What we can see in the photo is the typical entourage of a politician here in Bogotá – 4 SUVs and 2 police bikes. (Actually it’d be great if someone can tell me why on earth they need so many SUVs. How does that enhance their personal safety while hiking up taxpayers’ burden? Colombia is already having enough of a problem with its deficits as the government tries to fill a budget hole triggered by the oil price slump that brought the peso to an abyss of never-ending fall.)
How these politicians choose to live is really none of my business. But it’s REALLY my problem when they start crossing the line. Sometimes you will find yourself stuck in traffic, with vehicles in front not moving at all, even though the traffic lights have turned green once, twice, and again. Other times, you can’t cross a street even though the green man is on, and then it’s off, and then it’s back on, and you wonder when you will cross.
What happens is that politicians in this country have a REAL privilege. They aren’t subject to the same road conditions as the rest of the city. Here’s what happens. They roam across the city with 2 police motorcycles leading the way, followed by 1 SUV, then their own SUV, then another SUV behind, and finally trailed by another police motorcycle. The first officer goes ahead to stop the junction traffic from blocking their way, while the second motorcycle gestures cars on their route to go so the VIP doesn’t have to wait for their turn at the green light, which could be 10-20 minutes during peak hours. Why shouldn’t politicians respect the same road conditions as others? At which point I find myself feeling an enormous sense of injustice. But what can you do?
Denied street access
So last Friday night, as I tried to cross the street, I found my pedestrian walkway (the narrow shaded area under a tree between 2 the patches of green) blocked by the second and the third beasty machines. Since the 2 SUVs actually parked right behind one and other, leaving only a 15-cm gap in between, I was forced to go round them and walk on some soil to cross the street (see the space towards the back of the photo). I was mad at the deliberate way the cars had been parked, so I actually had the guts to go up to one of the policers and complained, ‘please park in a way so you are not blocking pedestrians in the future.’ Actually, I made a mistake. I should have asked them to leave since apparently it’s not legal to park there, as shown by the police 2 weeks ago (keep reading).
He replied, ‘you can walk over there, or there, or there,’ pointing at the patches of soil which fortunately due to this year’s beautiful weather conditions had been kept dry, otherwise he was really telling me to f*cking ‘get my feet dirty’ and stick my shoes in some deep shit.
I should bring us up to speed. 2 weeks ago there was a commotion in exactly the same street. 2 police officers were being attacked by ten or so kitchen staff/waiters from the restaurants in the neighbourhood. The police chose to do nothing, not surprisingly, considering their rather underrepresented number. They were trying to tow the motorbikes that were parked on the street and belonged to the staff. The motorbikes must have meant a lot to the staff since they fought hard to take them back from the tow truck. After a bit of tackling, the police finally got more backup (like 20 minutes later.. how efficient when the police station is only 2-minute walk away), at which point the victims of the raid had dispersed and removed their bikes from the street. In the end the restaurant manager became the culprit and was handcuffed, while the restaurant owner came out to ‘talk’ to the police. The funny question is – what might they have been talking about!? Clearly the police could simply have taken the manager away. Why stay on the street talking? The answer is obvious.
I’m not a political columnist but the issues at hand are rather simple. How could the police forbid ordinary people who struggle to make ends meet from illegal parking, exactly the same thing that they let the politician do 2 weeks later? Why the f*ck should you filthy politicians be entitled to different space and rights of the city? What do you do you filthy pigs to have earned this right? Second, why should I, a resident, be denied my civil rights, be denied equal access to public spaces? I’m sure someone will come to me and tell me how all politicians around the world are the same and the Colombian ones are by no means worse. So what???!!? What does that even mean?!!?? Well, I’m sure the same shit shit happens in many other places, but at least some of those governments DO things for their people. They build roads. They build a metro. They work.