Colombia Culture

Colombia Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Colombia

According to CONSTRUCTMATERIALS.COM, Colombia is a country located in South America. The distribution of daily newspapers in Colombia is relatively limited (46 newspaper excl. Per 1,000 residents, 2000), and there are some thirty newspapers. The press is privately owned and represents the country’s traditional parties. Bogotá’s largest daily newspapers are El Tiempo (founded in 1911, edition: 265,000 copies), El Espectador (founded in 1887, about 200,000 copies) and the evening newspaper El Espacio (founded in 1965, 160,000 copies). Large editions also have El Colombiano (about 90,000 copies) in Medellín, El Heraldo (about 70,000 copies) in Barranquilla and El País (about 60,000 copies) in Cali.

Freedom of the press is guaranteed in the constitution and respected, but a greater danger to the free word is violence and murder of journalists and newspaper owners. The threat to freedom of the press comes most often in the violence that can be associated with the drug trade.

A state-owned radio station competes with more than 400 private stations. Inravision is the state television monopoly (one training station and two commercial stations as well as three regional), which also leases broadcast time to 33 commercial companies. In 1998, two privately owned TV channels were allowed to start broadcasting. There are 544 radio and 282 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).


According to CALCULATORINC, music and dance play a central role in Colombian cultural life. The music unites influences from Andean tones in the south, Caribbean rhythms in the north and the heritage of Spain. The heritage of indigenous peoples, Afrocolombians and Europeans is also reflected in other cultural expressions.

According to HISTORYAAH.COM, Cumbia and vallenato are two domestic forms, but the country is a major exporter of Latin pop and salsa as well. Artist Shakira has a major impact internationally and is known among others for the official song Waka Waka at the Soccer World Cup in South Africa 2010.

Literature has a strong position. The country’s greatest cultural personality is Gabriel García Márquez (1927–2014), Nobel laureate in literature in 1982. His most read novel, Hundred Years of Solitude, is described by the fingered village of Macondo, both Colombia’s and Latin America’s history. Among other well-known contemporary writers are Laura Restrepo (including the Leopard in the sun) and Juan Gabriel Vásquez (The Sound of Things Falling).

One of the continent’s most famous artists is Fernando Botero (1932–), famous for his realistic motifs of grotesque obese people in typically Latin American environments. Theater life is also broad and developed.

The prehistoric cultural heritage is rich. The Gold Museum in Bogotá is considered among the foremost of its kind. Most famous is Balsa Muisca, a pure gold image of the raft used by the indigenous people of Muisca in their coronation ceremonies.

Muisca’s rituals brought to life the rumors of the gold town of El Dorado, which propelled the Spanish colonizers to constantly new conquests. Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) is considered to be the capital of the tayrona people. It was discovered in the 1970s in the jungle of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

The Spanish colonizers who arrived in the early 16th century have characterized Colombia in several respects. According to PAYHELPCENTER.COM, one of South America’s best-preserved colonial cities is Cartagena on the north coast, named by the city’s great author Germán Espinosa as “the city of legends”.



New general strike following call attempts

December 4th

A third two-week general strike is being carried out, and union members, students and groups of origin are leading demonstrations against the government around the country. The day before, direct talks were held for the first time between the government and the National Strike Committee, with no results.


Protest leaders present demands

November 26th

The national strike committee leading the ongoing protests presents a list of 13 demands to the government, including the abolition of a proposed tax reform, the peace agreement with Farc from 2016 being respected and fulfilled, and the government doing more to prevent the assassination of social activists and former rebels. Perhaps the most controversial claim is that the elite police force Esmad should be dissolved, after an 18-year-old protester died after being hit in the head by one of the police’s tear gas canisters. The National Strike Committee has been formed by around 300 trade unions and groups representing students, university teachers and groups of origin, among others. A few days earlier, President Iván Duque has launched what he calls a national dialogue to try to pour oil on the protest wave, together with mayors and other politicians.

