Saturday, February 08, 2003

Welcome to my new blog!

There are two main streams of thought to my reading at the moment. On the one hand I am fascinated by the Russian writers, almost any writer I have read seems to display a rigour and a thoughtful philosophy I have not experienced before.

I am also interested in Latin America. This week almost all my office reading has been from 'News of a Kidnapping' by Gabriel García Márquez.

This is the fictional account of a turbulent time when Pablo Escobar kidnapped several journalists and relatives of government ministers. I can describe exactly what happened with this book, I bought it about 5 years ago and started it but it was a little slow and I left it. Then I started to read it again this year and I saw how he described people with intricate detail and he he highlighted the absurdities of the situation - that government ministers are forced to negotiate with criminals to release their wives of their sister even though they are forbidden to give the perception that they are negotiating with them.

He describes people as real people twisted and tortured because they know what is right and also what they have to do to survive. Sometimes they are forced to compromise, both the criminals and the victims because they both have needs and to achieve their goals they have to work together. I still haven't finished it but I am relishing every moment with it.

There is a very funny moment in the book where Villamizar the unofficial negotiator decides he has to take the risk of finding Pablo Escobar:

"He took a cab from the airport to the Hotel Intercontinental, and some fiteen minutes later he was picked up by an Ochoa driver. He was an amiable, bantering twenty-year-old from Medellin who observed him for some time in the rearview mirror. At last he asked: "Are you scared?" Villamizar smiled at him in the mirror. "Don't worry Doctor," the boy continued. And added, with a good deal of irony: "nothing will happen to you while you're with us. How could you even think such a thing?"

I am still gripped with the situation, expecially as Ingrid Betancourt, a politician from Columbia with French connections who has just written a book was kidnapped last year and has not been released. The situation in Columbia seems terrifying, far worse than Belfast, in fact I feel lucky to be in Belfast.

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