Bomb severs transporation links between Popayán and Cali


Stay in Popayán long enough and sooner or later your connection to the world slips away, whether it be severed by bombs, blockades, or earthquakes.

(Foto: Twitter @miguelantvelasc) Popayán is sometimes cut off from Colombia and the rest of the world by bombs, blockades or natural disasters. Popayán relies on the narrow, winding PanAmerican Highway to connect with its neighbours to the north and to the south.

(Foto: Twitter @miguelantvelasc) Popayán is sometimes cut off from Colombia and the rest of the world by bombs, blockades or natural disasters. Popayán relies on the narrow, winding PanAmerican Highway to connect with its neighbours to the north and to the south.

This time, once again, it´s a bomb.

One hundred kilos of explosives last night blasted apart a small bridge on the Pan-American Highway near Santander de Quilichao, where the highway drops down from the steep Andean mountain slopes to the sugar-cane covered fields of the Cauca Valley. The military is blaming the FARC guerrrillas. They usually do.

The explosion was about midway between Popayán and Cali, on the highway that connects Popayán and the southern Andean mountains to rest of Colombia. Small vehicles – no buses nor trucks, but some ambulances – skirted slowly around the bomb crater on Tuesday.

Guerrillas from time-to-time blow up the bridges to the north and south of Popayán. Last year soldiers guarding the remains of another bridge delighted in informing me that the large gap in the centre of a bridge I walked across was the result of another FARC bomb. They suggested I get off the road before dark, then resumed guarding the remains of the bridge.

About this time last year the coffee strike shut Popayán down for about two weeks, with blockades on both sides of the Spanish-colonial, regional capital. First fruit and vegetables disappeared from store shelves, then baked goods and meat. Gas was smuggled in, can by can on the back of motorcycles over bumpy mountain backroads.

To the north, a blown up bridge and to the south a car bomb, which did not block the Pan-American Highway.

To the north, a blown up bridge and to the south a car bomb, which did not block the Pan-American Highway.

Back in 1999, Popayán was locked down for almost a month, during a strike by campesinos. Newspapers, television and radio repeated the government line, that the city was under siege by the FARC guerrillas. Better to paint the desperate agricultural workers as “guerrillas” and “terrorists” than recognize them and their issues. Tonnes of food were flown into the city´s airport during that strike.

As Semana Santa celebrations approach, Popayán residents are reminded that natural events dwarf the disruptive efforts of people who blockade and bomb. These are the Andes, and from time to time they move about. They frequently cause landslides and earthquakes. Almost 31 years ago, on Easter Sunday, the Popayán earthquake killed more than 300 persons and left thousands homeless.

Just another reminder that in these mountains if you´ve got somewhere to go, go today. Tomorrow it might not be possible.

For more information please read:

In English: http://lnweb90.worldbank.org/oed/oeddoclib.nsf/DocUNIDViewForJavaSearch/E3A9992C422FA7B1852567F5005D875B

En Español: http://www.elespectador.com/noticias/judicial/atentado-via-panamericana-tiene-incomunicado-al-occiden-articulo-484146

And more photos: http://www.caracol.com.co/multimedia/fotogalerias/asi-quedo-la-via-destruida-por-atentado-guerrillero/20140401/fotogaleria/2156139.aspx#

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About Connecting Colombias

Recently retired newspaper reporter with one foot in British Columbia, Canada, the other in Colombia, South America. Fascinated with Colombian culture, Canadian connections, and heroic efforts to return millions of displaced Colombians to lands stolen by paramilitaries, guerrillas and organized crime.

2 responses to “Bomb severs transporation links between Popayán and Cali”

  1. colombiadiaries says :

    I remember seeing soldiers guarding a bridge piled high with sand bags in that area last year, I don’t know if it was the same one. As you know, Popayán is a lovely town with a pretty main square set against a dramatic snow covered volcano and if you can avoid landslides, bombs and blockades it is well worth a visit. Sad to hear about this latest bomb. Interesting to pull all the history together as you’ve done here to give an overview of the issues faced by this beautiful but troubled town.

    • Connecting Colombias says :

      It is a beautiful town, especially now as it spruces itself up for Semana Santa. They’re selling a lot of white paint in this town. As pretty as it is the conflict is pretty rugged these days. More families displaced by conflict are arriving in Popayán each day.

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