Santa Elena: People are Unhappy

Riding into to the finca in the collectivo Saturday morning we got an earful about peoples dissatisfaction with how the Mayors office in Medellin is handling a regional development project and legalization of peoples proprieties. One of the local towns, Mazo, held a demonstration Saturday afternoon to protest the way things are being handled. The two guys with us in the cab were livid.

The folks in Mazo are pretty well organized and I think they are the fuse to the powder keg. They are concerned about their homes being condemned and torn down. The context is a regional tourism development project and a city administration trying to implement planning procedures. Colombia and Medellin need good planning laws and regulations, no doubt about it. Most people in our area however bought their homes when these did not exist or were not enforced. Hence there are lots of properties without proper documentation. This problem goes back for generations and a heavy handed approach will cause a lot of hate and dissention.

The City needs to reassess their approach now before irreparable harm is done.

Update: 24 September 2009

It turns out that the main concern people have is widening the road through the area. More than 100 houses will have to be condemned and destroyed for the road. Improved transportation is critical to the development project so it is likely that the condemnations will occur.



  1. Douger said,

    September 26, 2009 at 14:47

    Let me ” kick it up a notch”.
    Same movie. Different hemisphere.
    Don’t be fooled…AGAIN !

  2. pbunch said,

    September 21, 2009 at 19:34

    Douger: I’m not sure but if you are referring to the US military base move, feelings here are mixed. The Chavez-Morales-Ortega supporters don’t like the idea at all. I have not heard a lot on the other side but I suspect the feelings are complex.

    Since the US facilitated the separation of Panama from Colombia back in Teddy Roosevelt’s day there has been a deep level distrust of the US. For many people it is a background issue. Colombians generally like the US and folks from there. After so many years of war with the right and left wing illegal groups the country is tired of the fighting and wants to move forward. The wheel definitely has not stopped turning on that one.

    The issue is sensitive and I hope it is handled carefully.

  3. pbunch said,

    September 21, 2009 at 18:50

    It is interesting to see how a culture in transition from a rural, rather relaxed base handles the problems of life in the modern world. There is still a lot of resistance to change which is understandable.

    I really like a lot of the folks up in the Santa Elena area. They are mostly good neighbors and solid people. I’m looking into making contact with some land use lawyers to see if we can get some leverage. The Colombian constitution strongly supports communities and the City may be messing with the wrong group. Time will tell…

  4. Douger said,

    September 21, 2009 at 17:58

    Wait until the Empire gets there to ‘ help”.

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