Over the past few months in Colombia, conversations have mainly revolved around the presidential elections, the peace talks and the strong exhibition of Colombian athletes in various sports (Cyclist Nario Quintana and the Colombian national team playing in the World Cup). Since we are entering in an important period for the country, we are asking that the Seeders write about the elections and the peace talks in order to understand the ways of thinking and seeing in the communities where they are working and living. In the next few weeks you will be able to read and hear what they are learning from their communities.
It was impossible not to relate the ongoing peace talks with the presidential elections, meanwhile many Colombians were buying their jerseys in support of their national team, making plans with friends and family to watch the game together and expressing pride in being Colombian, thanks to the World Cup games which united the country. Again I say, “Pride in being Colombian”.
When there is talk of politics, the opinions are always fragmented or divided. In regards to politics, we are not united like we are when we put on our Colombian jerseys to watch the national team play in the World Cup. Why is this? We can put the blame on politics and our presidential candidates who slyly sell us alluring campaigns revolving around the issues of peace, development, security, guaranteeing certain important values for some religious sectors and/or groups which work in defense of human rights. What I take from all this is that we are in the midst of a country with diverse values, ideas, and needs.
In the first round of elections here in Colombia, it was alarming that a large percentage of the population didn´t exercise their right to vote, saying “we don´t believe in anything or in anybody anymore”. Of the five presidential candidates, only two remained after the first election for the second round. One of the two remaining candidates was the incumbent president, Juan Santos, who represented the liberal party. The other candidate was Oscar Zuluaga who represented the central democratic movement on the extreme right and was directly supported by Colombia’s ex-president Álvaro Uribe. From this moment on, the news was full of countless accusations, promises, and scandals between the two. The two weeks leading up to the second round of elections were long ones as we waited, unsure what would happen.
On June 14th, one day before the second round of elections, many events took place, some of which may not have even been mentioned in the press while other events the WHOLE world knows about in full detail. In some regions of the country, it was evident that votes were being bought; there were forced civilian detentions for over 30 hours by illegal armed groups, rumors being spread with the intent to get people to change their votes and legal armed groups pressuring people to elect certain candidates. But “strangely” the only talk that people were concern with this day was evident in the color yellow that infiltrated the streets. This was the day our national team played its first World Cup game against Greece. Colombia won its first game 3-0 and interestingly enough, with tears of joy, pride, and gratitude, it was shouted jokingly “PEKERMAN FOR PRESIDENT”, the Argentinian coach of the Colombian national team.
The 15th of July arrived and many of us Colombians visited the polls with a bit of skepticism. Juan Manuel Santos, the incumbent president, won 50.95% of the total votes that day. In spite of their importance, no one spoke any more of the elections from then on; they only spoke of the success of our national soccer team in Brazil. Each game bringing us joy and making us feel united, and days passed where we felt as one, despite the few cases of death due to people’s strong reactions.
After 16 years not qualifying for a World Cup, just qualifying meant a lot and for the first time ever in history, Colombia made it to the fourth round which was reason enough for pride and happiness. The phrase “It’s worth it to dream” was repeated frequently in the streets and for some time we all believed that anything was possible and we were full of hope. However, now that our national team has been eliminated we have to return to reality, realizing that for 15 days our national team held us under anesthesia and for some time we ignored our reality, instead we let happiness take us over.
With the arrival of the 4th of July, and after many speculations about the game versus Colombia and Brazil, after Brazil won it seemed that the dose of anesthesia wore off, leaving us with wonderful memories of our Colombian national soccer team but also turning our attention back to the political reality of our country, where had to once again feel, reflect, live, walk, and continue thinking that “it’s worth it to dream, but not under anesthesia”.