In elections that are not mandatory, the former mayor of Bogotá and Francia Márquez, the vice-presidential candidate, black (as she defines herself), environmental activist, human rights defender and feminist, won by a very narrow margin over a character who, if he were not dramatically unpresentable, could be called eccentric.
Rodolfo Hernández, Petro’s opponent, is a billionaire, immoral enough to confuse Albert Einstein with Adolf Hitler. That was the right-wing candidate in Colombia who defined himself as anti-system, an out-sider, a follower of conservative policies.
But Colombia is also excess, the beauty of excessive bodies, the versatile color of a fiery tropics that is capable of generating a literature like that of Gabriel García Márquez and his Macondo. In this framework, characters such as General Aureliano Buendía emerged, who before the firing squad remembers when his father took him to discover ice, in “One Hundred Years of Solitude”; or the eternal and omnipresent dictator of “The Autumn of the Patriarch”; or that colonel who, as if waiting for Godot, awaits retirement in “The colonel has no one to write to him”; or even “Chronicle of a Death Foretold”, in which García Márquez manages to maintain the suspense and the quality of the story despite the fact that its outcome is anticipated from the start.
That “huge reality” is the engine for García Márquez, who in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in 1982 (which in itself is an extraordinary exercise in literature), enumerates history since the Conquest, recounting real events, imaginary monstrosities, nonsense ghostly concretized, horrifying and deadly havoc, scattered throughout Hispanic America. He says in that piece: “Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all the creatures of that outrageous reality have had to ask very little of the imagination, because the greatest challenge for us has been the insufficiency of conventional resources to make our lives believable.
In my adolescence I had read “María” by Jorge Isaacs from Cali, with its deep romantic, Manichaean and sweetened content, very typical of the 19th century, becoming the first Colombian author I read. A book that is a reference of that time but that is far from the sensual and exuberant kaleidoscope with which García Márquez describes the Colombia of the 20th century, with a subjugated, superstitious, time-delayed, socially unjust and dominated people.
Cartagena de Indias is a walled city bathed by the Caribbean Sea. It was the city in which García Márquez decided to live when he returned to his native country, after long years of residence in Mexico. In that place, the young writer Margarita García Robayo, author of the book “The sound of the waves”, was also born.
The work includes three short novels that had been published independently: “Until a hurricane passes”, “What I did not learn” and “Sexual education”. The author approaches women or girls, locked in a reality that suffocates them. In her first book, the protagonist yearns to escape from her town without achieving her intended liberation. In the second, a family story involves generations that are related to the tension of unresolved wounds, and in the last, the adolescence of a young woman, her needs, ambitions and adventures take center stage, but within the framework of a school in the Opus Dei. All with the sea as shelter and destination, as a framework and platform for the journey.
As the author rightly says: “The good and the bad of living in front of the sea is exactly the same: that the world ends on the horizon, that is, the world never ends”.
The rebellion, the questioning, the challenge are attitudes that women carry out coveting a life that they do not have and that they glimpse far away. She maintains the author’s plot line with careful prose, with phrases that are harmonious, heartfelt and musical in a framework that does not avoid the controversies that the characters wield.
Colombia appears as a backdrop in which it seems that nothing changes. Women are still condemned to remain, uncomfortable and stable, while society is the same as always.
We hope that, with the impetus of the new administration, the rise of the marginalized and oppressed sectors, the necessary leveling of resources, the admission of women’s rights and the expectation of a changed reality, Colombia begins to be another.
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Colombia, between fantastic imagination and real injustice