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Episode 18: Margarita’s Transcript

Alex  0:08

Welcome to the Community Conversations with Alex and Nadine brought to you by Baserange. On this podcast we discuss topics from education and women's rights to racial inequality to sustainability within the clothing industry, and how it affects our planet and much, much more. With these conversations. Our goal is to highlight each other's humanity and make this world a better place for everyone.


Dydine Umunyana 0:29

Thank you, and today we have a wonderful special guest a wonderful friend, Margarita from Colombia, and we were so excited to bring her story her communities a story her country's story to you as a special listeners. And so welcome, welcome Margarita. Well, thank


Margarita 0:50

you so much for having this is a treat to be


Alex  0:54

now it's a pleasure to have you to have you on our show here. And I feel I haven't spoken to you. We met last year. Yes, yeah. That was back in 2012. Yeah, breathing Yeah, I went to the I have to remember the name of the fillable the syllable Yes, yeah. And unfortunately the Dean you couldn't be the we spoke to be there during that particular event, but it was it was great to being immersed in that culture and once I knew that, you were you were taking care of. It was amazing. Just all the people we got I got to meet and again in the culture. I just, I What's the what's the word? I ingrained myself I just sort of enveloped myself and everything would it was a little nerve wracking. But it was I think one of the best decisions. Yeah, that we had we had made being absolutely


Dydine Umunyana 1:54

absolutely, absolutely like because when you're about to travel to countries that have had a history of wars for decades and decades. People have different ideas of how the country looks like and the experiences and so until you're there yourself, you really don't know


Margarita 2:14

exactly. People say okay, you're not going to going to arrive to the airport and they're going to be squats killing you.


Dydine Umunyana 2:20

Right, right. Yes, they don't understand. And so that was really a wonderful experience for me though. I got you know, the point I don't know that but I, I came and I came back this year, and we had a wonderful time. But I learned so much, so much about not all of it but the history of Columbia. And I was honored to have someone like you who has been working your Colombia but also the work that you've been doing as a journalist as a filmmaker. You you get to be at places where probably most Colombians don't have that opportunity to be in. And so when we came on here, the first thing you said was like you know what it was doing? The inauguration. Can you please tell us what was your How was your day? Okay, so


Margarita 3:11

today for the first time in 59 years of the existence of a guerrilla Oklahoma is this live or can I start over again? We're recording so I just came from a ceremony of integration of a ceasefire between the Colombian government and the elf that is the National Liberation Army this a 59 year old guerrilla stablished in 1964. In the heat of the Cuban revolution, of the Marxist expansion of ideas in the world and so on, and Colombia has this incredibly long war and it has started version going down you know, bits by bits. And just talking about the guerrilla war with this would be the last rebel group that is active. We have many other groups that are not political groups, but Coco, then cookie traffic, and so on. So he's, I was there and I saw so many people it was full full of the communities where the war is still a play, that are basically indigenous indigenous communities, Afro Colombian communities in the borders of the country because basically that the country has kind of like stablish, or the steak governs most of the center. Yeah, but the borders meaning the Pacific or the border with Venezuela, the border with Ecuador that is basically very jungly are still at war and that's where some some of the places where those communities who have been affected the most in the conflict are and the auditorium was full, like 500 people were there from communities from those types of communities, so it was very moving. And also this hope when you have a long war, you're always thinking that it's going to be another this solution. This solution isn't really not going to stop. So and now for example, the International Red Cross says that economic they're like six other groups that are not politically motivated, but that control territory and control rents, as they say, which is the traffic or illegal mining. So going to this this is this would be the last story Law Group in Latin America, which was full of guerrilla groups from Mexico to Chile. with the notable exception of Costa Rica, all of them hacker groups, and it has the last one, so no matter you know, like, not not an ideal situation, but it's like it's a slow advancement to reach into, almost like community by community.


Dydine Umunyana 6:20

I know. I know. It's the first step a step towards what you guys have been looking for for for a very long, a very, very long time. Yeah, yeah, it feels


Alex  6:30

and the thing that kind of jumped out to me was just how much of a process it is to reach this idea of peace. We all have. It is it's so much more complicated a lot of times than we like to assume. Yeah, but it doesn't mean it's not possible. It just means there there usually are more steps involved than you know, the mean generally will consider


Margarita 7:00

Absolutely, absolutely. Is that the experts say that war is, is you're making worse a lot easier than making peace and it's so undervalued, like pizza we should be like oh from spiritual people, religious people. Ladies and you know, like the tough guys we are in. But it takes so much cord to me. It takes bravery to sit down to people have word that you have heard and that they have hurt you or your people.


Dydine Umunyana 7:35

Unimaginable. It is it is. Yeah. understated. Yes. Especially those who choose to do that, that those are special kinds of people who are like yes I was hurt. Yes, my community was hurt. But we have to we have to cut this cycle and we cannot keep circling around the same thing that we've done for many, many years. And that takes me to a question for some for people who don't know Margarita. And now probably I actually don't even know how was how was it for you growing up in Colombia. In your childhood what what are what are your earliest memories?


