I have lived in Cartagena for a year and a half, and have heard at least 20 similar stories from students, teachers, friends, taxi drivers… everyone. Kidnappings, public assassinations, being covered with DDT dropped from planes to kill coca fields and everything else, stolen land, fear, panic, trauma, are part of the Colombian history and culture. However, you would never know it. People are still open, generous, loving, fun, and hardworking. Families are united no matter what has happened to them.
I wish more Americans could hear these tragic stories, but feel the warmth of the people. They are plagued by the drug war, corruption, and ruling class that is not too worried about the poor. Yet, they never dwell on the problems or blame the US for its nasty drug habit. They live for their families and think of any possible way to succeed and support them. Their hunger and drive reminds me of the US 100 years ago; a developing nation that never thought of failure, drugs, consumerism, white collar crime, blame, or defeat. America can learn from countries like Colombia and take on the attitude of a re-developing nation, where necessity, ambition, and enterprise will make our nation strong again.