Sunday, October 28, 2007

Election Day

It was a cold, rainy day in Bogota, but the buses and street corners were filled. It was a special day all across Colombia. No, Shakira didn’t release a new album. It was local election day. White tents were set up in parks and side roads for voters to choose their candidates. The Colombian army guarded these tents and could be seen on almost every block. It was nothing new. I see them each day. Still, I don’t know if I can ever become completely accustomed to seeing men dressed in camouflage, carrying AK-47s. Many members of the army are young and poor. All 18-year-old men are required to serve one year in the army or with the police. Though, like many places, if you have money, you can have your name removed from the list, thus skipping this duty. Leading up to the election, cars drove around the city with loudspeakers, people handed out flyers, and there were several small protests. But today, for all I know, was a peaceful day. Samuel Moreno beat the incumbent Enrique Penalosa for mayor of Bogota. I don’t know much about him. However, I read in El Tiempo that Moreno studied in Bogota and in the U.S., where he earned his masters in public administration at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. It was there that he became good friends with Felipe Cauldron, current president of Mexico. The worst part of the election for me was the fact that it ruined all the Halloween spirit, and people didn’t wear costumes last night. However, Halloween parties will take place next weekend. This is actually a good thing. I still need to find a costume.