Peace in Colombia

art workshop in Colombia
Top image: María Virginia Márquez walking in Sincelejo. Here the Greek representation of peace, the godess Eirene.
Not even a year ago, I gave a talk on peace entitled “The Algorithm of Peace”. In a nutshell, I Googled the words “peace” and “war” and reflected on the resulting images. I arrived to a few interesting conclusions, the most important being that in fact, peace, as we think, is in our minds; it doesn’t exist, it is utopian and furtive. Of course, for my talk, I had to investigate our Western roots. For the Greeks, “Eirene” (peace), has two meanings: the cessation of battles and “a harmonious state of mind as well as a harmonious rulership” (Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art, p. 703).
In the context of Walk the Arts’ first post of 2017, I asked a young Colombian girl 12 years old, María Virginia Márquez, to answer a few questions about Colombia’s peace process that began in November 2012. Surprisingly, the answers were not naïve, innocent, but realistic. It reflects how the notion of peace evolved since the burgeoning of the mass media (c. 1945) and of course, its blooming with the social media (2005). And incredibly, it reflects the Greek definition of peace. Now, María Virginia Márquez. . .


How does it feel to live in a country that is at peace today? Truly, right now, Colombia isn’t fully in peace. It is the end of a long battle between Colombian army and the FARC guerrillas. We still have horrible cases of guerrillas, robbery, killing, raping, kidnapping, and much more. So, I wouldn’t classify Colombia as a country in peace. I do live safely, but in many places in Colombia people still face terrible dangers. We only have to watch the news.

How did you live, or perceive the peace process (in Cuba) as a young girl? Really, I can’t answer this question because I don’t watch the news too often. I get notified by my parents and other people close to me. The only thing I know is that my government, Colombia’s, reunited in Cuba to talk with the guerrilla about the peace process. The conversations lasted several years. Did you know that Cuba is a country that has helped the guerrilla for years?

The Colombian referendum and its rejection to the approval of the peace agreement negotiated between the government and the FARC last October was it a good thing, and why? I think it was a good thing, and this is why. Because we do need peace, and I really want peace. Las FARC shouldn’t be rewarded, they should be punished for the violent crimes they did. They are bad people, they killed thousands of innocent people and they should live out the consequences. Why do I have to face consequences at home when I do not behave, but not them, in their own homeland? They didn’t even apologize, and worst of all, we don’t know when their next attack will be! They could be lying to us, right at our faces, and we don’t even know that. Yes! I do want peace, but they should be punished first! That’s why I think it was good that the “no” won the referendum and that obliged the government to revise the peace agreement and submit it to congress for approval.

What can you do as an instrument of peace? Now and later on. I think that there are many ways that I can help spread peace everywhere. Firstly, I must start in my own person. I must be in peace with myself and then with others by treating everyone the same, respecting every single person regardless of their personalities and beliefs, and by avoiding conflicts and fights. Then, I will be able to carry peace in the Colombian society.

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