Margarita 8:21

Well, because the war was not really in the cities when I was a child for, for example, my father's side of the family's phone cut by him which is a colonial port in the Caribbean. And it was so peaceful. You could go out anytime by yourself at night I remember was 14 or something and it was like a dancing place. nearby. He could go no one would say oh no, you have to go with someone who was you know, we're, you know, teenagers and we just were and come back ourselves and no one thought that was dangerous. But then when I was in starting college, the the narco war came through the cities and follows car start bombing, but with them especially, and attacking policemen all over the country. He offered 1 million pesos which is I don't know like $200 per, per policeman that someone killed. Yeah, I remember going to university and saying, Oh, there's another bombing. There's another bombing. Not so nearby. I would this popularization about your score. And you know that it's kind of glamorous, and like a Robin Hood or something.


Dydine Umunyana 9:39

Think Yeah,


Margarita 9:40

yeah, yeah. You I mean, it's good for TV, but it's not good for real life.


Dydine Umunyana 9:45

No, no,


Margarita 9:46

I didn't live in the countryside. So I I especially in the south, that war is very long as you know, has been pressing for a long time. And then other parts of the country started getting involved little by little, when, for example, the Caribbean was, you know, this place where people really enjoy life and death and war. It was not in their, in their history or what they had or they were what they love, you know what they have experienced? And they are the paramilitary groups. So the guerrilla started going also in the north, and therefore permanent type groups that were financed, but the narcos the big cattle ranchers, and they create an army that displaced and killed I think the number of these internally displaced people is 8 million in 45, millions so basically, most of the countryside suffered heavily, heavily, heavily. And there are places where, you know, one or three people have been a victim or their family have been basically renames where everybody was deeply intimate, personally by the war.


Dydine Umunyana 10:59

Yeah, yeah. That's Have you always lived in the in the Columbia.


Margarita 11:09

Well, I live that I had a scholarship. So I went to starting my master's degree at Columbia City at the journalism school. So that was amazing. And I'm really thankful for that scholarship because that really changed my life. That opportunity.


Dydine Umunyana 11:23

How was it for you to you know, to have grown grown up like that with a country that was torn by war and having the opportunity to be outside of the country and hearing how the country is talked about or the the experience of outside people How did you like get to learn more about your own country when you were outside? How was the bad experience for you looking from outside in?


Margarita 11:50

Well, one thing is, you know, you always are ashamed because people say, oh, so are you bringing drugs so you're the cocaine people. So there's always this much.


Alex  12:02

In people you've been referred to as the cocaine person to cocaine people.


Margarita 12:07

Well, just recently, like a couple years ago, I went someplace in in Europe and some person I said, also, where are you from Africa. I was like Oh, so you bring some cocaine. You cocaine people. So yeah, so basically, it's um, yeah, it makes you feel so uncomfortable.


Dydine Umunyana 12:24

I can't I can't imagine. I can imagine. From all of that was there. What was the moment where you knew you wanted to do storytelling and tell the story because they, you know, I know you tell stories that are very difficult to tell, and to even reach and you putting yourself in those positions. When was the moment where you knew you wanted to? To be a journalist wanted to be a filmmaker wanted to tell stories?


Margarita 12:51

Well, I went to college and basically I didn't know what to do. But I was doing all circling around and when I graduated, I started working in the ministry of foreign affairs, like department of state economy, and I'm like, Oh, I don't want to be this. But I had an opportunity to go with the with with the work at Bolivia and Peru and I'm like, what I want to do is how this peasant communities live, and so I started applying to journalism jobs and they say no, well, you don't have no experience. But you know, I was 2425. So, so I applied for a scholarship apply for for the journalism school. And finally, Guardian, worked for NBC New York for for a year now that they let you work and then I wonder is there was this opportunity to stay or not? I thought, I'm not saying and that was their hard decision because it was 1999 and the worst recession in Colombia, and it was basically a failed state, the parallel one region, the others, the software that took the two main groups groups control other regions. Disaster, but I felt, you know, I really love this country. That meaning since it's so great, how wonderful but this is not my story. So I decided, no, I'm going back. So I applied for a job at the Associated Press in Bogota. And that's where I started with a people with that. covered for seven years. Some of the most, some of the one of the high high points of this war, where the where the massacres were massive, where the kidnappings were massive. Were were there was a huge humanitarian crisis of the war, and I felt that my work was so important. Absolutely, when I felt like oh, you know, I'm so indispensable here. It's always an exaggeration, or whatever, but I felt like you know, that he had money to travel, all the newspapers and all the meeting going I was broke because of that kind of situation. And I felt that I had the opportunity to be a witness of it. And I really serious, seriously. So that's sort of my my first love or my, my first love or my my biggest love of having been all over Colombia in in a in a time of very, very, very difficult.


Alex  15:20

twitches. Yeah. Yeah. That's something that's very interesting. And it makes me think, because I was I was born in Texas and in the States. I was born in the early 90s. I don't there's not much that is happening. I'm not sure I'm not trying to put a date on anybody. But it's just it makes it makes people I think a lot of people I can speak for a lot of people in that. We don't really have a lot of a concept of what it means to be in a country or state or continent that is like that is filled with going to war that there's a certain amount of existentialism that we have to sort of Yeah, put


Dydine Umunyana 16:08

you know, that's the first thing I realized here in the US. The war in the US happens outside the US us go to war, but it's outside of us. So the puppet population of the United States people don't experience that war. They hear about it, maybe the military is going to experience that but civilians yeah people everyday people don't get to be affected firsthand. And so that's that's the that's one of the things I realized I was different from, you know, like back home in Rwanda going through genocide. If you're just a civilian, you've still experienced the war and genocide and and as you were speaking, as well, it just done. It's the same thing. The war is happening between the guerrillas and the government, but it's also affecting the civilians because everything is happening within within the country. No one is immune from it.


