Saturday, February 17, 2018

More Color in La Candelaria

The newly-painted La Concordia park, in La Candelaria. The painting was done by 'Rodaz,' with his sons Nomada and Malegria, sponsored by the city through Idartes. The murals, which really brighten the park up, were inaugurated with a celebration Feb. 17, complete with breakdancers.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Photos of the Day

These two little girls were accompanying their father, a street vendor on Calle 22, just west of Carrera 7. Is this the start of a lifetime reading habit? Hope so.

Under Peñalosa, the police have aggressively pursued such vendors, clearing them off of sidewalks. But what harm is this guy doing? The sidewalk is wide, and no formal businesses nearby are selling books.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Visit to Paloquemao's Morning Flower Market

Today is Valentine's Day - a big day in Colombia, if only because flowers drive a chunk of the economy. Over recent decades, Colombia's flower exports have bloomed, mostly to the United States (and at the expense of the U.S.'s domestic flower market, which has wilted), thanks to greatly reduced tarrifs. 

So, what better place to commemorate Valentine's Day than in Paloquemao's morning flower market, which we sometimes visit during our bike tours.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Another (Dubious) Recognition for Bogotá!

Bogotá drivers and passengers wait...
Colombia has achieved yet another dubious recognition. The analysis firm Inrix found that Colombia has the worst traffic in the region and the THIRD-WORST IN THE WORLD. , expect for Sao Paolo.
In La Candelaria, every evening.

Bogotá has worst traffic than any other regional cityThat's a grim honor, since Colombia is still a developing nation and car ownership rates here are certain to continue growing quickly.

The infuriating thing about traffic trouble is that, unlike a drought, earthquake or flooding, traffic congestion is man-made and completely avoidable. Instead, Bogotá seems to be doing its best to make traffic worse, with subsidized gasoline, free parking and saturation advertising. The media also buy into this, of course, by publishing cheering stories whenever cars sales are strong, apprently not recalling that those vehicles will soon strangle streets and poison our air.

Waiting on 26th Stree.

Traffic jams aren't just bad for making it to appointments on time. They also increase air pollution, contribute to sedentarianism and cause stress and noise.

What can Bogotá do about its terrible traffic? It's simple, if not easy: Raise the cost of driving, both economically and convenience-wise. That means charging more for gasoline, parking and other driving-related things. Enforcing air pollution laws would take a significant number of cars off of the road. And, expanding TransMilenio and bike lanes would make traffic congestion worse. But, by discouraging driving, the policies would encourage residents to leave their cars at home.

However, those policies are also all unpopular, so don't hold your breath.

Carrera 5 in its usual condition.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Canine Tejo!

'This is how you play tejo, boy.'
During our bike tours, we usually stop for a tejo match. Today, this young couple had brought their dog, a your and lively creature. The dog chased the tejo, which is a heavy iron disk, but naturally could not grab it. Each time a mecha exploded, the dog ran outside - but then soon returned.

Here you go!

'Go get it, boy!'

I'm gonna catch me a tejo yet!

 By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Military March for Congress

During a bike tour today, we crossed paths with these unusual political marchers: ex-soldiers running for Congress.

One man told us that they had 10 candidates this year: 'We're going to run the government,' he predicted.

A military-run government might be a disturbing idea for many, particularly in a nation whose military has directly carried out or colluded with horrendous human rights violations, most notoriously the 'false positives' scandal, in which military units killed thousands of young men and disguised them as guerrillas in order to earn time off and bonuses. Colombia's military also supported paramilitary units which committed terrorism against civilians, including massacring villagers with chainsaws.

Soldiers want to be tried in their own military courts, she said.
Which is not to say that the military has not also played a valuable role, such as extending rule of law over parts of Colombia and protecting civilians from illegal armed groups, or that it should not have a voice in society. But in a country of laws and democracy, the military should be subordinate to civilian authorities.

Colombia's military is understandably uneasy about the peace treaty with the FARC guerrillas, which gives guerrillas a slap on the risk for sometimes horrific crimes, as well as eight seats in Congress. The peace agreement also provides near impunity for many guerrilla crimes, including narcotrafficking, as long as they were done in furtherance of the guerrillas' revolutionary ends. Ex-FARC leader Timochenko is now campaigning for the presidency, altho he has no chance of winning.

Military leaders may want to run their own candidates in order to counterbalance the ex-guerrilla politicians.
'We're going to run the country,' he boasted to us.

Soldiers are also fearful that the peace treaty could mean punishing soldiers for war-related crimes while guerrillas get off scot-free. That's why one young woman accompanying the march told us that the soldiers want to be tried for crimes in military rather than civilian courts. But human rights advocates say that soldiers should be tried in civilian courts for crimes not related to the conflict, such as sexual violence.

Marching along 26th Street.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours