Caravana Blog #10
24 september 2018

Caravana Blog #10


Day 12 (Final blog): Blood, sweat and tears

I could have come up with a more original title for my last blog. I know. However, after reading what I have to say I hope you understand why I still chose to use it. I wrote this blog after a few days of rest, during my flight back to the Netherlands. After I had managed to give the magnitude and intensity of the Caravana a place in my brain.

In several occasions over the last week I described the Caravana as a carousel of emotions. Looking back, I still believe this description perfectly fits. There have been moments of joy, and moments of sadness. Moments of laughter, and moments of silence. Moments of strength, but also moments of weakness. Moments of connection, and moments of distance. Quite confusing at times. This Caravana was basically a demonstration by life itself, concentrated in one week and without any break or chance to breathe. A complicated dance between hope and dispair, which I do not yet master, but definitely have learned to appreciate. More or less like salsa.

For my last blog I want to discuss three quotes, that in my opinion summarise what the Caravana is all about. Later on I will tell you who they are from.

1) La sangre sirve para dar vida, no para quitarla. Blood serves to give life, not to take it away.

In the last 10 days I have heard more stories about blood being shed than during the previous 29 years I have been on this planet. People being threatened, kidnapped, stabbed, shot, murdered. Men getting slaughtered, women getting raped, children disappearing. So much misery, that I wonder how my brain managed to keep me optimistic. I don’t think I am a heartless person, but it kind of bothers me that I have been falling asleep peacefully every night. Why am I not crying in my bed when thinking about Jorge, Adil, Rommel or any of the other people I have connected with? How am I able to laugh about one of Wout’s jokes just five minutes after interviewing a victim of human rights violations? I mean, Wout’s jokes are really funny, but should I not feel guilty every second of the day? Feel the pain of others, and force myself to imagine what they go through on a daily basis? I don’t know.

2) Mi papá me enseño que las cosas en la vida se compran con el sudor. My father taught me that the things in life are bought by sweat.

The level of commitment of the Colombian people for a better and peaceful future is tremendous. One can only admire their courage and spirit. While unnecessary blood is shed on a daily basis, an equal amount of sweat is sacrificed to compensate the country’s problems. It’s impressive, but it also makes me wonder. Why do I make time to do fun stuff, when I could be investing it in helping other people? How can one live his life peacefully solely thanks to the country he originates from, knowing what’s going on around on the other side of the world? Again, I don’t know.

3) Las lágrimas son espejitos producidos por tu alma. Cada una refleja una cierta memoria. Juntas forman tu historia. Tears are little mirrors produced by your soul. Every single one reflects a certain memory. Together they shape your history.

This is a quote of true beauty. And above all, it is true. The recent history of Colombia is marked by tears. Wept in the shadow of events that tested the Colombian resilience to the max. And there was little to be done. Except for survive. Why do we not fight every single minute of the day in order to prevent people from crying? Why does distance create the illusion that misery taking place far away is less important than what’s going on within a radius of 150 kilometers? I really don’t know.

The questions I bring forward are all quite confronting and I believe it is human nature to try and not think about them constantly. It’s a way of survival. However, I have tried to bomb myself with all the above mentioned questions because I don’t want to run away from them. I found out that I don’t have the answers. But I did understand what gives me the tranquility and comfort to keep living my life, even after I return home. The above three quotes about blood, sweat and tears are not from a lawyer, nor from a judge. They are not from a human rights defender, a politician or a teacher. The quotes are the words of Naldo, a sixteen year old boy working on a coffee farm, who I met in north Colombia during my short holiday break in the mountains. It is difficult to understand that these words came out of the mouth of a kid that is thirteen years younger than me. It is even harder to realise that he is equipped with double the amount of wisdom. Nevertheless it is the truth. And I’m glad it is. Because without having witnessed the existence of people like Naldo, my hope would have been weaker. And I might not have slept at all. Naldo is the future generation. A generation that deserves peace. A young man that breathes life, but has witnessed way too much sadness for his young age. I will never forget his dark brown eyes, curly hair and skinny arms and legs. The rhythm of his speech and the seriousness of his tone. Or the blood, sweat and tears that his young mind endured and shaped.

Naldo is the future of Colombia and I hope we will one day meet again. Preferably in the canteen of his coffee farm, on a Monday morning. While taking a sip of Naldo’s finest coffee. And with some salsa or cumbia music played by Joe Arroyo on the background.

Colombia no te olvidaré. Colombia I won’t forget you.

Meer nieuws uit Colombia

10 juli 2023

Concerns over death threat against Colombian human rights lawyer Adil Meléndez Marquez


Adil José Meléndez Marquez is a prominent Colombian human rights lawyer. He is one of the few lawyers in the country working on land restitution cases, and the prosecution of the (para)military in the northern Bolivar region. He also represents

Lees verder
18 april 2023

UPR submission Colombia


On 5 April 2023, Lawyers for Lawyers submitted a report for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Colombia. The next UPR of Colombia will take place in November 2023. The UPR report highlights issues regarding Colombia’s compliance with its international

Lees verder
15 maart 2023

Concerns about the ongoing threats, kidnapping and harassment against Colombian lawyer Andrea Torres Bautista


Lawyers for Lawyers is concerned about the ongoing threats, harassment and the lack of progress in the investigations of aggressions towards Andrea Torres Bautista, Colombian human rights lawyer and co-director of the Fundación Nydia Erik Bautista (FNEB). Andrea Torres heads

Lees verder
22 december 2022

Adil Meléndez Marquez: “When starting a legal case, there is no guarantee at all that it will ever be treated, let alone that environmental and human rights violations are actually punished”


Illustration: Joost Hölscher Adil Meléndez Márquez, 46 years old and born in San Onofre, department of Sucre, Colombia, lives in the north of Colombia in Cartagena de las Indias. He works as an environmental and human rights lawyer and mainly

Lees verder