Sometimes editorials are written somewhere in the middle of the month when I have a clear idea of what’s making news at home. But this month, the focus has mostly been overseas with the heavy-handed political “adjustment” in Egypt after the army forced President Mohammed Morsy from office and resulting in violent clashes on the streets of Cairo.
Then we have Edward Snowden still camped out in the transit zone of Moscow’s International airport waiting to have his immediate future defined by a country willing to go out on a limb and offer the fugitive political asylum. The question then, is how to get to a host nation? It was very clear last month that the countries which make up the European Union will not tolerate the NSA whistleblower flying over their airspace.
Such was the embarrassing situation learned by Bolivia’s President Evo Morales when his presidential jet was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Vienna during a flight from Moscow to La Paz, when rumors percolated that the intelligence leaker could be on board. As the plane drama unfolded, many Latin American leaders seized the opportunity to drum up popular support over the humiliation the president of a small nation received while trying to get home from an official trip.
In the charismatic void of the region’s leadership after strong man Chávez’s passed away, Morales is the man of the moment. Bolivia may be a small country hemmed in by high mountains and without access to an ocean, but it’s showing the world that is has political muscle to flex in the Hemisphere and is determined to make an international cause célèbre of the rebuke. Of course, the E.U blunder played straight into the hands the Bolivian leader and he has now stated that he would kindly offer Snowden asylum, should he request it. The next couple of weeks will prove decisive in defining Snowden’s pariah status, as well as Morales’ possible moves to halt Spanish investment in the Andean nation’s rich natural gas fields.
With so much news breaking in the four corners of the world, it’s hard to stay focused on Colombia. July tends to be the time of year when foreigners leave the country to spend summer with friends and family. Even the city tends to loosen up a notch with schools out and people taking advantage of the long weekends to head to their “proverbial fincas.” And there doesn’t seem to be too much attention on the peace talks from Havana, either. The Colombian government’s chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle has stated emphatically that there would be no constitutional amendment as a guarantee for the FARC to hand over their weapons and hence form a political party. The guerrilla’s claims that the 2014 elections should be delayed in order for the talks to continue have fallen on deaf ears. It seems that after the groundbreaking statements to reach a government-FARC accord on land reforms, early enthusiasm is waning and skeptics of the entire process are now gaining momentum.
July is the month Colombians celebrate their independence. Like a host of other nations – Canada, United States, France – Colombians celebrate their national day by joining in street parades, heading over to city parks and town squares to see fire works shuttle into the skies and, of course, a good time for a family meal of Ajiaco.
This month The City Paper decided to give the front cover to a very Colombian aspect of popular culture: cumbia. Having originated on the coast – cumbia – is a very particular music style that includes European wind instruments such as pipe and clarinet, mixed in an ensemble of African-origin percussion. But we decided to go further. Having known for some time of Bomba Estéreo and their growing fan base, we managed to meet up with the founding members of this electronic cumbia band to talk about their music and what comes next after they wrap up a world tour.
The summer is also a generous time of year where we can catch our breath and build upon key aspects of our business: such as expanding the web presence with more stories and consolidating our national distribution. Edition 63 has a wide selection of interesting articles. Some timely, others not so. Thrilled as always in being able to deliver reliable content on Colombia, I’m going to take advantage at this midyear hiatus to thank you all for reading us. As we go forward into the second part of 2013, there’s a lot of hard work ahead. In the meantime, we should enjoy the moment and celebrate our national days. With so many political storms brewing on so many horizons, it’s clear that we have arrived at a good place. So, bring on cumbia and have a happy 20 de Julio everyone.