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Hiperbarrio: Bloggers on Violence in Medellín

This is a post by Lully Posada of Hiperbarrio, simultaneously published in Global Voices Online.

Violence, murder, theft and crime are constant affairs in Medellín, Colombia and its metropolitan area; issues all people must learn to live with and a social phenomenon that has grown in the last year. Members of the Rising Voices grantee Hiperbarrio expressed their feelings and different viewpoints on this matter in their personal and group blogs.

Yuliana Paniagua, in the Hiperbarrio site [es], highlights the area of Castilla, where members of the blog Hope Revolution (Revolución Esperanza) went to take pictures. She also shows the importance of Hiperbarrio as a positive alternative for the community.

Jorge Vasquez wrote at Villactivos collective blog [es] about the influence of a lack of values as a result of an uncontrollable situation, despite the government's investment in military spending:

Se ha configurado aquí un mundo del sigilo, de la desconfianza, de la prevención, en el cual reconocer un error es resbalar, un mundo con sus propios leyes, iconos y figuras ejemplares para los jóvenes provenientes de los bajos mundos, de las imágenes de los comerciantes de los medios de comunicación serios, que han hecho de la apología del violento un negocio lucrativo. Un mundo despiadado, donde al niño se le enseña con el ejemplo, que ser bondadoso con el otro es ser tonto, que disputar el centímetro de calle, el pupitre en el colegio, el favor de la pareja es lo que vale. Y aquí están algunos de estos barrios hechos a imagen, semejanza y escala del egoísmo de los poderosos, unos más, otros menos, como vórtices de fuego, mientras la autoridad, de este país, que está entre los 10 de mayor gasto militar en el mundo, no ha podido controlar la sinfonía de fusiles que arrulla el sueño de sus habitantes.

What has been set up here is a world of secrecy, mistrust, prevention, in which recognizing a mistake is slipping, a world with its own laws, icons and exemplars for young people from the underworld, from the images by the businessmen in the serious media, who have made a lucrative business our of the advocacy of violence. A heartless world, where the child is taught by example, that to be kind to another is to be dumb, that to compete for a centimeter of a street, for a desk at school, for the favor of a partner is what counts. And here are some of these neighborhoods made in the image, likeness and scale of the selfishness of the powerful, some more than others, like vortex of fire, while the authorities in this country, which is among the 10 largest military spenders in the world, has not been able to control the symphony of rifles that lulls the dream of its inhabitants.

Photo of Comuna 13 neighborhood in Medellín by author Lully Posada

Luis Elías, a member of Convergentes, cries out in his personal blog [es] for the war in the neighborhoods to stop. He wrote a second post [es] where he also refers to unemployment and laziness as causes for this violent situation:

Estoy harto de esta guerra , no respetan ni los niños menores de edad, ya lo utilizar como carrito para cargar armas, pero eso también va en los padres que no se han dado cuenta de lo que están haciendo sus hijos o también de los hermanos que están metidos en los grupos armados le piden en favor para que le lleve el cuerpo del delito , y para mal de todos acabar con los barrios que son buenos para vivir, ¿esto cuando se va a terminar? ¡Ojalá rápido! Matan a los que no tiene nada que ver con el conflicto.[

(…] cuando llega el desempleo o la falta de estudio para los jóvenes buscan otras opciones para salir de la misma rutina en la que estaban y probar cosas nuevas, cosas fáciles para sobrevivir en mundo que está lleno de corrupción.

I'm tired of this war, they don’t even respect under-age children, they use [them] as a cart to carry weapons, but that also goes for parents who have not noticed what they are doing to their children or also siblings who are involved in armed groups and ask [under-age children] to take away the body of a crime, and worse of all they ruin neighborhoods that are good to live in, when will this end? Hopefully soon! They kill those who do not have anything to do with the conflict.

[…] when it comes to unemployment or lack of education for young people they look for other options to get out of the routine in which they were and try new things, easy things to survive in a world that is full of corruption.

Jaider Ochoa makes a positive comment about Hiperbarrio in the collective blog Revolución Esperanza [es]:

La idea de recuperar la memoria social y cultural de los barrios, de destacar esas cosas buenas con las que se cuenta, pero que se ven opacadas por el despliegue mediático sobre la violencia, permiten ver que estas comunidades no sólo tienen delincuentes, sino que también hay quien pueda decir que en ellas hay un sinfín de rasgos, personajes, tradiciones y actividades que hacen la diferencia y que permiten conocerla como un lugar donde también se puede habitar en condiciones dignas.

The idea of restoring the social and cultural memory of the neighborhoods, of highlighting these good things that are available, but are overshadowed by the media hype about violence, allow us to see that these communities are not full of criminals, but that you can also say there are endless features, people, traditions and activities that make the difference and allow us to see it as a place where you can also live in decent conditions.

Finally, Henry Osorio at the Funacrate collectibe blog, raises some questions after narrating an event [es] experienced by an acquaintance called Manuel.

Pasaban los minutos, Manuel seguía observando desde la terraza y vio a un miembro del Ejército, como alienaba con su fusil a un señor que se trepaba por otra terraza de la vecindad, cuando el primero tuvo la oportunidad le disparó casi botándole el brazo. Después que Manuel me narró su versión, quedé con una cantidad de interrogantes que me hacen reflexionar sobre la situación violenta en algunos sectores de la ciudad y la intervención de la Fuerza Pública en las comunidades.

¿Cuál es el tipo de intervención que debe hacer la Fuerza Pública cuando suceden estos hechos? […] ¿Cuál es el tipo de confianza que brinda la Fuerza Pública cuando interviene las comunidades afectando algunos habitantes de estos barrios? ¿Las personas que corren en busca de refugio ante estos hechos acaso son delincuentes?

The minutes passed, Manuel was watching from the terrace and saw a member of the Army, how he alienated with his gun a man who climbed another terrace in the vicinity, when the former had a chance he shot him almost busting his arm. After Manuel told me his story, I was left with a lot of questions that make me think about the violent situation in some parts of the city and the intervention of the Public Forces [the Military and Police] in the communities.

What is the type of intervention the Public Force should have when these things happen? […] What type of confidence does the Public Force bring when it interpheres in communities, affecting some inhabitants of these neighbohoods? Are the people looking for refuge in these events deliquents?

Translated by Silvia Viñas.

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