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A Country’s Image to the World also Depends on what its People Say About It. June 28, 2007

Posted by dtenjo in Colombia, Politics.
2 comments

So Copa America has started, the oldest soccer tournament among nations in the world, not a very big deal here in North America, but definitely really important for South Americans. However, it is not Copa America what I am going to talk about here, it is about something that happened while I was watching the game between Mexico and Brazil last night.

There was a gathering of people from many nationalities (all of them Latin American, of course), which included a few Colombians, including myself. There was also another Colombian friend of mine who during the game kept ranting about how terrible Colombian soccer is, how the Colombian team will do terrible in this cup, how when Colombian soccer was good in the past was only because of Drug Money injected into it, and he even went to talk about Colombian politics, and how the current president is part of the paramilitary, how there are several guerrilla groups in the country, and how there is no solution to the conflict in Colombia. Obviously, as a Colombian, all this quite irritated me, as I would much rather focus on the good things about my country, and try to provide a good image of it.

I mean, I wonder how many Colombians there are around the world exposing Colombia like this. When I mentioned to my friend how negative he was being, his answer was to accuse me of not following news, and not knowing the reality as it is. I do follow Colombian news on a daily basis, and I know that some of what he says (not all) may be part of the reality. Nevertheless, as Colombians, I consider it is much more beneficial to focus on the side of reality which shows how great a country Colombia is. It is much better for the country to focus on the good things, and on how things are constantly changing for better.

For example, it is true that recently there have been reports that link some of President Uribe’s political allies in the country’s politics with paramilitary groups. -Not the president, just some of his allies-, and some people are jumping to the conclusion that the president must “be” a part of the paramilitary himself. I am not going to get into an argument about that, although I think this may be a very risky assumption, but the fact also is that since this president has been in office, things have gone much better in Colombia, for example, there has been a steady growth in Colombian Economy in the last few  years; Colombia’s image around the world has changed for better; foreign investment in Colombia is at an all-time high; inside of Colombia, there is government presence in remote areas, where before only illegal groups would dominate; it is clear how Colombia is a more peaceful place than ever before, kidnappings, killings, and all sorts of crimes have dropped. So, my point is, do we want to focus on the fact that some people link some of the president’s friends with paramilitary groups, or would we rather focus on how better things are since he has been governing the country? I would much rather focus on the second one until it is proven on the president that he has some sort of connection with illegal groups.

I t is hard to work to help improve things in Colombia from far away, and Colombians who live abroad ought to provide a good image of Colombia, as the best thing they can do to help the country.  If we concentrate, and talk about the bad things that the country has, we are only making things worse, ruining the hard work that millions of other Colombians are doing  in order to make it a better country day by day.

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Joseph Blatter’s words do harm March 1, 2007

Posted by dtenjo in Colombia, News and politics, Soccer.
1 comment so far

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If FIFA’s purpose is to make to world a better place to live in, its president’s declarations regarding the assignment of the host country for the 2014 World Cup don’t help much.

Colombia is a country that has suffered through a lot of violence and injustice in the last 50 years, and recently it seems like the country has seen much improvement, as far as security and economic development, it could be said it is the best the country has been in the last 20 years. Last year, Colombia’s president decided to bid to be host of the 2014 World Cup, competing with Brazil for it since it has been said that hosting the Wordl Cup that year corresponds to a South American country. Even though it does seem like Brazil would be a much stronger candidate for several reasons, only the idea of making the try to compete for it should be supported by FIFA authorities. The government of Colombia is serious that it will make the biggest effort possible to make Colombia a strong candidate, and has been working for it.

Yesterday, in a series of declarations regarding future world cup assignments, Joseph Blatter, FIFA president, put a big road block to Colombia’s bid. In his declarations, Blatter said that Colombia’s bid is “mora a public relations presentation” to hide Colombia’s real problems, and make Colombia appear on international headlines for things other than violence in the country. Now, I wonder if Blatter knows the extent of his words. I mean, even if this was real, even if the real possibility of Colombia hosting the biggest sporting event in the world is very remote, Blatter should at least support the effort that the country is making, focus more on Colombia’s real improvements, and see what kind of a candidate Colombia can make.

Instead of this, Blatter went even further saying that if Brazil and Colombia don’t make strong candidates, then “we would go north instead as the logical thing”, like if going North was the logical thing these days, especially when there is so much inequality in the world; countries from the “South” need more support instead of disregarding words like those. Furthermore, on top of this, Mr. FIFA president decided to open the possibility for yet another World Cup in the US for 2018. No that I have anything against the US, (actually I do have a few things against some of their actions and policies), but the US is not even a country where soccer is that relevant. Maybe Joseph liked too much all the money that was made there in 1994, and would like to repeat the feat.

