Bullet in Bogotá graffiti artist´s back the price of youthful, political expression
They´re waging a paint war on the white walls of Popayán, the colonial backdrop for the many religious processions that make their way through the streets during Semana Santa celebrations this week.
Small groups of masked persons, carrying spray paint cans repeatedly used the cover of recent political and labour marches to splash their political messages over the pristine stage, set for religious celebration.
Wars fought with paint are always better than those fought with weapons, but masks the demonstrators wear show the risks they accept by taking a spray paint can in hand. Graffiti artists are sometimes chased by violent people, including the police.
Chances are they have all heard the name of Bogotá teenager, Diego Felipe Becerra.
Becerra was 16 when he was shot in the back from close range in August 2011, apparently by a police officer. Police say they were chasing a gang of delinquents which had attacked a bus.
Neither his family, nor apparently the prosecutors bought that story. This appears to be a case where suspected police violence is being investigated and prosecuted.
International pressure is sometimes helpful when seeking justice in Colombia. In this instance, the United Nations Office for Human Rights sent a letter to prosecutors demanding that justice be done.
The national newspaper, El Espectador, reported last month that five persons: three police officers, a lawyer and a bus driver now are facing charges related to falsifying evidence in connection with the investigation of the death of Becerra.
Prosecutors, however, say they now are being threatened.
Becerra’s father noted the threats began when charges were prepared against police.
It’s encouraging that justice can potentially be done when a police officer is accused of shooting a teenager, armed only with a can of spray paint, in the back.
Every protester with a can of spraypaint in hand and a political slogan in mind must give at least a passing thought to the violence they might face when they take to streets, their political stage.
Most reporting on this death has been done in Spanish. Below I shall include two links for stories in Spanish:
Below is the link for an article in English-language, Colombia Reports: