Trying to see through a foggy landscape – Museo Nacional, 23rd May 2017, written by Constantino Casasbuenas M.
I wrote most of this text one year ago, but I decided not to circulate it in the blog without having seen what would happen with the Colombia Peace Process.
We have been to the Museo Nacional several times, and the last two happened one year ago. Both were dedicated to how to start the consolidation of the peace process that is happening in Colombia. We attended the Confiar meeting at the Museo Nacional (National Museum) . The organizers celebrated the “Cuentico llamado Confiar” (“Story about Trusting”), and they launched the video “María Tila Uribe – Entre las Brumas del Tiempo”. (María Tila Uribe – Within the Fog of Time). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymqEb1ezhU0
It was great to be there. Thanks to Pilar and her brother Mauricio (we met them in Tunisia in 1993), we visited Tila (Pilar’s mother) and Francisco (her dad) several times in their place in Silvania, Cundinamarca. They visited us in our place in Chía, too. Last time, when we visited them in Silvania, she was leading family tango classes and we were able to listen to her Accordion playing. It was real magic because of the music, because of the dance, and also because of the way they connected us to history and reality of our country.
It became a bit strange to start this gathering at the Museo National, at the time when the Confiar Director indicated that “Confiar” (trusting) was a growing rose at the center of a pigsty”. Perhaps he was telling us that Museo Nacional was the same place where the panóptico(*) (a prison) was built and where the most dangerous people were sent. In 1929, this was the place where Tomás Uribe Márquez (Tila’s dad) was put in stocks – hands and feet – in the dungeon.
In many different ways – through radio, TV, internet, Twitter and Facebook – we keep listening, every day about the corruption and mistrust that we are living in Colombia during the recent years, and our belief is that this is the pigsty that he was referring to. How to see Maria Tila and Confiar within this context? Following the video title “Within the fog of time”, (we were trying to see through our foggy landscape. It was important to see the video explaining Tila’s life experience.
Very far away in the fog, we were able to identify the bananas massacre (end of 1928). According to Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his “100 Years of Solitude”, this was a massacre of workers for the United Fruit Company. Popular oral histories indicated that the killers threw around 3,000 bodies into the sea. Tila’s father (Tomás Uribe Marquez) was an important Socialist leader who was put in jail. At that time he was defended by the young lawyer Jorge Eliécer Gaitan, who would be assassinated on the 9th of April 1948. This was the date when Tia and Francisco met. This was the date that opened the 60-year internal conflict in Colombia, which started to end last year when the Peace Agreement between the government of Colombia and FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) was signed in Havana and in Cartagena. The revolutionary army became a legal political party and is now participating in the legal open political process.
With the fog, it happens like with the clouds. Sometimes it is difficult to see through them! Though it was not that easy to see across the fog, in Tila’s presentation we learned about the symbolic wooden trunk that she had kept for several years. A trunk full of work from those people who created the Socialist Party in Colombia with the name of leaders like Maria Cano, Ignacio Torres Giraldo and … many others! This trunk, filled with Colombian ideals of a fair society became the main reason for Tila to go into jail during 4 years. For several other similar reasons, her sons and daughter would go to prison too.
At a young age, she started to defend human rights, but Tila never imagined that all of this precious work would be called “subversive”. During nights and days, Tila wrote her memories and the analysis of her own experience. One of her full-of-love experience was defending her right for having a good laugh with the people who visited her in prison or with other prisoners. She was writing Colombian history 50 years after it happened, and instead of an unequal and unjust society, she advocated for a peaceful country, defending the common good, giving social meaning to money and wealth. We are at this moment of the fight!
Because of her personal process, we were able to meet her husband Francisco (writing on labor rights and on poetry and literature), and her sons and daughters and cousins working with many expressions of Colombian society in micro and macro solutions. Because of their concrete work when they were young, they went to prison and to exile, but they continued to advocate for the poorest people in Colombia, always thinking about the dominant role that culture has in any society. It is now a wonderful experience to listen to Francisco, Mauricio, Esperanza, and Pilar, telling the story about their parents, how they were (and still are!) politically committed, and enjoying music, painting, poetry, and dancing.
After meeting Tila and her family you discover that their lives have been the reincarnation of the socialist ideals moved one century earlier by Tomás Uribe Márquez. When living the present peace process, we could report an impressive amount of positive results for Colombia. You could feel the new environment of respecting people’s rights brought by the peace process. But this is happening at the moment when deep inequality and poverty continue to exist.
The peace process is now at the center of the political process. Are we ready (richer, a few, poorer most of the people) to contain the dominant economic and political contradictions lived everywhere over Colombia? Are we ready to respect options different than ours? These are perhaps the two most pertinent questions that Colombians will have to respond when voting for president on the 27th of May. I hope that Tila’s music with her accordion will help us to inspire and vote well.
The panoptic as designed by the Danish architect Thomas Reed
National Museum since 1948
Panóptico: According to Wikipedia, “the Panopticon is a type of institutional building and a system of control designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The scheme of the design is to allow all (pan-) inmates of an institution to be observed (-opticon) by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched”.