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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.
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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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Another Event that Proves how Society in the US is Going in the Wrong Direction April 16, 2007

Posted by dtenjo in Politics, Society.
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About six hours after the shooting at Virginia Tech happened, the death toll keeps rising, -it is at about 31 right now, and I am still trying to understand the relevance of this event, which seems to be by far the worst of its class in US history. This day will go down in history as the day when the most people were killed in a US educational institution. The worst part of this is that we are actually hoping it is this way, and we won’t see an even deadlier school shooting in a few weeks.

The question that comes to mind right away is why these things seem to happen only, or at least most frequently in America? Not even Iraq or Afghanistan, which appear to be currently the most troublesome countries right now, get shootings of this kind. I mean, a few months ago in Montreal something similar happened, but keep in mind that Canadian society in spite of the differences with the US, is in many ways similar to the way US society runs.

This is a proof that there definitely is something wrong with US society. And I know I am not inventing an new concept here with this statement, most people agree with the fact that the values under which US society is run are wrong, or at least mishandled by individuals. Seems to me like throughout history Americans focused so much on building what to them would be “the greatest nation in the world”, that they ended up inculcating the wrong values on their people in order to achieve this. And in so many ways they actually achieved both creating a “great” nation, and running a society with mistaken values, and this seems to be what is currently degrading the nation from the inside out I’ve always thought that while America is trying to solve the problems all around the world, going to countries oversees, invading, and trying to control other nations, their own society is getting corrupted on the core, and the American government has overlooked this.

I am talking about things like materialism, individualism, permanent competition to “step” on others if necessary to achieve what you need, the lack of community sense, and many other ideas that people in the newer generations were educated under, which I don’t consider are necessarily all bad, but they become bad when people misinterpret, and mishandle them like Americans in general have.

I hope not to offend anybody with what I just wrote. I have many American friends, and in general they are great people. I still consider that USA is a great nation in many ways, but there are so many other aspects that need to be reconsidered about the way the nation is run. It is clear that social values need to be revisited especially in a country where school shootings seem to be more and more common all the time.

Watch out, Canada. Your reputation is at stake March 15, 2007

Posted by dtenjo in Canada, Environmentalism, Politics, Seal Hunting.
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canadaseal.jpg

Canada, the “nice” peaceful country, liked by most, famous for its “peace” keeping missions all over the world, is risking this reputation of being a nice and peaceful nation due to the very permissive laws on seal hunting. Since last year, the entire world seems to be trying to persuade the Canadian government to set tougher laws on seal hunting, and nowadays, when ecology and the environment seem to be a hot topic in the world, that would make a lot of sense.

However, the Canadian government seems to continue allowing for the hunt of high numbers of harp seals. The main argument is that this activity represents the means of living for many inhabitants of Northeastern Canada including some Inuit groups. It seems obvious that this argument lacks any kind of ground, as it can be compared to arguing that growing coca should be legalized in Andean countries as this represents the most profitable means of living for peasants there. If developing countries like Colombia or Bolivia must find ways to stop this illegal activity, and replace this activity with other economic activities for those peasants, you’d expect that Canada, with one of the most highly developed economies in the world would be able to find alternate ways of survival for people who currently kill seals for profit.

European countries are currently considering banning all kinds of trading of seal skin. This can’t come soon enough; as a matter of fact, if should have already been banned. I mean, what do humans really need to use seal skin for? -Nothing that we won’t survive without. Trading seal skin should be banned, and that way withdraw the main reason people have to massacre innocent seals in many countries, but especially in Canada.

The world is asking for some action, and if Canada does set tough laws against seal hunting, its reputation in the world will be terribly affected. A country that is famous for its strong and liberal democracy, a country that represents one of the best places to live in the world, a country that takes pride on its peacemaking missions should act in favor of the earth and the environment, not in favor of the greed of some of its citizens. (more…)

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?

UN General Assembly… September 21, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in News and politics, Politics.
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Well, this one is shaping up to be a special General Assembly. Not very often will we get to have two opponent leaders in the same city, and even perhaps in the same building, on the same day, but trying to avoid each other, only communicating through indirect messages sent to each other on their speeches.

That was the case yesterday, with US President Bush, and the president of Iran… My question, especially after watching their interviews on CNN at night, is: Which one of them is worse? All I could think while watching the interviews was: I can’t believe these are our world leaders. I mean, both of them seem to be so stubborn, and none of them really answered any question clearly. All that really leaves us all wondering where things will go in the near future.

