Government scandals and the survival of indigenous children in Colombia
There are a lot of important things happening in Colombia right now.
For starters, the government of Gustavo Petro – Colombia’s first-ever leftist president – is in big turmoil.
But the biggest news from Colombia was last weekend’s discovery of four indigenous children, ages 1 to 13, the only survivors of a small plane crash.
WLRN's Americas Editor Tim Padgett discussed all of that and more with Marco Frieri, a respected Colombian political analyst in Miami, during the latest episode of The South Florida Roundup
“We were very emotional for the last month [given] all the news that we get out of our country,” Frieri said. “Getting this positive news was great. I think it lasted too [little], the feeling of positivism that we have as Colombians [given] that news, because there's always something happening in Colombia.”
After spending 40 days in the Colombian jungle on their own, the children were still alive. Their survival put Colombia’s most abused and neglected population, the indigenous, in the sort of heroic spotlight it has long deserved.
But now there is a battle for the custody of the four children.
“I just hope these children can go back to a normal life and, again, be a vessel of their people with the rest of the country that we need to connect with,” Frieri replied when asked if the custody battle casts a bit of a cloud over the children’s inspiring story.
In other Colombian news, it seems Petro will now have a lot of trouble carrying out post-civil war reforms in the country, largely because of the political scandal involving two of his closest advisers.
“This chaos … is making him lose popularity in the country,” Frieri said. “The Colombian community in South Florida, which is obviously against him in a majority of the sense, are happy because they see that all those reforms he wanted to do will not pass.”
On the plus side, Petro just secured a ceasefire with Colombia’s last remaining guerrilla group, the ELN.
“It's one of the positive things happening to him during this week,” Frieri said. “I think Colombians there are hesitant on this deal because it does not stop the ELN from doing certain things — extortion, kidnapping. So, yes, it's a ceasefire, but what are we giving them and what are they giving us?”
During that same episode of The South Florida Roundup, Padgett and his guests also tackled the potential mass exodus of migrant workers from Florida and whether Broward County’s school system has put its troubles behind it.
Listen to the full conversation here.