I’m here in a small town only reachable by gravel roads after winding and winding around the Colombia mountainside to meet and collect the stories of the people who are making reconciliation happen. This town, people tell me, was unwalkable at night just 5 years ago and has been transformed. Heavy military operations in 2003 cleared guerrilla forces from the area, leaving this municipio to improve in security each year. I’ve been greated with the utmost openness as is customary I’ve found here in Colombia. I even met the mayor of this town of 6,000 (down from 12,000 when the violence occured in the early 2000s) (the mayor is now seated in front of me at this internet cafe. Having heard all the stories about how you could hardly speak in your house without being spied on by rebel forces let alone play in the street just 5 years ago, I’m impressed and surprised to see what seems to be the entire child and adolescent population of San Francisco out and about at 8:30pm on a Monday night. What transformation! My interviews with victims and excombatants tomorrow will help me delve into how this transformation occured (and continues to occur) and deepen my understanding of what reconciliation means from both sides of the conflict. I hope my Spanish can stand up to emotional stories which don’t slow down for gringa comprehension AND I hope I can articulate my emotions in an appropriate manner. My fears are sounding like a child, insincere, naive or just plain dumb. These previous 8 weeks have been great practice, and I will say I sort of felt like myself speaking in Spanish today. Progress!
Posted By Lindsey Crifasi
Posted Aug 10th, 2009