Tulcan - Sophie Lally

The concert took place in a large park and sports field with bleachers and the number of people seated was slightly disconcerting. There was a small minority at the front, who were clearly in the spirit of the concert but the vast majority seemed for want of a better word, bored. There were more people crowded around the food stands than the stage and other than the odd ten year old whose Latin blood had overridden the general malaise breaking out some dance moves, dancing seemed to be an alien concept to this crowd.

 

Our group was notably the only “gringos” present and eventually curiosity overtook the polite conventions of a group of Columbian boys. Ranging from fifteen to twenty-two they quizzed us on where we were from and our reasons for being present. In return they answered my questions on the lack of atmosphere, despite what seemed all the right ingredients for a banging peace concert. According to these boys it was the music that was causing the lack of enthusiasm, although I have a sneaky suspicion it was their penchant for heavy metal that was impeding their fun. It was at this point that the rain started and there was a mass exodus.

The field emptied in the space of fifteen minutes and regardless of a small group of people who had cleverly brought their umbrella’s despite the morning sunshine the concert was essentially over. It would seem that while the organizers “hearts” were in the right place the concert itself failed to meet the expectations of the many people who had crossed the border and travelled to Tulcan from other parts of Ecuador. Local press reported a success and stated that about 20,000 people were in attendance. This is perhaps possible if you count the heavy police presence and the number of food and drink vendors. However, I would hazard at a figure closer to the 5,000 mark. Although the concert lacked the “Latin fever” you would expect from an event of this sort.

It is extremely encouraging to see the peoples of Ecuador and Colombia overcoming differences caused by a tiny but significant minority. The papers everyday report worsening relations between the Ecuadorian and Columbian governments but April 12th proved that this is a purely political issue. The problems between Ecuador and Columbia are removed from the populace. As the Saturday in the park proved they are quite willing to sing, eat and drink together without discrimination and violence and it was only the strong police presence that alluded to the fact that problems could be expected. If the governments of these countries could take a leaf out of their voters books and work together instead of to their own agenda’s perhaps the diplomatic road ahead wouldn’t seem so rocky.

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