Mass protests erupt

November 21st

According to ZIPCODESEXPLORER.COM, hundreds of thousands of Colombians participate in protest marches around Colombia, in protest against violence and drug trafficking and in support of the peace agreement with Farc 2016. The demonstrations have been largely inspired by similar protest movements in Chile and Ecuador during the fall. The government is deploying 170,000 soldiers and police to maintain the order, closing the country’s borders. Unrest and vandalism erupt in several places. Three people die and around 270 are injured.

The Minister of Defense resigns

November 6

Defense Minister Guillermo Botero leaves his post after accusations that he tried to darken a scandal in which children fell victim to a military air strike. The 71-year-old lawyer Botero has previously been criticized both for lack of experience in security matters and for reproducing incorrect information about a military operation against a former guerrilla soldier. The criticism grew into a storm after he claimed that the deaths in connection with the air strike were people who had been recruited by an armed gang consisting of defeated guerrillas. Nine of the 14 victims were children.


Military deployed following murder of origin leader

October 30th

The government decides to send 2,500 elite soldiers to an area in southwestern Colombia where former Farcrebeller murdered a leader and four others who belonged to the indigenous people’s nasa. The murders occurred in a region that is administratively controlled by NASA, which states that Farc dissidents are trying to force locals to participate in drug smuggling. President Iván Duque accuses the rebels who abandoned the peace agreement of terrorizing indigenous peoples. The elite soldiers are now tasked with stopping the drug smuggling and crushing the Farc dissidents’ groups. Indigenous peoples organization Onic states that 123 people belonging to indigenous peoples have been murdered since Duque took office in August 2018.

Record number of candidates in local elections

October 27th

When governor elections and elections in the municipalities are held, 116,000 candidates stand, of which 37 percent are women. That’s more than ever before. In Bogota, for the first time, a woman is elected mayor. In addition, 49-year-old Claudia López is openly gay, tweeting about a historic victory. The former guerrilla Farc is running for election for the second time, but only takes home a single municipality in southwestern Colombia.

Ex-president Uribe facing HD

October 8

During a major security effort, the senator and leader of the ruling party CD, Álvaro Uribe, appoints in the Supreme Court. The court will decide whether the former president (2002-2010) should be tried, for suspected testimony. The recording is a report Uribe himself made in 2012 against another senator, leftist politician Iván Cepeda, who claimed that Uribe was planning to falsely link him to paramilitary groups.


Former Farc leaders admit guilt for kidnappings

September 24th

Eleven leaders of the former left-wing guerrilla Farc say they take “ethical and political responsibility” for the thousands of kidnappings carried out during the long civil war in Colombia. It happens when the former commander and now party leader Rodrigo “Timochenko” Londoño submits testimony to the special judicial body JEP. Londoño says the Farc leaders have taken the first step in a long process. JEP will investigate crimes committed by the guerrillas between 1993 and 2012, and let ex-rebels avoid prison sentences if they admit, replace the victims and promise never to resort to violence again. Londoño and a couple of other former guerrilla leaders pleaded with the JEP victims in July 2018 for forgiveness.


Ex-rebels take to arms

August 29th

A former peace negotiator and second man in the Farc left guerrilla, Iván Márquez, says he and several other ex-rebels are now picking up weapons again (see also October 2018). The message is given in a video in which Iván Márquez appears in military clothes, surrounded by several armed former Farc members. Among them are two other famous men, Jesús Santrich (see July 2019) and Hernán Darío Velásquez (“El Paisa”). Márquez accuses the government of cheating on the implementation of the 2016 peace agreement and unilaterally changing the terms. On the same day, President Iván Duque announces that a special army unit will be formed to hunt down former Farc members. He also promises the equivalent of $ 882,000 to anyone who succeeds in arresting any of the people in the video.


Arrest warrant for Farc leader

July 9

The Supreme Court issues an arrest warrant for former rebel leader Jesús Santrich after failing to appear in court (see also May and June 2019). Santrich, who is suspected of drug smuggling, is reported to have disappeared two days earlier from the “reintegration zone” where he was, near the Venezuela border. President Iván Duque accuses Santrich of going underground to avoid justice while his lawyer says he doesn’t know where he is, and his son fears he has been kidnapped or killed. Another three leading Farc members have disappeared (see also October 2018).


