[translation] One more day

Xady brings us a story straight from La Loma's violent history. Where paramilitary groups are just as likely to stop what they are doing for a quick game of soccer, than to shoot over your head at their targets:

Son, wake up, it´s 5:20 a.m. if you don't you'll be late today….

-Mom, five more minutes…

No, get up now!

Ouch.. the water is really cold, but what gives, the cold will be gone in a bit now that I have to receive physical education classes.

Move it! God Bless you, take care and if things get rough you call me from school and keep me updated….. Yes Ma'am, love you, bye.

It was a cool and fresh morning, the sounds of nature could be heard everywhere, it was beautiful to hear the birds sing, the sound of the crickets, the air that was breathed in was so, so, so… strange.

Good morning, please take out your Natural Science notebooks and could someone please do me the favor and read the last topic we talked about the last class.

We have natural sciences the first 2 hours of the day, then a break so that later on we received Physical education and sports, that one was the one I liked the most, because I like to know about all sports.

When the teacher came into the room he called the roll and following he gave us the best possible news for us… You have free sport today! That meant that we could play any sport we liked.

We stood in line to walk to the sports field in which we played sports and played mini-soccer. In a few minutes we already had players for each team. After a bit of playing, one of the guys looked to the left of the field (where a little road connected the fields with the houses surrounding the school) and with him all of us turned our heads to see what he was looking at… we hadn't looked for 3 seconds when down that path 7 paramilitary members (paracos) armed to the teeth appeared. I remember that the one in front carried a shotgun, grenades and a gun on his back…

Hey kids! How you doing?

-fine thanks, and you- we all answered with out of breath voices.

-well for the meantime, thanks to God – they answered.

Can we play with you? At that moment we all looked at each other and didn't know what to say, when one of our classmates said yes.

Four of them dropped their weapons and started playing with us, we couldn't even concentrate on what we were doing, we didn't know what could happen if their enemies surrounded us, quite possibly we would die.

After approximately 15 minutes of game, one of those who weren't playing whistled, they looked and immediately picked up their weapons, put on their shirts and thanked us;

-You, yes you, tell the principal to send you guys home because in half an hour this will heat up… move it!

I arrived at the Principal's office with my heart in one hand and commented what had happened. He didn't wait and told everyone over the P.A to leave immediately, in a calm and orderly fashion.

I always hung out with my best friends, Shory and Kid, we had been studying together since pre-kinder in the same classroom, one next to the other for everything.

When more or less 3 or 4 blocks were left to get to our homes, we heard something that sounded like firecrackers (they did this to scare the enemy) we reassured ourselves and continued walking. Five steps later a burst of bullets were let loose and immediately we ran as fast as our legs would let us, the bullets wheezed over us, we felt the shrapnel hit our backpacks as we ran, leaves fell from the sky with round holes in their centers… Tired of running we stopped a block away, suddenly a neighbor looked out the window and yelled at us “Do you want to get yourselves killed or what! Run to your homes! It took longer for her to finish saying that before the shooting started once again, each one of us ran into our homes…

Mom, I love you- was the first thing I said – Lets hide because they are just in front of our house…

One more day alive! Thank you God for this day…

[translation] As long as we are on TV

Yesterday, HiperBarrio project appeared on a national Television show called “Camino al Barrio”, or road to the Barrio. That same morning, a landslide swept away homes and lives in a neighboring community.

Akenaton was incensed at the attitudes of the people in his community in the face of recent events. Community leaders included, when they had to choose between assisting victims of that morning's deadly landslides in the El Socorro neighborhood or appearing on Television, guess what was their choice. He writes:

I'm not taking to the task of telling you what happened yesterday May 31st in the area of San Pedro here in La Loma; that will be done by others, some more sensationalist, other more objective, alas.

The thing is that death and tragedy, in the form of mud, went on a little tour around La Loma, and in their travels they stumbled on the neighboring barrio of “El Socorro”.

