One of those odd things about Colombia – perhaps part of that magic realism that everyone talks about – is that the country has a hidden war. Hidden from the very citizens of the country, since those who live in big cities often forget their country has not known peace for decades due to a war that started in their grandparent’s lifetime and still hasn’t ended. However, it’s a war that doesn’t touch their lives very often – a bomb goes off every once in a while in a big city, and they remember.
It’s also a war hidden from the world. Who knows that Colombia has been immersed in civil war since the 1940s? If you mention the war to someone in the United States, as I have, the answer you’ll frequently get is, “War?” (accompanied by a confused scrunching of the forehead).
“Yeah. Like, you’ve heard of the war on drugs?”
“Oh, that war. Of course.”
Well, the thing is, it’s not the war on drugs. That was simply part of the US intervention in a much longer, much more complicated civil strife that has killed and displaced millions and millions of people.
What peace (or the lack of it) has to do with you
Why does this matter? Well, many travelers visiting Colombia may not realize that this war is ongoing, in spite of peace talks. When you hear that some areas of Colombia aren’t safe to travel to, it’s because the country is at war. Take the warnings seriously.
Here at Flavors of Bogota we are neutral in politics. But we are quite positive about any endeavor that helps people in communities that have been negatively affected by external factors – including war. So when a fellow English language blogger, Gwen Burnyeat, mentioned a documentary that relates the story of the Peace Community of San José of Apartadó, I was interested. When she said it had to do with chocolate, I was even more intrigued.
This community has traditionally farmed cacao. They have also cultivated peace in the midst of war by refusing to support one side or the other, in spite of the pressure and massacres they’ve been subjected to.
Chocolate de Paz, or Chocolate of Peace, is a documentary made by Gwen Burnyeat and Pablo Mejía Trujillo that looks into the lives of these people who have strived for peace when there hasn’t been any, who have persevered in their non-political stance when everyone around them has worked to involve them – or kill them. It traces individual stories through images, film, art, interviews, and cacao. It tells us how these people have won – and at times lost – in their fight to live peaceful lives.
Peace in any country – especially one that has been at war for so long – is a complicated subject. But helping communities find peace should not be. Some of the products produced by this community are available at stores and online. Find out more here.
This documentary has not yet been translated into English, but subtitles are on the way. The images, however, tell the story in any language.