“La Violencia” was a decade of fierce political violence that began in 1946 and unleashed much lawlessness and bloodshed. By 1960, it had claimed 200,000 lives.

In March 1946, just prior to the presidential elections that formally gave birth to the violence, President Alberto Lleras addressed the Society of Agriculturists. He said: “When we speak, for example, of the majorities who make up the democratic system, or of mass opinion, what are we talking about?

Are we talking about the will of all Colombians, or just small, ardent urban groups that hear and speak the political language of more homogenous, compact civilizations? And when we refer to campaigns of rural health, credit or education that are going to save the campesino, don’t we know that at the most these programs reach (only) the villages and the upper echelons of Colombian society?

And when we speak of increases in salaries, or better commodity prices, do we speak for higher wages for agricultural laborers or higher prices for his product in the marketplace? No. Among the seventy percent of our (rural-dwelling) fellows citizens and the rest of society, there is no contact, there are no roads, there are no channels of direct interchange. Fifteen minutes from Bogotá, there are campesinos who belong to another age, to another social class and culture, separated from us by centuries.”

His remarks are evidence of how little progress there has been since then; sadly, his words continue to be relevant today.

Source: Talking About Colombia