The event coincided with the coming to our hamlet of the show “Road to the Barrios” of Telemedellín, which was precisely coming up here to talk about disasters in this winter season. [Ed. note: winter in the tropics means rainy season]

That event seemed to eclipse all the attention of the La Loma community.

“What gives if several people in San Pedro drowned in yellow mudslides. Telemedellín is coming, lets head over there and see if we appear in TV.”

The community leaders, who should've been at the catastrophe's site, planning on what will be done with the homeless, the dead, and with the terrified community; preferred to go to the church area to spread the fetid smells from their lying mouths over the black foam covered microphones of the “Camino al Barrio” program, talking about projects, dreams, past and future. What about the present!

Who cares about the Paniagua band in comparison with this colossal tragedy?

Who cares about the “sainete”, the music and the theatre… WHO ON EARTH!

I am an artist, but I would never put talking about art in front of taking care of lives and lamenting deaths.

In the program, they only made a glancing mention to the tragedy. Only Beatriz Paniagua (great woman) tried in her interventions to make the event recurrent, but the incompetent program presenters (since my dog would be a better presenter than them) immediately veered off the subject.

There were some, who with all enthusiasm, saw in the tragedy an opportunity to become populars, and they went immediately with their photographic cameras to register the tragedy, to later show it like some animal in a circus.

Damn those pictures!

Although some of those who went off to take pictures are esteemed friends, I will not cease to reproach them their coldness. A tragedy is not an opportunity to be recognized.

Who cares who publishes the tragedy! Tragedy is tragedy, instead of showing and exposing it we should start thinking how to help!

Although this post will not provide options to help, neither will the pictures. Next time you want to invite me to something, let it be to help, not photograph death to later show it to inspire false pity.

If our neighboring brothers die, if they stay without a home, if La Loma falls to pieces, if we worry more about a stupid show hardly anyone watches or to take pictures of the dead in the most miserable way, we don't deserve the title of civic people, of well meaning citizens, of human beings.

And if this post turns out to be insulting or aggressive, So be it! That's the intention. To see if people wake up from this sharp lethargy that has them thinking only of the possibility of being famous or popular, exposing tragedies or appearing on television.

I can't help but feel invaded by deep indignation faced with these people and what they do. Faced with inefficient leaders and useless commiseration.

[Translation] Reality at the University

Catalina Restrepo was in class when the University of Antioquia was shaken by small explosions when disturbances and riots started last May 9th. Following, she tells her tale.

Well, I was going to post a while back but I hadn't found anything relevant that deserved to be written…

Today I'm back here again, trying to make words portray the fear that I felt yesterday while I was in the middle of a riot between the police and some university students.

I was in the Theory of Social Sciences class. The teacher had arrived at about 9:00 am and was somewhat angry because no-one was answering his questions, making it evident that very few of us had read the document we had as homework from the previous class.

It was close to 11:20 when several explosions were heard. The class continued and the teacher insisted that we should concentrate.

From one momento to the next, the explosions were closer together and people were leaving their class rooms looking for safer places, since the building where I am usually found is one of the most affected when events of this magnitude take place suddenly.

I had already come down from the third floor, but I remembered I had to deliver an assignment and I had to go back and get to the last floor to find the teacher's office… Quite scared, obviously.

After handing in the paper, the classmates I was with decided we should seek the University entrance that is closer to the Metro Station; but there were so many people that were coming out like opened flood gates from every single imaginable place, that we decided instead to sit down somewhere we could feel safe.

We hadn't been sitting even five minutes, when we saw up close some hooded and masked men and we even thought that they might be coming towards us. They moved on and some meters beyond they exploded something that made a very big noise.

Facing the prescence of these people, the people who minutes earlier had been conglomerated around an ATM machine looking at who knows what, left terrified; just like my classmates and myself at that moment, who seeing that those who were facing off with the police were so close, we quickly found a way to get out of the University.