Margarita 17:05

No one is immune. And no, not even asked in the cities. Now, of course, the cities are a different thing. But I mean, there are many problems here, but one is the political problem, because this is one of the two or three more unequal countries of Latin America as a very unequal society. And they had been rebel groups and so they wanted to change that situation. For example, land, land, land property. 1% of the people own I think it's 89% or 70 89%. Of all the land all the productive lands in Colombia. Yes. So it's such a disparity in the the property of the land and the property of who who can have access to resources to places to opportunities and so on. That. That's like the political situation. And the other one is the international situation we have. Colombia is a big producer of cocaine, and that has fueled all the rebel groups and the paramilitary groups that was that were formed to defeat the rebel groups and with big help with the army. They were collided with the birth, and so they all got financed by the drug war, because if the drugs are illegal, that's a great business. We indirectly Oh, actually very dire in a very direct way. We will live and suffer the consequences of declaring.


Alex  18:46

Right, yeah, right. Yeah. And that's in that something you mentioned. Pablo Escobar. Here in the States, you may be aware of the show Narcos on Netflix. Yes. I watched that show, I think probably when it came out, but 10 years ago or so. And I didn't know anything about my dad. He didn't know much outside of what they told us to learn in public school. Yeah. But you're right. And in that there is a portrayal about like the Robin Hood, like he's only there's glamorized portrayal of him and the actor who played him. Think seems very charismatic, very charming, and it's like, wow, maybe, maybe he wasn't as charming, you know, because maybe what we've heard about him has been,


Margarita 19:36

I mean, people are complex, you know, and he really cared. He came from a humble family and he cared about the people who suffered and in this country, well just I just go to the land. The land statistic it's it's gross, you know, how can almost 1% Cast almost all the land but this


Dydine Umunyana 19:56

Yeah, it's it's like shameful source it is. It is. It's shameful when leaving that when in accepted and feel like it's the right way of leaving when everyone around you is suffering. And you have an abundance of things that you have. Yeah, yeah. And you're not even using it because I'm sure if it's 1%. That means most of those loans are not even being used,


Margarita 20:20

and there had been reformed trying land reform. This is probably the only country that there hasn't been land reform in Latin America, where they say okay, you cannot have either you pay very high taxes or we're gonna kit take it away from you the land that you are not using or until this amount, but here, I mean, one of the reasons the main reason that historically the guerrillas have said that they formed and are created and actually continue is because they want peasants to have access to the land. So of course, part of the squad was into something and of course, he tried to people but in my case, particularly, I wasn't that nice to go to college everyday because here you don't go to like a university town. You still so so you go, you know, like 45 minutes back and forth or whatever, and you go to school and that was like a dangerous thing to do. Yeah, you don't know where or when the bombing was going to.


Dydine Umunyana 21:24


And growing with that fear to like, well, it shapes


Alex  21:29

you in it, especially at the younger age college. College aged kids. Yeah, that will back that has an impact on how they view adulthood and how they view and how they interact with the world. Yeah, yeah. The job market and the sort of work that you do. People. Yeah, right.


Dydine Umunyana 21:51



Alex  21:53

And that makes me think so. Last year, when I had gone to Colombia, we had gone to one of Ventura. And so correct me if I'm wrong, but that's one of the biggest are I think more the port city like one of the most important port cities in all of Colombia. But if you when you go there, it's so poor, it's absolutely there. There are no resources no given very little resources given to you.


Margarita 22:20

Nothing stays there. They just leave all the richness goal is nothing there. Nothing. I mean, yeah. It's so unfair. That's why you think why does this this war lasts so long? Why they haven't made changes. Why has taken, for example, left us leaders have been killed. Community leaders, regional leaders, presidential candidates that not even left but that are the ones like a fair share for everybody in the society get killed. For me. I mean, 1989 that you weren't born? Yeah. Presidential candidates for for can you imagine by the right wing forces in alliance with part of the part of the government. So structural changes have been very have been almost impossible to me. And in two years ago, we had this huge after COVID We had this huge demonstrations and so on. And that was two years ago at last year for the first time in 200 years of being a republic. We had a leftist president, we don't know if he's gonna be able to make changes or not. Yeah,


Dydine Umunyana 23:42

we want to find someone that was the first the first time in 200 years that you had left this President. Yes. And the power was handed over peacefully, smooth.


Margarita 23:57

Well, I probably now because they kill them kill and kill and kill all the leftists or even centrist candidate. But in small towns, immediate cities and other people who aren't people who are running for the national government. Yes. So they kill so many, just one party that was that is called on your patriotic up 303,000 of its members of this Communist Party for 3000 Just in that part. So then you say well, why do is have this ongoing eternal war because it's not changed. People feel like okay, why? I mean, why would I put down my arms and my weapons if nothing changes? So with this massive strikes and so on, I think that leads thought that maybe this time they were not they had to give a chance to these other people. And maybe we'll see what happens. Lots of scandals and lots of well, I get sometimes depression that they they're new to power, you know,


