I write this column on the day that Carlos Gaviria – master and philosopher of life, politics and true justice – would have turned 85. He worked, read and taught to try to make the country less unequal, freer from the arrogance of its rulers and the morass of mediocrity with power. But we have not succeeded.

By Gloria Arias Nieto – El Espectador

Montes de María is – once again – taken over by horror and gunfire; the murdered boys are shamed and the hired assassins return to finish them off; in the besieged villages hateful slogans are written on the fur of dogs, on tree trunks and on the walls of the Family Welfare Homes. Once again, the clans and self-defence groups (children of the same aberration) intimidate and kill at will in Chocó, Sucre, Córdoba, Cauca, Bolívar, Antioquia and Putumayo. 89 municipalities taken over by paramilitary action that the state (so violent against the boys on the front line) seems uninterested in stopping. Colombia has been turned upside down for decades and one wonders, three weeks before the elections, who benefits from fear?

Gaviria did not get to see the signing of the Peace Accord, the happiness it brought and the pain when implementation was left in the wrong hands. The most indolent presidency in history is about to come to an end – amidst smokescreens created by who knows who and what for -; the mafia clans are multiplying their tyranny, isolating children, young people and grandparents under the threat of death. While the clans murder peasants and community leaders at point-blank range, the president of cynicism goes around the world lying in perfect English about his “achievements” on peace issues.

Carlos Gaviria is sorely missed… moved to tears by the dilemmas of ethics and the texture of aesthetics. In each story there were bits of the streets of Vienna, neighbourhood bookshops and Mediterranean perfumes, mountains and tangos de arrabal; each look of his was an act of conviction, an invitation to be alive, to drink sip by sip the affection and courage, and to fill ourselves with strength, democracy and freedom.

As I write, it comes to me as a gift from him and from a friend whom I will meet one day, a sentence by Sigmund Freud, of whom Gaviria spoke to me so many times with his eyes lit up: “If suffering really taught lessons, the world would be populated only by wise men. Pain has nothing to teach those who do not find the courage and the FORCE to listen to it”.

It looks like a photograph. We suffered, we did not learn, we became addicted to pain and left the way open for the masters of violence to scare away peace. We lacked the courage that Freud speaks of and we got used to watching the death of others pass by from an egotistical “otherness”; the shot in someone else’s body, the gag on the river bank, fear as the protagonist. This country seems and perishes in a fog, in the sediment of four years of denying reality. This is why an urgent message is circulating, a public letter to the presidential candidates, in which hundreds of Colombians and organisations are calling for a commitment from the next government to human rights, peace and humanitarian measures.

Courage, said Freud. To listen to suffering, not to be trapped in it. We are on the verge of elections and I want to believe that it is still time to overcome the darkness.

The original article can be found here