Just what have the international press been saying about Colombia from afar? Apparently they’ve picked up on eco-warriors, sunken treasure, spray drones and ‘crocodile cannibal zombies’, so plenty to get your teeth into.
Top of our list this month (May 2018) is news of the Goldman Environmental Prize – also known as the ‘environmental Nobel’ – awarded to anti-mining activist and Afro-Colombian Cauqueña Francia Marquez, and reported in many world media outlets, including CNN and the UK’s Guardian. The remarkable achievements of Marquez in facing down armed groups, illegal miners, and numerous death threats are well detailed on the Environmental News Wire website.
Also on the eco front, august Science magazine looks at the rush by scientists to get magnifying glasses on the ground in vast areas of the country now suddenly accessible, such as previously conflict-ridden Urabá which exploring geologists excitedly describe (with no hint of irony) as a ‘blank slate’
Angling another spin-off from the peace process, science journal Nature is posting a fascinating video ‘Disarming the Mind’ on mental health problems faced by demobilised guerrillas, but also how Colombia is becoming a scientific test bed for new techniques to rehabilitate traumatised combatants into society.
A croc of…
In a slightly less academic article, UK’s Sun newspaper is alerting its readers to ‘Colombia’s crocodile cannibal zombies’, or rather drug users in Medellin supposedly shooting up a home-baked opioid – street name krokodil – ten times more powerful than heroine. So far authorities in the country are denying its presence.
The National Geographic site is hosting a photo essay by Berlin-based photographer Lena Mucha on the off-beat topic of indigenous transsexuals finding shelter on coffee farms in Risaralda. These women suffer stigmatisation – and often expulsion – from their traditional communities but gain work and acceptance in the (appropriately-named) town of Santuario.
Sanctuaries of another kind feature in Vogue, which manages to tick every tropical-island cliché as it touts the luxurious charms of the country’s ‘private to-hire Caribbean islands’ forming part of the Islas de Rosarios archipelago. If you’re craving a dip in the ‘translucent, aquamarine water of these idyllic retreats’, all with ‘exclusive menus by renowned chefs,’ and have a few grand to blow on a weekend away, then check it out.
Staying with travel, Architecture Daily – the ‘world’s most visited architecture site’ – gives us a list of ten Colombian towns ‘every architect must visit’, though apparently only if the architect is into structures four centuries old, as it is suspiciously similar to the other lists of ‘must see’ colonial towns: Barichara, Villa de Leyva, Mompox etc .
‘Heat’ is hot
Showbiz tabloid Variety reports that street-dance thriller Somos Calentura (We Are the Heat) is being picked up for worldwide distribution. A trailer for the gritty movie, filmed with Afro-Colombian performers and 2,000 extras in the troubled Pacific Ocean port of Buenaventura, is already peaking interest on YouTube.
Troubled waters of a treasure-hunting kind are echoing in world news after UNESCO calls on Colombia to refrain from commercially exploiting the 300-year-old wreck of the Spanish galleon San Jose, found close to Cartagena, which is believed to contain a cargo of gold and silver worth US$17 billion. The UN’s cultural body is worried the lust for sunken treasure will wreck the wreck – also a sea grave – while the Spanish government is claiming its share of the booty (previously robbed or slave-mined from Mexico and Peru).
Meanwhile in Brazil, football team Chapecoense is, perhaps unusually, printing the Colombian flag on their football strip. The idea is intended as a gesture of the remarkable bond formed between the neighbouring countries after tragic crash of the Chape chartered plane close to Medellin in 2016, reports Sports Illustrated.
Up in the air are rumours of drones drafted in to the drug war. Unmanned aircraft website ‘We Talk UAV’, laments that pilot-less planes sadly ‘won’t be used for ‘shootouts with drug dealers in glorious slow motion’, but rather for spraying herbicides on coca fields.
And deep in the fields, the BBC of London eventually catches up with the ‘biblio-burros’ in a charming video on the book-bearing donkeys that bring literature to village schools around La Gloria, by the hot Rio Magdalena. Hope they keep an eye out for zombie crocodiles.