Dydine Umunyana 25:06

yeah. That was you speaking and we're talking all the things that the people that have been assassinated, and I'm thinking about your job as a journalist, big because I'm a film filmmaker. I remember when we were imaging us we were we're screening of your documentary, like Leonard goosey. Ilana London Gaussian blur because you um, and was a very informative, well documented documentary like really like the axis for me when I was watching everyone think I've told you what I thought about was that our emotions were everywhere. But the access to both the government to the FARC guerrillas and how you were able to tune to film the whole process to peace and stay safe for me the whole time was imagining how fine that must have been, you know, knowing that you're all going to expose information that not most people have access on, but it can also change the your country's history, because you probably didn't know that it was gonna go through when you start filming it. You know,


Margarita 26:24

actually, it's not. Most of that time. I was like five I don't want a year. This is not going to happen. Well, I didn't actually i I felt very safe in that filming that because it wasn't kind of on and they were they were negotiating, you know I was up but when I covered and fill in that in Colombia then I know that then is different over there you know it was even though it was the hardest thing I have ever done because there's nothing hard hardest that people who hate each other tried to negotiate. Yeah, that includes who wants you to be filmed? Try to make concessions to your eternal enemies and things that you say today then maybe in a year it's gonna consider to be a treason and so on. So it was very hard. But I had been a filmmaker to journalists for almost 20 years, for 20 years, almost 20 years. I had, like the conscience that it was important to have to have a document of what happened and how it happened. And also the enemies and can have an agreement and that that changes the lives of the people on the ground. Yeah, so that was the thing that kept me going. Like if, if this goes through, and I this is a lesson for the world and for the other parts of Colombia that still think that talking to your enemies is it's better to get killed and killed forever than talking to them. So I'm important.


Dydine Umunyana 28:10

Yes, absolutely. And and even I applied for you to be able to stay objective because that was an A story of your own country, your own people as they are the story is unfolding and and just being able to stay professional to stay you know, not feel emotionally you know you've gone through so much you've seen so much with all the work you've done. And this face thing you know, like you said the enemy and just be able to talk or let them fail or their emotions to you and stay objective. Not be so I think that was very special for me when I was watching it.


Margarita 28:52

It was really hard to do that. And I don't know, you know, but I always thought when I was doing it, and with my emotions and my own prejudices and everything. I thought this cannot be a pamphlet I cannot get in 10 years and he told myself well how you know emotional and I was no I need to I need to least the best testimony I can on how this agreement with the most violent and feared guerrilla the FARC that has so many sins, like killing people out of combat just so the soldiers could go on vacation or you know that stablished body count as a measure of, of success and with that measure of moving up the ladder and so on. I mean two sides that had so many SIDS crimes clients. Yes. That they can say okay, let's stop. Let's see how we can work this app. Oh, thank you Phoebe.


Dydine Umunyana 29:59

And I remember one of the the word that I wish I hope people will have watching or listening. Please find the document we can either link of the document. Also English subtitles to watch. And it feels like you're in a journey with everyone like everything has its unfolding. And I remember the president of the time is that I think the scent sentence. Yes. Yes. When he was in the car he said I do not have Plan B when the first and that was so emotional for me. It was you know, when you're so helpful, and you don't want anything else you want peace and then when he stayed there with all his emotions, like I thought it was going to work and that made people ready for peace. And I didn't have Plan B that made it even more real because as you're filming you don't know and as him going through it as well. You don't know the outcome. Yeah, you don't know. So yes, great


Alex  31:05

unknown that you're that's very interesting. And I of course I haven't seen the film yet. But I can just imagine what that would feel like in that he's convicted convicted and that this is the only thing that yeah, that we have. That's what we're going for. Yeah. And we don't know how it's going to work out. But in his mind, he's like this. This is this is what's going to happen one way or another and that has like a ripple effect. For everybody. Absolutely. Especially people who are who are recording


Dydine Umunyana 31:36

I'm wondering who was the people recording what did you think was gonna happen?


Margarita 31:42

Did you think was gonna work? No, no, well, no, I was up. Do you mean the plebiscite? No, I thought I mean,


Dydine Umunyana 31:48

yes and no. But yes,


Margarita 31:51

yes. And myself and my like small circle, but for example, my mother voted against it. Because because there was a huge opposition. But not what they want, you know, they one by one, less than 1% of the votes, but they want Yes, and for example, my mother said they don't deserve to be to have immunity. They don't deserve to have amnesty. They don't deserve to just come along as like nothing had happened. They face prison and the longtime prison. They don't deserve anything accountability. Yes. But my mother says she lives in the citizen is not so aware of how the army and the paramilitaries that are that, in many ways were part of the army or collaborated with the army had destroyed and destroyed towns, massacres, killings, et cetera, et cetera, to get rid suppose we get rid of the girls but later, take the mines take the oil, and of course, it's starting in in those regions, them the coca leaf production. People from some cities was very, I mean, basically there was a map that show who who, who voted yes and who voted no. And the people who have suffered the war by enormous norm numbers, they voted for the end of the war with the FARC in the cities, you know, I'm Taj and having this intellectual conversations of amnesty and justice and so on, voted against it. It's also when the countries are so have lost their links you know, have lost some people see a reality that others those don't live.


Dydine Umunyana 33:38

Right I see. I see what yeah, that's, that's Yeah. Yeah. And that's how even in the wheel in the whole world, that's how we are the disconnects of us. Yes, that's how we are in this war in the country nearby. And you just keep going your life is fine and people are dying, you know, and we have this disconnect that if you're doing well, that's all the matters. Yeah. Yeah. That grows and it ends up you know, getting to all of us. It's like, a combined virus, you know? Yeah, yeah.