Then there was Venezuelan President Chavez calling Bush “The Devil”. What, does that guy think this is a circus? Does he have no respect for all the other members of the UN? Chavez is a specialist in these kinds of comments, but the guy yesterday lacked all sorts of tact, and class. The leader of a country should measure his or her words when speaking to the world. We all know he dislikes Bush, and disagrees with America’s policy. Chavez has made this very clear, so there is no necessity to get up there, and waste everyone’s time by making classless jokes calling other people names… but I know this is too much to ask of Chavez.

Anyway, this one has been a pretty interesting UN general assembly. Today we’ll have Colombia’s president, Alvaro Uribe say his speech…. We’ll see what he has to say. He is a friend of Bush, and an undeclared opponent of Chavez, and Iran…. 

The Absurdness of War August 10, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in News and politics, Politics, Society.
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The more I read and look into the current Middle East war, the more I think Israel is not right in what it is doing. I still claim not to know enough about the history of what is going on there, but every time I read something new about the current war, I lean towards the Lebanese side more and more. The reason? Seems to me like Israel is using too much brute force, more than it is necessary. They are killing way more civilians on Lebanese territory than Hezbollah has on Israeli land, and now, the whole thing is starting to look more like an Israeli invasion than anything else. Last I read was that Israeli ground troops are already 30 km inside on Lebanese territory…. If this is not an invasion, then what is it?

A friend of mine pointed this VIDEO out for me, which I find really interesting…

I am not going to say that everything George Galloway claims on this video has to be right, as he seems overly passionate and biased, but maybe there is some truth to what he is saying…

I also heard that Israel might look into the exchange of prisoners to stop the war… The question is: if they end up exchanging prisoners, and stop the current violence, what is going to happen to all the damage done? Who is going to bring back the innocent lives lost? How is Lebanon going to be rebuilt? Is anyone ever going to take responsibility on all that happened in this preposterous war?

Why are all those steel bars displayed there? August 8, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in Life in general, Politics, Society.
2 comments

9/11 Events: So hard to explain, even harder to understand

speace_tower_chapel.jpgI went to the International Peace garden, at the border between the US and Canada, between the province of Manitoba and the state of North Dakota. It is a natural park that has a big botanical garden “devoted to world peace”. The main attraction in the garden are four 120 foot pillars of solid concrete symbolizing people gathering together from the four corners of the world, which stand right on the line that separates the US and Canada the border.

Another one of the things to see in the garden is the 9/11 memorial, which consists of several steel girders that belonged to the actual twin towers of the World Trade Center. To us, those who lived through that horrific day those fallen pieces of steel and concrete represent too much, and bring back feelings of sadness, rage, perhaps frustration for not being able to understand such events. As I walked through them, I couldn’t help but feel sad, and internalize the importance of such event that shifted the course of human history.

To us, those in this generation who lived through that day, and saw almost instantly on TV the images, it will be looked as an event that stopped a period of relative calm and peace in the world, to start a series of wars that today, 5 years later still are inexplicable, have brought no results, created more questions than answers, and have killed thousands of innocent people.

As I was reflecting on that, something happened that called my attention. A girl who was about 6 years old was standing in front of the girders, and asking her dad “Daddy, what happened there?” Such a simple question, which is so hard to answer. The girl obviously didn’t know what happened on September 11, 2001. She probably hadn’t been born yet. However, the events of that day changed the world that she is to live in. Her dad made an attempt at explaining what had happened by saying “Some planes crashed into two huge buildings, and killed many people“. Nice and simple, and perhaps the best way to explain it to a child who does not understand the meaning of global politics, power, poverty, imperialism, religious ideologies, or terrorism. It was such a simple answer to something that perhaps nobody in the world can explain. This made me wonder how future generations will explain this event, as in reality it really changed the way the world is to develop in the post 9/11 era.

Someday I will have to explain to my children what happened that day. It will be hard to explain all that, mainly as I doubt that I will ever fully understand what the heck happened that day.

