The Moral Chasm between the US and Colombia

Edited by Anita Dixon

Many are still in shock over the events that took place in Boston: three dead, more than 13 severely injured.

The media reported many wounded, social hysteria ensued, an investigative body had images of the suspects within a couple of days and the president promised that the perpetrators would be punished with the full weight of the law. Most impressively, these words were backed up by actions.

Colombia witnesses events like these, worse even, without our daily lives being affected. Many have already forgotten the bomb in Argelia that killed a youth coming out of college and an old lady who had gone to collect her old-age subsidy as well as destroying many houses. It was little more than a month ago and perhaps you yourself do not remember. The bomb followed the revelation that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was using children and adolescents from Argelia to transport drugs and arms. Could it be that after six detonations in one day or the bomb next to the police station, the bomb no longer held our interest?

Even less likely to hold our attention is what happens in the rural area of Argelia itself, where the FARC is heavily armed, causes explosions and regularly engages in combat with the security forces. Recently, a truck was incinerated and two youths were able to escape who then went to take food to police units in El Mango. The young operative sought to ridicule the prohibition enforced by FARC which stipulates that nobody may sell or offer gifts of food to police officers. Why bother to remember the truck if a few helicopters were just recently attacked in the same manner? How can these two youths’ lives matter if nobody is perturbed by the assassination of two local merchants who were going to sell food to the police? And who cares about those two youths when there are now so many dead that they only appear as statistics? As for police hunger, it does not even figure in the statistics.

This is just one municipality in the first four months of 2013.

The United States’ political system places great value on the peace and safety of its citizens. To this end, they transfer wars they want to or have to fight to foreign territory. To satisfy the war on drugs, they divert resources so that countries like Colombia go to war, suffer many deaths and face confrontation with the mafia. When the terrorism of al-Qaida threatened to destabilize the peace of the nation, the U.S. decided to shift the war to Arab territory. It is possible that more Americans died abroad than would have in subsequent terrorist attacks on the United States, but when the war was taken to Iraq, national peace of mind remained untouched. People continued to live their lives.

In Colombia, we criticize the gringo method and we see its immorality, yet we do not notice our own. We Colombians have become hardened, and we no longer see what is happening around us. The victims who desire justice are told that they are jeopardizing peace, political representation is offered to terrorists and the public prosecutors maintain that there are no crimes against humanity because there are no convictions. Maybe we are so blind that the drama and fear in the streets of the United States seems ridiculous. Or maybe the Boston bomb impacts us, too, allowing us to see our own misery.

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