Colombia: 52 Years of Civil War

Colombia: 52 Years of Civil War

What Started Out as Containment Changed into War.
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On October 2nd, 2016 the Colombian government received the results to a special election concerning the conclusion of a 52 year old civil war. This election held only two options; Yes to peace between the Colombian Government or no peace whatsoever.

The vote results stated that 50.2 percent of the Colombian people stated that there should be no peace. The other 49.8 percent stated that there should be peace. The peace talks for the Colombian Civil War have been in the works since June 23rd, 2016 when both sides signed an official ceasefire.

Though the vote for a formal peace failed, the ceasefire is still in effect. The Colombian Civil War began as any traditional civil war would, between the people and the government. In 1948, the populist political leader, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán was assassinated. This and the aftermath of U.S. backed anti-communist repression in rural Colombia in the 60’s led to liberal and communist militants to re-organize into the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People’s Army (FARC).

What began as a containment method for Communism during the Cold War era would evolve into something else. Whenever President Kennedy sent the Peace Corps to Colombia for education in healthcare, agriculture or construction. It transitioned from a really good idea into something dreadful.

Overtime the volunteers turned into narcotics instructors for the American Mafia and the Colombian drug traffickers. The most prominent drug produced was cocaine, and the buyers varied from the U.S. and the E.U. So what began as a means of containing communism in America’s Backyard, evolved into the War on Drugs.

Officially, the end of Communist Containment ended in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. With the Soviets out of the picture, Cuba, Colombia and other smaller communist nations. Without the financial backing of the Soviets, both they and the Cubans withdrew support for the FARC and other Guerrillas cause.

It should be noted that the paramilitary groups and guerrillas involved in the conflict have been reported to be involved with sex and drug trafficking. However, both sides have been criticized for several violations of human rights laws. This includes the usage of child soldiers in the ranks of the armed rebels and government. The total casualty rate is 220,000 dead. The comparison for civilian/fighter is 177,306 to 40,787.

That’s not including the five million people who have had to vacate their homes between the years 1985-2012. About 16.9% of the population has been a direct victim of the Colombian Civil War. As it stands, both sides are attempting to obtain peace through diplomacy. This is likely due to the fact that this war has been around for over five decades.

Everyone talks about the Middle East and the horrors there, but no one really looks towards Latin America. Granted, many hold a vendetta against the horrors the members of various extremist groups are doing in not just our nation, but others. Still, how can we obtain peace in a land that we have no business in, when we can’t even aid in obtaining peace in our own backyard?

Cover Image Credit: https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/2011/11/09/23/pg-40-colombia-1-rex.jpg

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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When Words Are Not Enough

Sometimes you just need to be.

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Life is a roller-coaster of ups and downs. We all desire easy fruitful lives where no one ever dies and no one ever leaves. Instead, we suffer through hardships and great trials that test our faith. These conflicts often leave us worn down and feeling helpless. This is the time when words become a languid breeze, going through one ear and out the other. This is what you should do when words are not enough to satiate the pain you hold in trembling hands.

Focus all your energy into just being. No one expects you to get over the tragedy that occurred in your life, so don't force yourself. Just eat, breathe, and sleep until you feel up to doing normal tasks. Whatever circumstance that has stolen your breath and turned your life upside down won't go a week in a couple of days or a week. Wounds like yours don't go away instantly; instead, they take time and nurturing. Sometimes it's best to keep a sore covered but in some circumstances, know that seeing someone is okay.

These tragedies you face are real, and they try to break down the very substances that make you who you are. Counselors and therapists can help you make sense of the burden you carry. There are many reasons why you might be hesitant to see a therapist, but if the burden you carry becomes too much, a therapist can help you lighten that load.

Know that what you are going through is real and it is tough, but you will make it out on top. You are a survivor and a success story. Every single bad thing that has tried to tear you down hasn't succeeded, and this will be no different. Trust me, your story is not over.

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