Bogota comedian puts on stand up show to denounce humanitarian crisis in northern Colombia

Posted on Aug 25 2014 - 2:33pm by Today News
Alejandro Riaño

Rather than pay money to see his stand-up show, Bogota comedian Alejandro Riaño is asking his audience to barter for their tickets by bringing towels, blankets, and diapers if they want to see him perform in Colombia’s capital this week.

These household items are on a list of what the comedian believes constitute the basic needs of the people of La Guajira, an impoverished state in northern Colombia where an ongoing humanitarian crisis has been largely ignored by the Colombian government.

The predominantly desert territory faces a maelstrom of problems such as drought, corruption, and lack of transportation infrastructure.

According to data presented by Senator and former governor of La Guajira Jorge Ballesteros, 2,969 children have died in the past six years, 278 from starvation, and 2,691 from other largely preventable diseases  Of the child deaths, 98.5%  were indigenous, and 62.5%  occurred in under one year.

MORE: ‘We need help;’ north Colombia children starving to death

To denounce this crisis and gather much-needed supplies to give to the people of La Guajira, Riaño told Colombia Reports that he will be performing his critically acclaimed stand-up routine, “Every Kid and their Ticket” at The Castellana National Theater in Bogota on August 27 and 28.

During the routine, Riaño takes his audience on an imaginary bus ride through Colombia’s capital, making various stops along the way to reflect upon some peculiar aspects of Colombian culture and the frustrations of everyday life, and to make fun of Bogata’s airs of superiority.

For Riaño, it is important to call attention to the dire situation in La Guajira because “people are donating the occasional bottle of water, but that’s not enough. [La Guajira] affects everyone. We’re all Colombians. We need to do what we can to help those in need.”

Donating money would be of little use as corruption is rife throughout La Guajira just as it is in most of Colombia.

MORE: Mismanagement of public funds fueling famine in northern Colombia: Senator

“I wouldn’t be satisfied with donating money because if we were to give $15,000, they [public officials] would put $1,500 aside for “helping” the people and pocket the rest. In Colombia, there’s not only war and it’s not only petty thieves that steal from us; the very politicians of this country are robbing us,” said Riaño.

According to Senator and former governor of La Guajira Jorge Ballesteros, the state of La Guajira already receives millions in government resources each year, but only around 30% actually reaches the desert communities.

MORE: Santos visits starving communities in Colombia’s ‘richest’ state

After Wednesday evening’s show, Riaño will take stock of the donations to see if he needs to do another show to collect enough to for his trip to La Guajira. Once he has gathered enough goods needed by Guajiros to “live a dignified life,” Riaño will travel by truck with the Red Cross to La Guajira to distribute the items and personally document the situation.

In order to barter your goods for a ticket to see Riaño perform, you must go to Fanny Mikey Theatre (calle 71 # 10-25) in Bogota between the hours of 9AM and 6PM, Monday through Sunday.

Riaño’s official list of items for barter:

• Blankets
• Linen
• Mats
• Pillows
• Hammocks
• Bath towels (adults and children)
• Sanitary wipes (at least 2 packs of 20 wipes each)
• Toilet paper (minimum package x 12 rolls)
• Bath soap (minimum 9 units)
• Laundry powder (minimum 9 units)
• Dish-washing liquid (minimum 9 units)
• Pots
• Pans
• Baby Shampoo (minimum 1 unit or 2 units 400 ml 200 ml)
• anti-diaper rash cream (minimum 6 units)
• Diapers (minimum 20 diapers).
• First-aid kit (bandages, dressings, isodine foam and/or solution, disinfectant soap, thermometer and gloves)

La Guajira

Sources

  • Interview with Alejandro Riaño (Colombia Reports)

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