colombian people, a little more aware of the real character (as they say) of their leaders and rulers, who after the assassination of J E Gaitan in 1948 knew how to mount a regime of counterinsurgent horror and since the early 70’s managed to shield it with the fascist-narco-paramilitary hordes and carapintadas commanded by the Lord of the Shadows; are showing in the Colombian streets and highways the deep social and human crisis to which the inflated wimp “Uribe” has finally led it. A generalized crisis that had been brewing for a long time in the depths of that peaceful lake of stagnant waters that could not be observed on its surface, but which the ruling classes were proudly exhibiting as one of the oldest democracies of the continent. A Creole Switzerland without Swiss, a South American Athens without Parthenon and without Greeks.

It would be better to say: A Colombia martyred for centuries by those ideological and political descendants of that other Lord of the Shadows of the nineteenth century, with a lubricious mustache wrapped in a red cloak of legality (anything as long as it is a law) called F. P. Santander, silent assassin of the Libertador. Santander, silent assassin of the Liberator Simón Bolívar, who left a political school to his oligarchic successors to preserve power on the basis of wars and massacres and, relying on the ignorance, passivity and kindness of our people, to turn the country into a horrifying and ignominious mass grave, a disgrace to suffering humanity.

But nothing is eternal in the world and today the mobilized popular conscience, fortunately announces that the Crisis of Hegemony of the Colombian regime is irreversible (crisis of hegemony according to the Gramscian concept) that, although because of the brutal armed repression may not be solved immediately, it is clear that it has entered a spiral of progressive development, towards its dialectical overcoming, the aufheben of the philosophy of praxis.

I do not hesitate to thank Fernando Garavito for the mental paths he opened for me: back in the Anthropology classroom in 1970 in the Summer Institute of Linguistics, which helped me to obtain my degree in anthropology, and again in 2002, with the biography of Uribe Vélez, which from the date of its publication helped me to develop the concept of Miniführer with which I was able to write so extensively about the Colombian fascist regime, for which the black swan has already begun to sing.

Alberto Pinzón Sánchez is a Colombian physician, anthropologist and essayist.

Translation by Internationalist 360°