On Friday 7th May, we made an emergency broadcast from the official Montana Colors Instagram account. A Real Talk interview was hastily arranged to ​​reach out to the graffiti community and beyond as MTN connected with Colombian writers Tnor and Mesek, who provided first-hand testimony from the cities in Colombia after days of repression of street protests that have resulted in multiple deaths at the hands of the police, including the shooting of the writer Flex.


Tnor, from Bogotá and Mesek, from Cali, are two writers who featured in an Instagram Live interview hosted by Mark Dix last week. During the conversation, the young writers addressed the desperate issue of police repression in Colombia against the protests, initially provoked by new tax reforms.
The writers also provided a historical analysis of the social situation in Colombia that helped us to understand the underlying reason for the protests, the disproportionate repression and the lack of international media coverage.

‘… the only good thing that these tragic events have demonstrated is the mutual support between activists that has been reflected in the world of graffiti: groups of rival writers have come together to develop projects with a common objective of raising awareness in their society and throughout the world of a conflict that could sadly spread to other Latin American countries.’

According to Tnor, who was born and raised in Colombia, 80 years of civil war marked by strong political tensions between centralists and federalists resulted in persecution of leftist ideologies and even assassinations of politicians and social leaders. The growth of the narco-state and the existence of guerrillas helped the government to control the population through fear.

The “false positives” scandal is an example of institutionalized violence carried out by a state that acted with impunity. The strategy of the Uribe government was implanted to increase guerrilla casualties by disguising civilians’ corpses in army fatigues. The amount of murders of innocent people is said to number 6402. In this context we can start to understand the tragic reality of the Colombian society, with the lack of respect for civil life from the authorities, and the limited social echo that opponents can achieve, given the government’s control of the media. As Tnor explains, the case of “Flex” is not an isolated incident in the Colombian graffiti scene. Diego Becerra, another writer and friend of the Real Talk guests, suffered a similar fate.

 

‘The amount of murders of innocent people is said to number 6402. In this context we can start to understand the tragic reality of the Colombian society, with the lack of respect for civil life from the authorities, and the limited social echo that opponents can achieve, given the government’s control of the media.’

The political and social heritage of Colombia, like many other Latin American countries, has created a huge gap between social classes meaning a small minority of rich people have accumulated the majority of the country’s wealth. The extreme poverty that affects a large part of the population is becoming more and more commonplace and social discontent exploded with the latest fiscal reform proposed by the Duque government, intended to raise taxes on basic necessities to cover military expenses, against a background of the COVID-19 crisis.

The interview concluded with further contributions from another Colombian artist, the activist DjLu, who shared some reflections from the point of view of a politically-conscious veteran street artist. The talk with the three men underlined that the only good thing that these tragic events have demonstrated is the mutual support between activists that has been reflected in the world of graffiti: groups of rival writers have come together to develop projects with a common objective of raising awareness in their society and throughout the world of a conflict that could sadly spread to other Latin American countries.

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