I Really Wonder what Chavez’s Intentions are August 1, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in Latin America, News and politics, Politics.
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Of all the news stories that I read every day, there are some of them that really make my blood boil, as there are some things that happen in this world that I just plainly don’t understand. The wars going on in the middle east really catch a lot of my attention, and concern, and I could write blogs on those every day, but I don’t as I’ve posted a couple of articles on that, and I want to maintain a variety of topics in this blog.

The latest story that is making me feel full of concern is Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez’s latest eastern tour, including visits to Russia, Belarus, and Iran. After seeing all the things that this guy does and says, I can only wonder what his real intentions are. I think this guy really has dark intentions for Latin America and the world, in allying with some of the countries that right now are creating fear and instability in the world.

Chavez signed a deal to acquire weapons with Russia, which in itself is fine; every country has their own right to defend themselves. However, the amount of weapons that this guy is getting makes me think that he has obscure plans to attack somebody. I really hope I am wrong, but I don’t see any other objective on him being so keen on getting tremendous amounts of weaponry.

After Russia, Chavez went to visit Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus authoritarian president, “Europe’s last dictator”. Now, it is obvious that both of the “presidents” have a lot in common, and this is no surprise to anyone. The way Chavez has been governing Venezuela has been more dictatorial than anything.

Then, the most recent stop in Chavez’s tour is Iran…. What else can be said? Iran is currently urged by the UN to stop their nuclear weapon development, and are said to be supporters of terrorist groups like Hezbollah. Does Chavez want to get involved in all this? Does he want his own share of nuclear responsibility? Is he looking for more ways to be authoritarian? Is he trying to create fear in the Latin American community just like Iran has done with the whole world? Again, I hope the answers to all those questions are “NO”, however, unfortunately the evidence seems to show the opposite.

If Chavez doesn’t like the United States that is fine, as a matter of fact, most people in the world don’t. However, all of his actions are going too far in showing that he is an anti-democratic leader, that his ways are the ways of fear, that he has bigger plans to expand his influence to other countries. Chavez is just helping to create more instability in the world. A lot of the Venezuelan’s I know say this guy is crazy, and I am starting to believe the same thing. For now I can only hope that his intentions are not as obscure as my pessimistic predictions indicate.

Israel throughout history: Martyrs, or Agressors? July 25, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in News and politics, Politics, Society.
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I was just thinking today that it is evident that Israel has had problems with all their neighbors, namely Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon… When you are the one that is in problems with everybody else, you can only wonder if you are the one who has problems.

With this I don’t want to imply anything about Israel, as I really don’t think I can understand much of the situation there, and even at times I tend to take part with them, but from looking at the facts, and the territorial problems seen with all of Israel’s neighbors, I was thinking that Israel is either a nation that has suffered the harshest injustices to keep their land, or they are an aggressor who always want to take what belongs to somebody else.

I know the situation is more complicated than that, and you can’t just easily decide what belongs to whom, because in reality, the location of this territory makes it the land that many ethnic and religious groups claim, Christians included. You can only hope that in some way, all parts involved will find a way to “share” the land, and forget past aggressions. I know it is hard, but hoping for this is all the majority of humans can do right now.

It is irrational to try to stop violence by creating a war July 20, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in News and politics, Politics.
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Israel’s disproportionate use of force will only bring more violence to the Middle East.

Israel has its own right to defend itself. That is what the majority of the western world thinks when it comes down to the situation in the Middle East in the last week. Fine, this may be true. The question that I have is whether it is a good idea to bring violence to an end when all you are creating is more violence. Do Israelis really think that bombing Lebanon will make Hezbollah, a terrorist group, want to stop their terrorist acts? I think Israel’s actions are just feeding Hezbollah’s hunger, and are just making Lebanese people get on the side of Hezbollah, as they feel that the common enemy is the one that is destructing their territory, and killing their families.

The US ambassador to the UN has defended Israeli actions, as it is the only position that the US can take, since there is a big similarity between what is happening right now, and what the US did on Iraq. So, the obvious thing to do for the US is to get on the side of Israel, and say that there is a valid reason for Israel to do what they are doing. Quoting John Bolton, US ambassador to the UN: “As we’ve said repeatedly, what we seek is a long-term cessation of hostilities that is part of a comprehensive change in the region and a part of a real foundation for peace but, still, no one has explained how you conduct the cease-fire with a group of terrorists”.

After hearing this, all that comes to mind is a quote that I once read. I believe it was Mahatma Gandhi who said it: “There is no road to peace, peace is the road”.