How to heal Colombia’s wounds: rewrite its anthem?

Colombians calling for peace at a rally. I hope the ink isn't permanent

Colombians calling for peace at a rally. I hope the ink isn’t permanent

In June, Colombia’s government and Farc guerillas signed a deal that may – may! – end the country’s 50-year conflict, which has seen 250,000 people killed and a good six million displaced. “What’s that got to do with bloody national anthems?” I hear you ask. “Isn’t that the point of this blog?”

Well, last week, a “group of young people excited for peace” launched a campaign for a new verse to be added to Colombia’s that speaks of the country’s hopeful future, rather than its horiffic past.

It’d be verse 12, so no one would actually sing it. It’d be a purely symbolic gesture. But if you want an insight into just how desperate Colombians are for peace, you only have to look at some of the entries so far. Although they’re all so filled with frank descriptions of past violence, it makes you wonder if the country will ever heal.

Here’s a typical example:

Kidnappings and massacres lead only to destruction
Let us say no to the guns and violence that covered us
The blood of our race is the purest, a blessing
Fight together, fight united, like the children that God created

And here’s another:

The people dressed in white, the land mourns the past
But the colours of this country have been able to resurface
Gore still lives in memory
Peace and joy today must govern

Surprisingly, the idea hasn’t gone down well with some. It turns out the “young people” all work for two advertising agencies, J Walter Thompson and Sistole, who regularly win government contracts. This apparently means the initiative must be corrupt.

How on earth that’s the case, I’ve yet to work out, but it shows you just how far Colombians have to go before they can trust each other again.

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