Farc leaders appeal for protection for ex-rebels

June 19

The supreme leader of the former leftist guerrilla Farc, Rodrigo Londoño, appeals in an open letter to President Iván Duque about a halt to the “systematic murders” of former guerrillas. Two new such murders have just occurred: one former Farc member was shot to death while working as a journalist and the other after a meeting with UN staff. President Duque has condemned the murders and ordered an investigation. A total of 160 former Farc soldiers and their relatives are estimated to have been murdered since the peace treaty was concluded in 2016. The UN has found that it is mainly illegal armed groups and narcotics that are behind the murder of the former Farc soldiers.

Farc leader becomes congressman

June 11

Former guerrilla leader Jesús Santrich swears the oath and takes his place in Congress where the former left guerrilla Farc, now a political party, has ten reserved seats until 2026 in accordance with the peace agreement. Santrich himself says that a new step has been taken in defense of peace in Colombia – but President Duque has recently called him a “mafioso” who runs the Colombian society (see also May 2019).


Court order to release Farc leader

May 29th

The Supreme Court orders the government to immediately release former guerrilla leader Jesús Santrich who was released and then remanded earlier this month. The Court also rejects a number of amendments to the peace agreement proposed by President Duque. Duque says he accepts the court’s decision, but also that he will continue to try to resolve things that “do not go well” with the peace agreement concluded in 2016 with Farc, the former guerrilla who is now a political party.

The army reverses “dead” orders

May 21

The military announces that an order for sharpened action against criminals should be modified – as a result of a critical New York Times article. According to the article, there was a great risk of an increased number of civilian casualties when the army ordered a doubling of the number of criminals and members of armed groups killed, arrested or forced to capitulate in combat. The order raised concerns about the repetition of the severe abuses committed during Álvaro Uribe’s presidency in 2002-2008, when up to 5,000 civilians are believed to have been murdered (see Modern History and Political System). According to the army, the order has been misinterpreted. The government accuses New York Times journalist Nicholas Casey, regional bureau chief of the prestigious newspaper, of being bought by former left-wing guerrilla Farc. The International Press Federation in Colombia rejects the allegations and requests a correction. Casey has left Colombia.

Farc leaders are released – and arrested again

May 17

The court that investigates crimes committed during the civil conflict decides that former guerrilla leader Jesús Santrich should be released and not released to the United States, who wants to put him on trial for drug smuggling (see April and May 2018). The prosecutor protests against the decision and President Iván Duque says he is confident that it will change. When Santrich leaves the prison – in a wheelchair – he is also immediately re-arrested and taken away by helicopter. The prosecutor says he acted on an arrest warrant linked to drug smuggling. Santrich, who is actually called Seuxis Paucias Hernández, is accused by the United States of being involved in smuggling ten tons of cocaine into the United States after the peace treaty with the leftist guerrilla Farc was signed. According to the peace settlement, amnesty for former guerrilla soldiers only applies to crimes committed before the agreement was signed. Farc, now transformed into a political party, claims that Santrich has been subjected to a “legal trap”.


A new regional forum is formed

March 22

During a meeting in Chile, eight South American presidents launch the new Regional Forum for the Progress of South America (Prosur), which is intended to replace Unasur – a regional body that has effectively ceased to function. Prosecur will mainly support democracy and the market economy, it says. The initiative has been taken by President Iván Duque and Chile’s Sebastián Piñera, and the other participating countries are Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay and Peru. Representatives of the left-wing governments in Bolivia, Surinam and Uruguay attend the meeting, but those countries do not join Prosur. Venezuela was not invited.


Bloody explosion in Bogotá

January 17

A car bomb explodes at a police school in Bogotá and demands the lives of 20 police cadets, in an attack for which the Marxist guerrilla ELN then takes on the blame. Nearly 70 are also injured in what the government classifies as terrorist offenses and which leads to President Iván Duque announcing three days of country grief. The act of violence is the worst that has hit the capital in 15 years. The driver of the car, who also dies in the explosion, is identified as an explosive expert at ELN. Following the attack, President Duque is demanding the expulsion of ten ELN leaders from Cuba, which the Cuban government, however, rejects.

Colombia Culture

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