Alex  34:14

So I guess that's kind of the undertone of my question, or my comment rather about me growing up in the states and not Well, yeah. But you know, it's okay. Because, again, a lot of people like myself don't have a lot of first hand experience with, with, like, how the real effects of conflict in war and violence. Yeah, there are isolated moments. Yeah, of course, every day everywhere in the shootings. Yeah, but


Margarita 34:47

not every Yeah, not for decades. For example, to the states and I, because there are lots of displaced people. There was a moment where the common criminal and petty crimes in the cities became so big, because we received millions of people into the cities. And just to think, I think from Mexico to at least Bolivia, I don't know how it's in Chile or Argentina, that you walk on the streets are not safe. And that's feeling of walking in this, you know, walking on the street and looking who's behind you all the time. Then when I go abroad, and like there's no need, like there's no one behind you, but that's the


Alex  35:39

there's a general trusting the person who you don't know, you see behind you, then your friend that they're not doing it right.


Dydine Umunyana 35:46

You trust the people you don't know they're looking for, you know, right,


Margarita 35:49

right. All the time like this, like this, you know, behind.


Alex  35:54

Well, I'm kind of like that as well. My dad was a little bit. My dad was a police officer. And so I think he taught me the core awareness. Yeah. spatial awareness. I call it chord awareness when we have without not not training. Yeah, it's inherent. Yeah, yes. I'm curious. And I'm going to try to format this coming toward this question, the best of my ability, but in the work that you've done as a filmmaker, as a journalist, and just existing and living in these I don't want to say extreme but just these environments. Very Yeah. You're very aware of people and you understand the human condition and how people operate. Under differing circumstances. How has your work, um, shaped your perspective on humanity? Like when you go abroad, and you go to the States, and you see kind of us kind of like, heads in the clouds or without much more? Yeah, a lot of times. Yeah, I mean, how do you what do you see and I feel like you have a certain idea of certain truths in life that you understand. Yeah. And so how would you, I don't want to compare


Margarita 37:07

it with other places but places with war. And because I came back from the US in 1999, and from that, being a filmmaker effing a journalist for The Associated Press, and then a filmmaker leader, and of meeting so many people who are involved in horror, doing horrible things. Yeah. And then of this thing of, then they're out of war and they seem perfectly normal, nice considering. And also going to many places in Colombia or, for example, film, a documentary school, la Sierra, and it was show on PBS and BBC and it was we went to many festivals and so on, and it was in the neighborhood in managing or meddling Jeremy Dean already knows it. Oh, yeah.


Dydine Umunyana 37:59

I know I'm


Margarita 38:01

worldly. So in a very poor neighborhood, dominated that by gangs that were articulated to with the National paramilitaries and we follow two people, three very young people. One was the leader of the gang paramilitary, very charismatic, lovely person who have killed so many of the other gang members, you know, a rival gangs and so on. And then this thing that I asked myself like, what if I have been in this place? Would I have would not have not done that? Would I have been so so wise and not carry myself and not let it be carried by, by hate not literally carried by? By fear or by vengeance, and so on? Because in the little town, I don't have to question myself because I'm above this, this the daily life of the war in the countryside or places I have been heavily affected by the war. Yeah, but when I'm filming there, I'm always asking myself what would I have done? Or have done because i don't i My answer is that I'm not above anything. No, you know, and for example, for me, I've known this girl FARC rebels since I was a journalist, there was a third attempt of peace in the beginning of this century. And they were, you know, in their 40s. I mean, the the commanders were, they are now dead. But let's say that was that sign that piece, or let's say the 40s have been already like 20 years of war had been the Communist parties and so on. Are they going to guerrilla warfare in the countryside and so on? And they really believe that and then, a long war, Adam over a short law of a long war, destroys everything. There's no way that you don't come in all kinds of atrocities. Yeah. And then I see them and I they are so considered, and they are so common sense. And then when I talked to them when they were warriors, I thought they really were out of their mind. And they understand really anything and with those weapons, we just had to sort of surrender to them or try to kill them or what is what we had to do as a country. Yeah, yeah. No, the same was the political structures. You know, like, I, I got sure if political, I mean, is this thing like, what do you do with the structures that are structures that that contribute to the hate structures that contribute to corruption structures that contribute to inequality as structured, as it is said that countries are is is a puzzle, and so many, so many of its key? What's the name of the key?


Dydine Umunyana 41:11

McHugh holders always


Margarita 41:13

have the puzzle are in such a bad shape. You cannot you cannot have a peaceful country. So


Alex  41:22

the foundation of it is already


Dydine Umunyana 41:26

compromised. Yeah.


Margarita 41:28

It's like it's terrible. So I I don't know I have sometimes I myself say Okay, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? I don't have a clear answer. Because when you go to too many sites, you're like, Okay, what, what is this? What happened here? To find out not only the feelings and the decisions that people made, but what is the structural part of the country that contributes to that? Yeah, I'm not answering but


Dydine Umunyana 42:00

actually, yeah, go


Alex  42:02

ahead. Well, no, I agree. I mean, it was it's a bit isn't it? So that is that's the perfect answer. And yeah, I think the point here is that people and like you said earlier Margarita is that people are very complex. Yeah. And that question, who's the good guy who's the bad guy? We all have some sliver of good and bad and every single one of us and but when you put someone in a particular situation that is very trying, and you are forced to survive, and you're forced to do things that you would prefer not to do regularly or you prefer not to have a past, you could speak to it as well to deem you would not want to have a past that. You know, it's maybe a bit shameful to speak about or whatever, but how does someone how do you survive as a person? What does it do to the psychology? What does that do to your mind? And what does it do to the survival instinct?