Once I was outside, fear started invading me, the heat was terrible and a pounding headache wouldn't let me be. The bit of [tear] gas that I had to stand managed to affect me greatly…

Facing events like these I don't dare to take sides; but I will say that weapons used to make people feel stronger and braver are not the way to solve the problems for which they decide to fight.

After it all ended, the only thing left was anxiety. As far as I saw, nothing changed. The country didn't stop having internal refugees and the people who are unemployed, hungry and homeless are still the same ones.

I would like for someone to tell me what change took place yesterday among pipe bombs, firecrackers, stones and paint; because to tell you the truth, I didn´t see any.

[translation] An excuse to get together

Gabriel Jaime Venegas, Argos, has been the glue to hold HiperBarrio in La Loma together. He is mentor, teacher, support and promoter of the project and each and every one of the individuals that calls themselves ConVerGentes in the community. This past week they got together, and I´m translating his tale:

Since the middle of last year, when we started on the road to this thing called Blogs along with Álvaro Ramírez and since the story of Suso made us start working as construction workers building his house, we hadn't had a break.


HiperBarrio La Loma together

Since “every saint has his day” and thanks to the Asociation of Community Mothers Loma Hermosa, we managed to make saturday night the night to get together, watch a movie and share a barbecue.

At fibe people arrived to help prep everything and install equipment, then we saw the movie Freedom Writers and finally we ate, we saw the pictures we've been taking and we listened to a bit of music.

We missed all of those who couldn't be with us because of their obligations or because they are outside the country: Yesenia Corrales, Milton Araque, Isabel Guarin, Alejandra Medina, Alfedo Marulanda, David Sasaki, Álvaro Ramírez, among others who slip my mind.

Thanks to everyone for being there!

HiperBarrio in Medelink 2008

Translation of post by Jorge Montoya on hiperbarrio.org [ES]

CatiRestrepo Hablando del proyectoOnMarch 7th and 8th the Digital Culture  Festival in Medellín took place, Medelink 2008 [ES] . We were there representing our project. The main objective we drew for our presence there was to bring more people into our project of sharing knowledge with as many people as possible.

Two whole days standing behind a table, where some participants from previous workshops talked about their experiences and motivated others to join our network. AS a result, we know have a database where we have collected  a good number of people willing to be either facilitators or give workshops, and others who are interested in taking the workshops themselves and help the hiperbarrio family grow.

We also met with people belonging to local innitiatives who expressed the desire to join this project which bit by bit has stopped belonging to us and know belongs to everyone. We already have scheduled appointments with these organizations to see how we can work with their needs and what will be the steps to follow.

After this event, we are left with a positive balance regarding expectations and achievements. We need to look towards the future which will surely also bring great satisfaction to those of us who believe that we are doing useful, worthy and worthwhile work.

To each and everyone who has expressed their support, to those who volunteered, to those who are waiting to be a part of this process, to the Medelink organizers and the HiperBarrio team who were those two days telling their stories in person: Thanks!


More about the event:

Hiperbarrio: Community comes together for a local personality

At la Loma, the hiperbarrio team has taken it to help out their community member, Manuel Salvador Pizarro Sierra  better known as Suso.

 First, for a bit of background, we have the feature story written on the Rising Voices blog by David Sasaki:

In San Javier La Loma, a hillside working class community on the outskirts of Medellín, one of the most well-known local celebrities, “Filthy Suso”, had, until recently, also been one of the most enigmatic. Thanks to the work of HiperBarrio, a citizen journalism outreach project of Rising Voices, the story of “Filthy Suso” is now known both locally and internationally. Led by Yuliana Isabel Paniagua Cano, Catalina Restrepo Martínez, and Gabriel Jaime Venegas, the collective of new citizen journalists created both a video and article about “Filthy Suso’, La Loma’s local collector of recyclables. Below are both the video and text, translated from the original Spanish versions. It is worth noting that HiperBarrio’s article on Suso was also published on the front page of the weekly local newspaper, Conexion.

