A car bomb went off in a busy commercial district of Bogota yesterday (an area that we often frequent), killing two people and injuring 39. The bomb was intended for the archconservative ex-Minister of the Interior who took a very hardline stance against guerilla groups while he was minister and continues to push against “negotiating with terrorists”. He wasn’t hurt but his driver and one of his body guards were killed. This is the first fatal bombing in Bogota in nearly a decade and according to newspapers, Bogotanos are shaken up and afraid that the violence they lived with during the Pablo Escobar days is returning.
What I have found strange is that here in Chia, about 30 min from Bogota, to which most people commute for work and errands, nobody has said much about it. I went to a meeting at school yesterday and one mom apologized for being late saying that she was near where the bomb went off. That’s it. Just a quick explanation for why she was late with no more commentary. Nobody else said anything either. Today, one mom at school commented that the bombing was “ugly” and another chimed in that her in-laws live nearby and felt the whole building shake. We then moved on to the business at hand – planning the school gala.
I am observing this and finding it very curious. I can only imagine the hoopla that would occur in the US if a bomb went off in New York City. I am willing to bet that this would be the only topic of conversation for days, if not weeks or months.
It makes me think of how a Colombian friend recently told me, when I commented to her that while everybody seems to go through life as usual here, I sense an underlying fear, mistrust and pessimism about life in the culture, that “everybody thinks of Colombians as so fun loving and happy but that it is just a façade. Most adults have lived through the violence of the Pablo Escobar days, where bombs (including a plane hat blew up in mid-air) and assassinations were commonplace. There is no way that you just get over that kind of fear. People here just cover it up with the rumba (partying).”
I certainly have no way of knowing is my friend’s opinion is correct in describing such a complicated situation, but everybody going about their business as usual without even mentioning the bombing does seem unusual to my way of thinking. But who knows how I would be thinking if I grew up with this level of violence? Denial works. We all do whatever we need to survive.