Margarita 42:56

Yeah, so you have it scares me how much the beliefs really take you beyond what is normal common sense? Yeah. Just basics of humanity. And, and, and some beliefs. And so this thing sort of changes people so much


Dydine Umunyana 43:16

yes. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. In the twisted believes that, especially for things inserted in a young mind. It's very difficult for that young mind who's been taught you know, to hate has been taught like, you know, killing somebody is like normalized in their lives. Like you mentioned, those, those young, three men. They're charismatic, they're nice, they're everything. But also they've been taught that that person's life and doesn't mean anything you if you kill them, you can keep going and be in a band also dance and sing at the same in the evening and that and you're conscious is clean.


Margarita 43:55

Yeah. normalization and like naturalization, or violence. Yeah. In this country. It's


Dydine Umunyana 44:04

scary. It is Do you with all the things you've worked on and your life experiences? This is a question. I don't know if it's a random question, but I want to I'm going to ask you again. Do you have hope for Colombia, Colombians to come together and figure out ways to I know you just came back from the integration that was probably a very hopeful step for you. Do you see more hope? Do you see like in the next 10 years, a different a different Colombia where your daughter is going to have a different experience than you did to growing up?


Margarita 44:52

Well, if I look back when I came back and started working as a journalist, it's so much better. I cannot even tell you. Well, you I mean, you were in but what you were imagining Yes.


Dydine Umunyana 45:05

Yes. Yeah. Yes.


Margarita 45:07

So so we are much better. I was a huge window of opportunity with the peace process with the FARC because if I was the biggest guerrilla group, and they weren't many places, so they're the mobilization meant a lot. So they that they did that little session or that this the government couldn't go in into those territories that they, they they govern and the groups came in, and now we have many more groups that have Tiago huge one park. Now we have all things. It's like a step back, but after three steps forward, so I guess we're in this game of, we're back, forward, back, forward, back, so I'm not sure but I see that now. It's better than 20 years ago. And then thing with, you know, the the war on drugs that I don't want to get into the details of the argument if it's good or bad on people. I mean, obviously, it's not good that people take drugs, but how how do we go about that? It's a different thing as the militarization of the drug war and the huge resources that Americans have put it to Colombia to combat the cocaine traffic committed, enormously profitable. There's a window of opportunity here in the sense that apparently people are not consuming cocaine anymore. So


Dydine Umunyana 46:43

yeah, so


Margarita 46:44

maybe maybe we need Yes, us here. We don't we cannot we that would be not at this huge amounts of money that Narcos make. And in all of a sudden they can, they can provide so many weapons and I mean, like provide a foreign army. Yeah. So maybe that would be something that thinks of drugs that they aren't other drugs, at least inside maybe we don't have this huge amounts of drugs of money coming from the drug trade that alters everything, and that would make it easier for peace to consolidate. So just don't know what's gonna happen. But what is that? The cocaine trade is diminishing substantially. Yeah, very outside. I mean, it was the war was fueled by that money. And what's going to happen if that money's not there, if that's the country to pick for a hole


Dydine Umunyana 47:47

hmm that's a very Yeah, that's a very money is the source of all evil that's what they say. And when it when it includes drugs as well. That's, that's another Yeah. The Yeah, that's a really hard


Alex  48:08

it is yes. And you know, when we had started this platform to deal with bass range, it was back in 2020. Yeah. And we had just been speaking recently, just about how much three years is not a long time. But with the amount of stuff matter of just life events that have taken taking place. It does feel at times like it was it was a long time ago. And when we talk about hope, yeah, I am still I still am hopeful. I think that's maybe you know, yeah, and I don't know it's just I feel like a grown up I see things a little bit differently. Yeah. Not necessarily, in a cynical way. But I think when the pandemic happened, and you were able to see humans interact, or engage with this, this disruptive thing for many people, that was the first time they'd ever experienced something. Well, yeah, some people came together, some people sort of divided as we still sort of feel the reverberations of, but what I'm trying to say is, I feel like I understand people a little bit better in different extreme circumstances. And that has given me I think, a lot more empathy and compassion for people who, who know a particular way of life and it just gets shifted on its head. I don't know where and you then you see the reactions and you see the sort of avalanche effect of the domino effect of these reactions, and how people's reactions affect communities, how it affects government, the economy, and so on and so forth. So it's this conversation. I'm not sure if we have answers, I don't think that you you presumed to have answers on how to fix everything. Yeah. But I think just having the conversation is and this is the thing that has been the most consistent from three years ago to now is having the conversation and just being able to sit in the discomfort for a little bit. Yeah. And to contemplate how we treat each other. Yeah. And the effects of how we treat each other. I think that is still just as important as it as it has ever been.


Dydine Umunyana 50:36

Oh, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. That makes sense. You said something about ripple effects. Yeah. And that was that I thought of Columbia in the ways that young people there are people in different groups, they are in the ripple effects of Colombia's history. And that's the empathy that when it comes in, when when you look at them, not look at them as the things I've done, but as as humans who have been affected by the history of their own, by their own country, and that's and that creates, creates empathy, you know, it creates those feelings of like the feelings of understanding and trying to have like you said earlier Margarita, having those conversations. Not kill each other men are hurting each other. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And that takes me to we have one more quite we have like, we have like nine minutes. We will finish but he takes me to a documentary he talks to me about earlier that when when I was with you in Colombia, I think the with women Yes, exactly. What's the name of the documentary again,


Margarita 51:50

when the waters flow as one? Yes.


