What a nice way to wrap up the year, putting final words on paper. 2013 is all but over. A few more dark wintery days, evening walks amidst the Bogotá Christmas lights with nativity barns glowing on every corner.
Another year passes us by, and one, which for many around the world, ends with so heartbreak and tragedy. From widespread destruction in the Philippines by Super Typhoon Haiyan, to deadly tornadoes bearing down across the U.S Midwest, 2013 has shown us how defenseless we are in the face of extreme weather.
Weather has been driving a lot of the news in recent years, and in Colombia, we were blessed that events were mostly focused on the ground. It was a challenging year for many Colombians, and midsummer marked a breaking point for the country with an aggressive farmers strike which essentially halted food shipments to cities and forced many to think about agrarian issues: such as where our food comes from, and at a volatile time when the cost of living just keeps on rising.
We end the year a little wiser and in tune with a country that faces the monumental task of some kind of peace and reconciliation. The talks between the FARC negotiators and government reach a year’s end in which many Colombians are weary of what was said, and what has been promised, at the negotiating table in Havana.
From reaching agreements on a series of contentious issues such as land reform to the guerrilla’s possible participation in Congress, the initial optimism over potentially ending Colombia’s long-standing civil conflict appears to have tapered-off. The elections next year will prove decisive as to how this nation will forge ahead with the continent’s most radicalized guerrilla force in sealing a deal; even if an agreement reached will be hard to enforce.
President Santos has the moral obligation to find peace for his peoples, and this year, there were no real setbacks in Havana, showing a nation of skeptics that both sides do have plenty to say to each other. This ultimately, is a good thing.
The year presented challenges and opportunities to everyone. Bogotá struggled with a beleaguered Mayor. The garbage pick up got somewhat more timely after a draconian start, but the streets are still nowhere as clean as they once used to be. There was no offensive against crime, nor how to resolve the capital’s chaotic transportation. The capital just stumbled along.
While Bogotá seemed to be governed ‘in absentia’ or ‘by decree’ other cities embraced new found prosperity. Medellín continues to reinvent itself, and Barranquilla’s has earned the reputation of Colombia’s “boom town.” Then Petro ousted from office! In a move which is resonating loudly and gaining momentum in the international press, we have to be alert as to the consequences of such a severe and sudden act by the Inspector General. We are following this breaking news story very carefully.
Bogotá is home, and despite being critical in the pages of The City Paper regarding our quality of life, we have to appreciate where we are, and where we are heading. Our capital is enriched and diverse. From after hours entertainment to elegant orchid shows, there’s a plan for everyone.
This year we wrote alot of Bogotá’s exciting cultural scene, and the New York Times recently qualified our metropolis as one the global art cities to watch; given a write up in the Phaidon book “Art Cities of the Future: 21st-Century Avant-Gardes.”
Then, a flurry of travel articles on Bogotá and travel guides dedicated to Colombia. We seemed to be the darling of editors from Sydney to Tashkent. What they find so appealing in our potholes, I can only guess; but all in all, our government didn’t shut down, our climate was gentle, and despite so many who were crunched by cash, good times were had. So, with these words: Enough said.
As customary (and well into our 5th year), I leave this page with the following words of appreciation: I want to extend a very special thank you to all our advertisers who believed in us and helped drive our visibility this year. You know who you are! Thank you, Bogotá Beer Company (best brewery in the land!), thank you Crepes & Waffles (totally socially-responsible), thank you Andrés Jaramillo (King of good times). Thank you Empresa de Licores de Cundinamarca (we will toast in the New Year with a shot of award-winning Nectar). And to all of you whom I couldn’t mention, a very special thank you from Maria Claudia Peña (Co-founder) and myself.
To our writers and photographers: Get some well-deserved rest and may the words be with you next year. To our readers: Once again thank you for reading us and making The City Paper Colombia’s most reliable source for analysis, opinion and great story telling.