It looks like Blatter got up with his Corporate, big-marketing, money-making instinct yesterday morning. His words do more harm than perhaps he realizes, and go against what FIFA proclaims, which is helping to create “Fair Play”, and equality in the world. C’mon, Sepp, if you can’t say anything to help for justice in the world, at least let countries work for it, and keep your mouth shut.

The magic of coffee January 31, 2007

Posted by dtenjo in Coffee, Colombia.
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A friend of Mine wrote this message to me this morning. I just found it really inspiring, and goes to show how simple things in life like a coffee break can be so meaningful…

This is the message:

hi david,

I just wanted to say thanks for the coffee you gave me. i opened it up and made myself an espresso this afternoon, and WOW! it’s the best espresso i had in a long time. it’s is thick and dark, full body flavoured with a hint of a floral aroma…that is distinctly Juan Valdez, and as my mind races to place it, i am sent back to Colombia–reminding me of the time we went for coffee, remember at the really nice cafe, on the day we were in the city, perhaps on our way to the gold museum or to show me the Candelaria and i remember the drinks being really fancy, like in Canada, but nicer, served in a glass…do you remember that day? and so i kept tasting the espresso, savouring every sip, enjoying the memories it brought to mind, including the other time we had coffee under the canopy we tucked into when it started raining that one day we were out, and every sip had such an intense memory associated with it, and it was wonderful…so then i began to experiment, with a piece of chocolate to taste on the side, and i was immediately reminded of coffee breaks from far off places…europe, south america, rich and luxurious…but nowhere near winnipeg, except for my kitchen, now! and then i added milk and made a latte…and i am jsut enjoying that now, reminded of breakfasts in spain, on a patio with a tostada con tomate….well, hopefully you enjoyed this little coffee break i sent you…thanks again for the coffee, i know it’s a real simple thing, but i really appreciate it.

Just brainstorming on a solution to Drug trafficking October 12, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in Colombia, Politics, Society.
4 comments

I was reading an article on a Colombian newspaper about solutions to drug trafficking so that the South American nation stops loosing so much money, lives, and land to the fight against drug trafficking. There is a growing number of people who believe that making drug trafficking legal is a way to stop this problem (lowering prices, making the business not so profitable, etc). Now, there are others (including myself) who just think this wouldn’t be right. I just can’t imagine a world in which you will see people consuming heroine or cocaine on the streets normally like if they were smoking a cigarette, or having a pop soda. Plus, this would send an intrinsic message that doing drugs is OK, while everybody knows that it is not ok, drugs affect humans both physically and psychologically. This in turn affects society.

I was thinking about this, when and idea came to my mind. What about making buying and selling drugs legal, but consuming them illegal? This would be opposite to what the law is in many countries right now, where the illegal part of drugs is buying and selling them, but consuming drugs is not illegal. Think about it. Making drug trading legal would stop the hiper-profitable business, as anyone would be able to sell them. However, poeple wouldn’t be allowed to consume them, at least not in public. They could even make it illegal to be under the influence of drugs on the street, no matter where you actually consumed them, that way making it “not ok” to do drugs.

This is just my idea. I thought it is a good idea during the two minutes that I analyzed it. I wonder how crazy it is, or how much it would work. Who knows…..? but it is pretty interesting. In any case, if it is a good idea, I don’t think I am the first one to think about this. Any comments?

New Juan Valdez, doesn’t look real. June 30, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in Coffee, Colombia, Entertainment, Publicity.
7 comments

With great surprise a couple of months ago I read on a Colombian News paper that JUAN VALDEZ was retiring… Whatttt???? I said to myself…. was this going to be the end of the Colombian icon, the one for which all Colombians feel so proud? THe most widely recognized publicity icon in North America????

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Well, in reality the guy is just a character that is represented by an actor, Carlos Sanchez, who has done it for over 35 years, since JUAN VALDEZ was “born” in like the 60’s or 70’s. As it turns out, Carlos Sanchez, or the one we’ve known as Juan, finally deciuded to retire.

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So, the National Federation of coffee growers of Colombia decided to run some casting to hire a new actor that would represent JuanValez , and Colombian coffee around the world. Not surprisingly, there were thousands of applications received, and today finally one was chosen.

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Unfortunately to me this one doesn’t look real, he looks different from the picture in the logo, and very different from the good old Juan (or Carlos) anyhow, it looks as if Juan had been sick and lost a whole bunch of weight, or something like that..

I wonder now if they are going to “slightly” modify the Logo too? Is conchita (the mule) also going to retire, and a new also skinnier one will replace her????
So, that was my blog of the day. I know there are a lot of things going on around the world to be worrying about how a stupid publicity character looks…. But hey, this is a lighter note, and informative… I bet many of who will read this didn’t know the real name of the actor that represented Juan Valdez…. —Or the new one, who by the way is also called Carlos… His last name is Castañeda, though…