During the 1980s and 1990s Medellín, Colombia was infamous for drug cartels, kidnappings, high murder rate etc. After a testing period of peace, reconciliation and hopes, the specters of violence in Medellín, especially San Javier La Loma (13th district) are returning. The crimes like murders and kidnappings by armed gang and drug cartels have increased in recent months. Members of the Rising Voices grantee HiperBarrio are witnessing the events and are braving to express their fear, outrage, uncertainties and hopes via blog posts.
Crazyflowamen at Convergentes Blog reports:
The public order situation is very tense in La Loma and tends to be getting worse. There are clashes with bullets in the early hours of the day and emptiness is abundant on the streets.
I come home and my grandmother told me that I should leave the neighborhood because I have become the target of groups who are vying for territory and who respect nothing.
How long will these gangs or bigoted people continue to bother us? Why should innocent people pay? There are many questions that I ask myself. I do not know what to think. I'm crying … I cannot believe it.
Camela at Convergentes Blog narrates the fearful ordeals:
It's past midnight and I cannot sleep, and it is hard to do when death walks so close by. I cannot concentrate on reading, because the shots are heard closer and closer and more often.
The dogs bark incessantly, which makes me think that “those people” are out there, very close to this little house, which is our only refuge and our only home.
About eight years ago the inhabitants of the La Loma lived in a similar situation. We live in San Gabriel, in the midst of this absurd crossover game, or better to say that we survive, because seeing the light of a new day has become a true miracle.
It is outrageous having to stop doing our work, leave the food thrown on the floor and everything we do, to run away and hide in the safest place in the house like frightened mice trying to survive.
Why do our healthy habits have to change? Why can't we leave whenever we please, to walk down the street to celebrate a night with a full moon in peace like we used to? No, we cannot, because some fools decided to put limits on our freedom, our free will, our steps, and our lives.
I'm talking, or rather, I am writing from my anger, my pain, my helplessness and my fear, and I know that there are many who feel the same way and have to swallow their anger, their pain, helplessness and fear because talking means dying.
Still she has hopes:
But fortunately there is this space, which by the word we can share these feelings that come together in our minds, we are so sad and tired of injustice, tired of the blood, death, hearing the painful cries of mothers with pain you call upon heaven to send back their boys.
Blueandtanit (Catalina Urquijo) writes:
Violence does not stop, while some believe that it is public territory and they steal, kill, terrorize the people … In Medellin we face public transports stoppages.. or when the taxi driver says “the
taxi goes only to here, I am not going up there” to the invisible border crossing where people die… And that war is, as ever was known, never finished
Alvaro Ramirez reports that:
The residents of La Loma find themselves at a time of high risk and and awaiting an imminent attack. There are areas where you cannot go out at night where there are shootings involving illegal groups of teenagers who are armed which are repeated without remedy, scaring all the neighbors and making it impossible to sleep and get the well-deserved rest.
The authorities were alerted and showed up a few days ago in La Loma. [..] But violence continues to be relentlessly terrifying.
Alvaro adds quoting El Spectador newspaper that there are indications that the police is working with a group to fight another – so the citizens cannot trust them.
Yesenia shares her experience how abnormal La Loma seemed when she returned from the Global Voices Summit in Chile and asks the important question “What shall we do?”
Juan Carlos, a commenter in her post shares this optimism:
The only masters of our destiny are ourselves … not presidents, or mayors … nobody owns our lives. The choice is in our hands! Let us unite and let us return to peace ….!! no more! no more shots, no more hatred, no more death! …
Las Vecinas Imaginarias (Neighboring Imaginary) also has these questions to ask the neighborhood:
Should we tolerate unscrupulous individuals who do evil things, not only violent deaths, but also exploiting and humiliating different human beings?
What is our future unless we work to change these present realities?
We will be eagerly waiting to read how the citizens of La Loma take back their city from violence, disarm youths and repel those who wants to harm them.
Eduardo Avila helped with the translation.