Article & Photos: Francisco Antonio Manrique
Despite having a significantly lower turn out than its counterparts in other major Colombian cities, last night’s Hug-a-thon at Barranquilla’s emblematic Peace Square went off without a hitch. As explained by one of the “Peace to the Street” spokespersons, this Hug-a-thon was an invitation to all people to “embrace” peace through the symbolic gesture of embracing each other, and is just one of several planned demonstrations aiming to bring awareness to the general public regarding the current state of the peace talks between the FARC guerrillas and the Colombian government.
“Peace to the Street” is a non-partisan movement comprised of concerned politically-engaged citizens who have been assembling regularly since this past October 2nd’s referendum outcome denied the possibility of ending the over five-decades-long conflict, to defend the ideal of peace, and to demand that the government take effective action towards a final negotiated solution to the conflict. Though the event was mainly planned by young students of both public and private local universities, they were joined by several interest groups of different ages and composition, and some passersby as well who were lured by the presence of media, traditional music, and candles.
Peacefully chanting slogans like “Agreement Now”, “We the Women want Peace”, “Not a single man, not a single woman, not a single peso more for war”, while occasionally exchanging hugs and lighting candles, the small crowd of less than a hundred participants circled a portion of the square to the amazement of some other people which didn’t partake. Towards the end and in a much-accustomed fashion, demonstrators started dancing and marching to the beat of drums and Porro music.
“Peace to the Street” has pledged to continue demonstrating and assembling to discuss all matters pertaining the aforementioned agreement, though it remains unclear whether the government will ever heed any of their suggestions. In the meantime, optimism and awareness seem to be the only tools available to counter frustration and fear in our historical crossroads of great uncertainty.