>Out to lunch, out to protest.

I went to the university to have lunch with some friends and ask about graduate studies in Political Science and ended up becoming a rookie photo journalist in the middle of a student protest. In short, the protest was organized to illustrate support and solidarity for various indigenous communities throughout the country who are protesting landlessness and violations of their human rights by the government. The indigenous protests are”aimed at expressing their rejection of physical and cultural genocide and the various ways in which their rights have been trampled on and violated.”

The students, many of which cover their faces to avoid being identified (duh), barricaded the entrance to the university with lunch tables and whatever else they could get a hold of, and commenced tossing their potato bombs and rocks at the cops while chanting anti-Uribe and police mantras. The fog of tear gas was thick but the students continued to cover the ¨made in the USA¨ tear gas cannisters with garbage cans while dousing milk in their eyes to sooth the watery sting. While taking fotos amongst a group of kids we were shot at twice with tear gas and the cops were taunting the students from the other side just as much as the students were taunting the cops.

The police are not allowed to enter the university but on this occasion they broke through the barricades with their armored transports and water cannons trying to spray the kids down like a gardener going crazy with a bottle of round-up. The kids just scattered and regrouped and then commenced tossing their angst and frustrations at the heavily armed police. This is the second time I have been to the University during a protest. It is fairly common for protests to take place at the public universities which are under constant threat of privatization.

It is inspiring and moving to see how passionate some of the students are here. I venture to guess part of the reason is because many of them are a lot more in touch with the realities of poverty, injustice, war and displacement. At the University of Utah, where I never saw one protest, the students seem more disconnected with the realities of the world and just go about walking around with their ipods looking cool and fashionable, not giving a shit about anything that is going on other than their next exam. If all are docile it makes mobilizition and organization more difficult. Many seem so passionate and dedicated to bringing about social change through civil disobedience, and it inspires me.

To some it may seem like another protest for some vague and obscure cause, but to others the obscurity in the cause it what beats life into their hearts. It is the fuel for revolution and social justice.

>Heading to Southern Colombia and The Billy Upskie Travel Bet)

I have been in the Casa del Sol hostel in Medellin now for about four months. I have been working in the hostel, mostly cleaning and joking around with my new friends German, Emmanuel, Lili and Vivi amongst many others.

My visa is going to expire soon so I am going to make my way down through southern Colombia and into Ecuador for a little while. I have been advised not to visit certain places in the southern part of Colombia because people have told me that they are dangerous, but if I would have listened to that type of advice I never would have visited Colombia in the first place. I am not afraid of anyplace or anyone. That is the attitude I must maintain because I want to experience this journey in a meaningful way. I want to see life and how it is lived, and just like Upski from the book ´No More Prisions,´ if nothing happens to me I challenge all of you to visit a “dangerous” area: a country, a neighborhood, or state of mind that resides outside of your comfort zone. In order to begin changing our ideas about racism, poverty, and classism we must unify and learn from one another. We must integrate, associate, laugh, cry, love and attempt to dance salsa together in order to break down the walls that line Division Street.

If all goes according to plan I will visit the departments of Choco, Quindio,Valle de Cauca, Cauca, Nariño and Puntamayo. For those who aren´t aware, there is 4 decade long civil war going on in the country. In the parts of the country that I will be visiting there is still a lot of fighting going on between government forces, the FARC , paramilitaries and narco-traffickers. The port city of Buenaventura is currently the most dangerous city in Colombia. The guerrillas fight over parts of the city with the military for access to vital drug routes to Central America and the US. The area is home to the 60th, 8th, 21st, 30th and 2nd fronts of the FARC. To be referred to as front it must have 150 active combatants. It will definitely be the most ¨unstable¨ region I have ever visited in the world, as if any region in the world is really that stable. One look at the current state of the US economy is proof of this. So onward I march, open to make new friends and speak with anyone who wants to have conversation.

So here goes, do you dare? Let me in on your stories if you do!

stay tuned for updates….