Dydine Umunyana 51:53

Now I wanted to touch on that before we let you go. So how did that come about? And how is it going? And I don't know if he came out yet. But if he came came out, how where can we find it?


Margarita 52:07

Okay, so you and women open up a bit instead of having to do a documentary on women build peace in some of the most difficult regions of Colombia that are basically what I told you like, sort of like the borders. And so I wanted until I went to film in many of those places basically the border with the Pacific but it's mainly it's very much as indigenous and black communities Yeah. And, and then in the Caribbean, some more like peasant communities, and etc. So like in the in the in the horse places and it's always so incredible to to be to observe people that live in war and work for peace. That is something that I I say that is not rushing, if you're in the middle of this huge problem, just leave or something. But then they start, like very afraid, but still, they say this, this cannot go on. This is not fair. This shouldn't be this shouldn't happen. So for example, one of them was a teacher. That the gorillas recruit many young men and women, ya know, as young as 12. So, so one day she went into her school, and they really had recruited half of her class. And she decided with the mothers to go to the, to the girl at camp to ask them to give them back their kids. That takes so much courage.


Dydine Umunyana 53:55

Yes, like, you


Margarita 53:57

know, like this lady, you know, going to a whole arms commander with Southern coordinates and, you know, guns and everything and say, you know, give us maximum, give us at least the ones who are not 15 You know, that's all Yeah, actually. For example, in that case, he, he, he got, he told the ones who are, I think 14 or something can leave. And actually some of them didn't want to leave.


Dydine Umunyana 54:31

Because they already indoctrinated into the ideas.


Margarita 54:34

It has lived in the war, you know, because the guerrilla passes through your house. You know, you live in the countryside it seems to be you know, like something interesting. So, so um, didn't want to didn't want to didn't want to leave, but a lot of them cut back. And this enormous this acts of enormous bravery against all odds that start breaking up, you know, like opening cracks in the fear and the atmosphere that the armed people are in charge of everything. I respect that so much. Yeah. For example, we're about a community of our Colombian community near the Caribbean, where they had a paramilitary commander who was a sexual abuser. And after that, there was like a break, they, they went to the judges, and after, like eight years, he is in prison for long and but they have the bravery to do that. Yeah. When there was still time where you didn't know they were going to come back. When you didn't know if you were really kind of like committing a suicide. Yeah. Oh, yeah. And the bravery and the, like, this sense of, of self confidence that that brought to that community that was very beautiful. So when you said about hopeful, I think I'm hopeful. I'm naive. But in my 20 plus years now here, have I've seen that things have changed. And that answer should be almost like why would you do that? That's just don't do that. You're you and they were then they change things. So I I cannot tell you how much I admire. them. But I think the documentary will be on Amazon next year. You're sharing it. Exactly. Exactly. It's a story of many women in the world.


Dydine Umunyana 56:40

Yes, there are so many heroes among us like they are here alive doing things and then when you told me your story of one of the women there was just so many heroes in the world. There's so many good people in the world


Margarita 56:53

heroes. That is that's the thing, and I always have this picture like a photo. If you're a scrape scared think about it. And this like grandmother in the in the Argentine website is in the Argentina Plaza. All this military men that you know have disappeared and killed so many other kids. And there was this old lady with like,


Unknown 57:19

you know, like a rope theater.


Margarita 57:23

And she they are all there like, you know, with these huge arms and weapons, and she's by herself, walking towards them and marching. And you know, that is one of the movements that was one of the most inspiring women movements in the world of how mothers and grandmothers march like if they were crazy, you know, because you have to be crazy to do


Dydine Umunyana 57:47

a little bit of yes, you have to have a little bit of increasing that baptism saying like, you got a good sense.


Margarita 57:52

Yes, you are against all odds, March and yes, that was Harriman that was just moving kill you in a second. Still there or every Tuesday for months, weeks, months and years and then you defeat them. You defeated by your moral courage.


Dydine Umunyana 58:15

Yes. So


Margarita 58:17

the more chords is something that is understood to the the power of you know, like, wow, but the more porch is something that is understated. Oh, suddenly on Monday and I thought about that, yes. And how also taught us in small spaces and the big thing is that moral courage is something that yes,


Dydine Umunyana 58:39

is braver is way way braver to not have Yes, absolutely. And that's when you say those with most of those women when they go take that decision to what March you know, towards danger and seeing Yeah, that's when you are at that place where you say enough is enough. This is enough is enough. This is it. Yeah. And and you're doing in your own way. Yeah, yes. Yes. My own it, all it you are you're contributing and the new generation future generations are going to look at your work and learn about the history. You're keeping the history. You're keeping the memory alive. I know that in Colombia, there are no memorials or No, we're just trying to be you know, this is little by little Oh, good. Good. We have to keep pushing. Yeah, because memory is important. Remembering is important in history can never be right. It's not good to be erased because we repeat you know, we've known humankind is known for repeating the same things and then expect a different result. Yeah. But so that's the contribution that you know, you're there you're doing it the heroism, the things that you choosing to do you could have became something else you could have chose to, you know, stay in in New York you can have by you chose this Less Traveled paths, and that that that is something to be reckoned with.