You can read the fully translated article on the Rising Voices blog. The following video was made by the Hiperbarrio participants to document Suso´s history and was subtitled through dot.sub:

Gabriel Jaime writes about a fund raiser which took place last week in their community, trying to gather enough cash to build Suso a deserving home:

Se ha logrado cambiar la imagen empobrecida y miope que se tenia de Manuel Salvador Pizarro por una de reconocimiento, respeto, dignidad y gratitud que merece; al tiempo que se encuentran nuevas significaciones del papel de su familia y el suyo propio en la historia local.

Esta vereda unida por una causa, nos ayuda entender el valor que ha tenido el trabajo comunitario en la construcción del destino de nuestros pueblos.

El día que Suso nos falte, no se ira al olvido, quedara grabado en el imaginario de miles de personas que lo conocen, no solo en su comunidad sino en el mundo entero gracias al Internet, la prensa escrita y al voz a voz que ya convirtió esta historia en el mito de “El Suso”.

Lo más importante de este proceso es que comienza a regenerar el tejido social roto por la violencia que tantos estragos provoca, aun hoy, en la existencia de las personas que habitan esta vereda y que solo sueñan con vivir en paz al lado de su familia y las personas que aman.

We have managed to change the poor and miopic image that people had of Manuel Salvador Pizarro for one of recognition, respect, dignity and well deserved gratitude; at the same time that new meanings are being found of the role his family and himself have played on the local history.

This bourrough which came together for a cause, helped us understand the value that community work has had on the construction of our people's destiny.

The day Suso is no longer with us, he won't be forgotten. He'll be branded on the minds of thousands of people who know of him, not only in his community but throughout the world thanks to Internet, written press and word of mouth which made this story the “Suso” myth.

The most important aspect of this process is that the broken social makeup of our people, damanged by violence which causes so much pain, is being mended. People who'se only desire is to live in peace with their families and the people they love.

Carmen Elena Paniagua, better known for her online nickname of Camela, wrote a beautiful poem in her blog Baúl de Letras in honor of Suso, recording the day his old home was demolished to make room for the new one;


Por última vez el viento silbará entre lal tapias;

los muros centenarios y leales morirán con sus secretos.

La historia, reducida a meras partículas de polvo, solo quedará grabada en la memoria cansada de un viejo.

Con cada golpe de la almádena, su corazón se estremecerá y evocará un recuerdo; una añoranza de pantalones cortos, de pies descalzos, de bigotes de leche y cocechas de café.

Su mirada parcial, se detendrá dulcemente en un éxode de cucarachas; y de las ruinas rescatará las antiguas llaves de la casa y las guardará en su bolsillo, tal vez para abrir la puerta del pasado en una noche de reminiscencias.

Ya no las paredes desatarán su coloquio en las noches, fidedignos relatos que en el espesor del barro se escondían de la luz del día;

ya no los bacanales de extrovertidos fantasmas;

ya no los abrazos íntimos con la soledad;

ya no las anotaciones que a falta de papel, se esculpían en los muros terrosos.

Ahora solo hay escombros; una vida regada por los suelos; los pedazos de una existencia, que se rompe al final de una honda caída.


For the last time, the wind will blow between the walls,

those centenary and loyal walls will die with their secrets.

History, reduced to mere dust particles, will only remain recorded in the tired memory of an old man.

With each strike of the sledgehammer, his heart will shiver and a memory will come up; yearnings for short pants, bare feet, milk moustaches and coffee picking.

His partial sight will sweetly stop on the cockroach exodus; from the ruins he'll rescue the old keys to his house and will put them in his pocket, perhaps to open a door into the past on a night full of memories.

No more shall the walls untie their evening conversations, faithful stories that hide within the thick mud walls during the daytime;

No more shall the extrovert ghostly parties take place;

No more the intimate hugs with solitude;

no more the note taking that due to a lack of paper were sculpted on the dirt walls.

Now there is only rubble; a life scattered on the ground; pieces of someone's existence bronken at the end of a long fall.

