My name is Victoria and I have spent the past six years, two months and twenty-four days writing almost 250 stories that have attempted to tell the truth about a country called Colombia, and every single one of them has failed.
That’s because the more truthfully a writer writes about Colombia, the more fiction he or she produces. Bemused by this, I have ensured every story I write about Colombia is more detailed and more accurate than the previous story I have written about Colombia and every time it has turned out more fantastical. The more honestly and sincerely I write, the more letters I receive that say, “Dear Victoria. I admire your writing. I just don’t believe a word of it.”
This is not my fault. I am a beginner, I’m barely ready to poke my toe into the well-trodden footprints of greats like Gabriel García Márquez and yet I find he had the same problem. García Márquez wrapped himself in the cloak of a genre called magical realism so he could write the truth about Colombia and pretend to the rest of the world he was writing fiction. García Márquez is now at peace, of course, and therefore relieved of the duty of writing about Colombia’s inability to achieve the same. I make no pretence at writing fiction and therefore consider myself relieved of the same burden.
This is why no-one would believe me if I tried:
- The guerrilla kidnap children, hand them a gun and tell other children to shoot them if they try to go home. In the aftermath of the plebiscite, they were the ones who sounded reasonable.
- The man who demonstrates eye-popping apoplectic rage at the prospect of anyone having impunity, has impunity.
- Those who insist the war continue insist they cannot be the ones to fight it.
- The families of victims were out-voted because peace wasn’t worth the sacrifice.
- The YES are full of hatred for the NO because they are full of hatred and voted NO.
- The guerrilla forces women to have abortions. The rest of society forces women not to have abortions. Both criticise the other’s attitude towards women.
- Those most outraged by the peace agreement are the ones who haven’t read it.
- The guerrilla cannot be allowed in Congress because they are criminals fuelled by drug money.
- Colombian peace was signed and celebrated before the vote that would decide if it might happen.
- The president failed to achieve peace and, within a week, had won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Like this? You’ll love Colombia a comedy of errors.