Alex  1:00:10

Yeah, well, it's the right word. It's an honorable thing. Yes. I think it's a testament to your maybe the calling we all have callings in our lives, things that just draws to our potential the things that we're supposed to accomplish. And I think it's it's what you got just all these wonderful ones. It just speaks to the type of person that you are in the work the work that you've done, tremendous amount of work. That will will live on, there's a standing there saying what we do in life echoes through eternity. Even when we're not here. Yes. Right. And so the work that you've done, the work that we are trying to do is stuff. Yeah, it supersedes us as people and becomes an ideal to strive towards. I think that's a quote from Superman actually. Oh, but I can't own that one. But I hope you absolutely. It is important for us to take cues from the work that you do people like you Yeah, and become involved in Be the change that we want to see in this world. Yeah, absolutely.


Dydine Umunyana 1:01:25

Absolutely. And so, well what will be your message to young people, especially young women, of today, in Columbia and elsewhere? What would be your blasting words? You know,


Margarita 1:01:42

well, you know, filming women that live in war and build peace. Maybe realize because it's such a not women. are usually non threatening, you know, they're not carrying weapons and whatever. So they are more like every woman that we move from all over the world can relate. Not even the women who don't live in war. Yes, we learn from them. They still like the cartoon it takes to change your own environment. Because maybe there is no war but there are lots of unfair things that you can change and they do it they do it together. You know, that's what it calls when the waters flow is one because they they know that they cannot do it together. They could not do it by themselves. They have to do it.


Dydine Umunyana 1:02:31

Okay, but I learned from


Margarita 1:02:33

them that persistence, and doing it together. Takes your will away. So what do you what do you feel that needs to be changed? So the other you know, when you cover a war for so long and said like, things change, not really, that you like, nothing matters, you know, this thing that nothing do matters. And when I tell them that we're a small grain in this whole region where they lived, and with that small grain, they started changing things. That is a lesson that it took me many years, maybe just just to see it, maybe believe that that was possible, even though we all know it's possible because we do it in our daily lives. Now when you do contribute or whatever. You need them in the long run what how they


Dydine Umunyana 1:03:29

started this,


Margarita 1:03:31

nobody's you know this, the teacher with five mothers is changing things that would be my my last name word that don't underestimate your own power. That you said and you said together with whoever are your partners in that and that injustice is not a given. It's not that we have to accept it. That way. And you're small or big actions or your persistence in the action can change things. So you don't have to be you just have to stand up.


Dydine Umunyana 1:04:07

That's really, really beautiful. And, and thank you. Thank you so much. I think that that's a message for me as well. What you to save in something to take away. Remember that they just have that little reminder of you can just you you you are enough. You there's so much that you can do it from your own little space, or the little few things that you have and not underestimate ourselves because we do we do it often and we don't even know when we do it all the time. Yes, yes. So we have power. You got power. You got power. I got power.


Margarita 1:04:48

You use it.


Dydine Umunyana 1:04:51

Absolutely. I think that's the message of today, I think. Yes. Yes. Don't underestimate your power. No,


Margarita 1:04:57

thank you for this conversation.


Alex  1:05:00

This was amazing. Yeah, this was this was absolutely a treat. Yeah. When when we when I found that when Dina told me that you would agree. Oh my god.


Dydine Umunyana 1:05:10

Please. I think so much about you and I think he was


Margarita 1:05:16

granted, I learned so much from didi. I'll send you the link. So you can put the negotiation there. Because I find this pedagogic


Dydine Umunyana 1:05:28

it is I am so lucky I was able to watch it. You were there too. I was you know a special moment for me to watch it with you. So we definitely gonna put it there and any other thing that you would like for us to add please.


Margarita 1:05:44

Indigenous and the requests for lab and I'll send you a couple


Dydine Umunyana 1:05:49

Yeah, that'd be that'd be soon. The end of bio we have it translated from Spanish to English. Yes, because some some things get get lost in translation.


Alex  1:06:02

Yeah, yeah.


Dydine Umunyana 1:06:03

Yes. Also, thank you so much for our listeners for taking your time and listening and learning together and experiencing a world far away from us, some of us but you know, seeing the power of community I think that one of the missing big messages was when we come together and do we can do we can go far. Yes. Then what I would do


Alex  1:06:26

is embrace your community embrace just like we have just been talking about embrace each other. Yes, you can't do anything important. Alone. You can't do anything significant amount you need people. Yeah, people are here for us like well, then we're not enemies. We should not be enemy. And I think if we continue, you can look at everybody and see something reflected within yourself like Oh, I understand this person because they are like me. Yeah, and all it takes is just the effort to slow down and that visual of some kind of a long outro but the visual of these women walking up to these these hulking soldiers with the weapons and exactly, you say that when we tend to moral moral courage, moral courage. That's a wonderful there's a wonderful


Margarita 1:07:17

girl courage. No, I thought it was I don't know.


Dydine Umunyana 1:07:21

Who will listen to


Margarita 1:07:24

because though I say I'm not I don't remember. But yes, no moral high ground I don't know. But don't you right when you're when you're writing they're not Oh, look it up so well.


Alex  1:07:47

Thank you again, everybody based community for embracing Margarita on our on our in our own community in the bass range world. Stay tuned for the next episode we will be back speaking. Until next


Dydine Umunyana 1:07:59

Until next time till next time