A video taken by David Sasaki when he met Suso can be found on his blog as well.

January has been a busy month for Hiperbarrio

After the wonderful presentation up at la Loma de San Javier, many of the blog posts that the participants wrote were included in Equinoxio magazine, and David Sasaki also wrote about it, giving his firsthand account of what it was like to share the day with the people from La Loma, both participants, family and other community members. You can read that article by following this link.

This community presentation also opened other doors: la Redecom, the alternative media network has approached us and they´re interested in working with us to jumpstart the network and give the members proper citizen media training and a better online presence.

Participantes del taller en la Biblioteca Pública Piloto

Learning how to use flickr during the BPP workshop.

This week, David Sasaki, Director of Outreach for Global Voices, and the person behind Rising Voices, has been giving a couple of workshops in the Pilot Public Library. The first one, yesterday, had to do with opening a flickr account and uploading pictures, as well as joining groups, and David created one specifically for the workshop, adding notes, placing pictures on a map and commenting on other pictures. Today´s workshop will be a continuation of yesterday´s, where participants will learn how to edit pictures with picnik.Next week, we have two important meetings: on one with we will also meet with Medellín Digital, a government effort to improve computer literacy and to check out if we can participate in their annual fair in February, the other one is with Medelink, who organizes a yearly digital culture festival during March, and in which we hope to participate.

Hiperbarrio is growing, and it´s great to see how far we´ve come.

Closing Ceremony for Hiperbarrio 2007

On December 18th 2007, our Hiperbarrio closing ceremony took place. We got together at the auditorium in the Library Park Presbítero José Luis Arroyave in San Javier. Gathered were both teams of coordinators from the two Hiperbarrio proyects in the city of Medellín: the one in La Loma de San Javier and the ones in Santo Domingo.

The Library Network, who arranged for us to have the auditorium and the VideoBeam were present, and Dr. Piedad Aguilar, who directs the Library Network spoke at the beginning of the event to show her admiration for the work that has been done. David Sasaki, one of our biggest fans, who also happens to be Director of Outreach for Rising Voices, the organization that fathered our project and supports us through a micro-grant was also present. Global Voices author Eduardo Ávila, who runs the Voces Bolivianas Rising Voices project in Bolivia was also present.

We had slideshow presentations with pictures that the participants took as well as videos and multimedia presentations of the work that was done during the whole process of new media technology training.

As the evening progressed, both participants and organizers started talking about the project, their experiences, and the steps that should be taken into the future, speaking out about weaknesses in the projects and dreaming about what we would like to see in the future. The main problems mentioned were technical issues like internet connection speed and the lack of a stable connection when we work. Some participants who went to the Santo Domingo workshops from afar mentioned transportation costs as one of the problems.
Milthon from La Loma and Alejandra from Santo Domingo
Milthon, a La Loma participant who writes in his blog Helelbensahar, as Akenaton, presented us with an entertaining clown sketch. In the picture, he can be seen joking around with Alejandra. After that we all had some refreshments and milled around, later moving the casual conversations outside to continue talking after the library closed.

Edit: Please view our Hiperbarrio.org article in Spanish, with different pictures of the event, kindly taken by David Sasaki.

At La Loma: VideoBarrio and ConVerGentes

Alfredo Marulanda tells us what has been going on at La Loma de San Javier:

The last workshop given was on editing, formats and narrative resources; I´m worried about the little productivity of the group, we have established that during these days they would begin formulating or establishing projects. On Saturday October 6th I´ll go back to La Loma to work with the group of ConVerGentes (with whom we worked last Saturday as well), specifically about the production of documentaries, there is a very interesting project which requires much attention, Videobarrio will also be at this workshop, I would like very much for the Videobarrio participants to integrate themselves a bit more with convergentes since they have good projects and I think that between the two of them great work can get done.

Next week I´ll be informing you ow what we saw in the workshop and of what we talked regarding the projects to take on.