Monday, July 5, 2010

Desalojo en Soacha

As promised, I have a lot to update you on and a little bit of a history/current reality lesson about Soacha.

Last week, the community of Altos de la Florida in Soacha, Colombia was threatened with a ¨desalojo¨ of the town. Desalojo, which literally means evacuation in english, is when a community is driven out of the land by the police with the support of the government. How is this possible you might ask? Well, the community of Altos isnt exactly legal. Its called an ¨invasión¨ and they are common in the outskirts of Bogotá and other large cities in Colombia. People move in to the land surrounding cities with their families even though they are not the owners of the land. Funny story about Altos though...these families did pay someone for these lots. Unfortunately, no one told them that thewere purchasing land from a ladrón (thief). Once this imposter received enough money to be satisfied, he or she left with all the money and left the people in a situation which is now weighing on the shoulders of heads of families throughout Los Altos. The real owner of the land has since returned and is calling in all the debt. He is asking the families to pay again. Remember that these families cannot always pay for water or food, but now have to pay for the land that they should already own. This was not the first threat of evacuation, and the people have lived with the fear of losing their housing before. A friend of mine here at the Juniorado (where I live) worked with SJR last year and witnessed an evacuation. Apparently they bring in bulldozers to tear the houses down. Of course organizations and lawyers representing the people of Altos are stepping in to fight for the rights of these people, most of whom are in a situation of displacement and would have nowhere else to go. This of course presents a problem which I have mentioned before. The citizens of Altos have the support of many organizations who speak for the people and are not working with them. This has made the people of Altos lazy in regards to their situation of displacement. I do not want to say that the people are lazy. Honestly, many of these people do not have time to think about the future, but must work every day to provide food and water for their families. I was in Altos all last weekend and the day before the supposed evacutation but was told on Monday night that it was not going to take place. It looks like the organizations have bought the barrio a little more time. I don´t know right now if that means a year, a month or a week of peace. There is hope though though that the people will come together for their barrio. Sunday morning, there was a meeting with the community about how they would peacfully resist the evacuation. There were only about 100 people at the meeting out of a few thousand inhabitants, but it shows that there is a growing internal support. I guess its getting more and more real with each threat.

Last weekend, I stayed the night in Altos in order to attend catechesis with the kids of the community. I went with three of my friends from the Juniorado because they were in charge of the catechesis and often go to Soacha on the weekends to hang out with the kids.. It was a lot of fun, and all of the kids were obsessed with borrowing my camera. This of course made me a little nervous, but they got some good shots and nothing broke!

I start my interviews this week and am getting really excited/ nervous about them, so please keep me in your prayers and I will do the same. If youre ever feeling hopeless, which I hope you aren´t, pray to St. Jude. He´s the reason I´m here and why I am doing what I´m doing.

Impossible is nothing. God bless.


Palabra del dia: marica. Originally it was a word to describe a homosexual, but has really lost a lot of that meaning and is used constantly here between friends. Its become a salutation. When I was on the plane coming back from Peru (I went to visit a few family friends this weekend) I knew I was on my way back to Bogotá when I heard ¨¡Oye, marica! ¿Que más??¨ from the guy in the seat behind he wasnt talking to me. Of course, you shouldnt use this word with your boss, your parents or your teachers, but it is a pretty harmless slang word good for friendly use.

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