Cursed with a culture of killing
Carlos Castillo Cardona
We Colombians are a bloodthirsty lot, said Carlos Castillo Cardona. In 2016, our government signed a peace deal with FARC, the leftist guerrillas whose five-decade-long insurgency claimed some 220,000 lives. Yet the violence continues. A systematic purge of left-wing activists and community leaders is now underway. In the past three years, more than 700 have been killed, presumably by right-wing paramilitaries fighting for control of drug routes and wildcat mines. Another 135 former FARC militants have also been picked off. Our culture fuels this slaughter. Instead of trying to change a person’s way of thinking, Colombians would rather reach for the gun. This phenomenon of “destroying by death and not by ideas is the basis of our history,” dating back to the 19th century and our fight for independence from Spain. Since then, we’ve had numerous civil wars and guerrilla conflicts. Even “our mode of teaching is based on punishment, rather than education.” In raising our children, we use “violence as a corrective”—at street markets, you can even buy special rods with which to beat your children. Our leaders should invest in crime prevention but find it easier to enact laws that impose ever greater punishments. Until we overcome this brutal cultural trait, we will never have peace.