28 December 2021. The Spectator
Last column of 2021. This year, five million people died in the world on account of COVID-19, not including the suicidal who were not infected by the virus, but collapsed from isolation, hunger or abuse; not including the elderly who died of loneliness; the heart attack victims who arrived late; the chronically untracked. They are not included, but they add up, or rather, they subtract families and happiness.
We do not know how many of these deaths would have been avoided if those walking time bombs that antivaccinationists have become had come to their senses. Perhaps not legally, but morally, not vaccinating is like going out on the street with a loaded shotgun, without a safety catch and your finger on the trigger.
Last column of 2021. In Colombia, the virus of violence is once again at work. Retail and wholesale violence. Street, rural, organised and indiscriminate violence. Violence due to wickedness, ignorance, pacts with the devil in power, incompetence and even fears packaged in cellophane lies.
Violence against young people who dared to protest and against the elderly who denounced the outrage; violence against children, peasants, women, Afro and indigenous people; violence against memory and victims, who are literally re-victimised shot by shot by public or private mafias; violence against social leaders and against ex-combatants who had the courage to lay down their arms and the courage to try for peace: 90 massacres. That is what they are called: ma-sa-cres, not collective homicides, nor stray bullets, nor shots fired in the air in indigenous cabildos or in villages with poetic names and lives on edge. More than 5,000 deaths by homicide in the first half of the year; 7% were feminicides. Nearly 80% of murders of journalists go unpunished, and in the different departments of Colombia the overall impunity rate ranges from “high” to “very high”.
Last column of 2021 and it is 28 December. Between myth and truth, it is said that around this time Herod had children under the age of two killed; in Spain and Latin America this day is commemorated. I don’t know how something so tragic mutated into a date with a licence to mock children and gullible adults. I admire a thoughtful sense of humour, but this has nothing to do with it. And I don’t understand why a country so full of accumulated guilt celebrates an April Fool’s Day. Beyond school, very few would deserve to be part of the celebration. Let’s accept that almost all of us are responsible for many things: by action or omission, by indolence or scepticism, by not smearing our hands with reality and not wanting to look at life beyond our bubble, by accommodating ourselves to privilege no matter what that means in the wear and tear and suffering of those who make up the base of the iceberg.
Last column of 2021 and I hope to write a victory report in 12 months’ time: a column that tells how in March 2022 the country remembered what democracy means and took a turn towards respect for human rights and peace building; how the times of barbaric nations began to change, because Colombia voted without fear and with ethical intelligence. I would like to tell in 12 months how the reconstruction of memory helped us – at last – to respect the respectable and not trip over the same stone 100 times.
At the end of the column I read that Desmond Tutu has travelled to eternity. Infinite peace to the great little man of ubuntu, the one who made forgiveness possible and therefore will never die.