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Colombia: Outrage Over Councilman's Racist Comment

“No one enters unless they are an official or an advisory council member. No more, because this is becoming a merienda de negros” [Note: in Spanish, the expression "merienda de negros” (which roughly translates to "black people's snack time") is an expression with racist undertones which means that things are getting out of hand.] These were the words used by Bogotá councilman Jorge Durán Silva, from the Liberal Party, when he called to order during a debate in the council last May 16, 2012. The video of this comment began to spread through media and social networks on July 31, immediately causing outrage among citizens.

On August 2, YouTube user kienykeVideo [es] edited the video, adding a question at the end:

¿Cuál es el pronunciamiento del Concejo de Bogotá y el Partido Liberal ante este tipo de expresiones por parte de los dirigentes políticos?

What does the council of Bogotá and the Liberal Party say in response to these type of expressions by political leaders?

The comment has revived [es] a similar event starring the deputy to the Assembly of Antioquia, Rodrigo Mesa Cadavid. The Attorney General's Office opened a disciplinary process for Mesa after his comment referring to one of the departments with the largest population with African descent in Colombia: “The money that you will invest to the Choco is like spraying perfume on a bollo [human waste]”. Social organizations sued Mesa; however, he was finally disabled [es] from his post on charges of falsifying a public document.

Enrique Jimmy Vargas (@Enriquejimmyvar) [es], recalls Mesa's case and uses upper-case letters to suggest the following:

@Enriquejimmyvar: @todelar ASI COMO AL DIPUTADO MESA LO DESTITUYERON E INHABILITARON ESPERAMOS LO MISMO AL MAÑOSO Y RESABIADO CLIENTELISTA CONCEJAL DURAN OJAL

@Enriquejimmyvar [es]: @todelar Just like deputy Mesa was removed and disabled from his duties, we hope the same for the vicious clientelistic councilman Durán.

Similarly, Jaime Rodríguez (@jaime_concejal) [es], a current candidate to Bogota's Council, writes:

@jaime_concejal: El concejal Jorge Duran Silva debe ser sancionado por “RACISTA”

@jaime_concejal [es]: Councilman Jorge Durán Silva must be sanctioned for being a “racist”

Moreover, German Rozo (@AmericanoGR) [es] highlights how the Colombians of African descent have represented the country at the 2012 Olympic Games in London:

@AmericanoGR: Mientras Jorge Durán Silva hace comentarios racistas, 2 de nuestros afrodescendientes dejan en alto nuestra bandera en los Juegos Olímpicos.

@AmericanoGR [es]: While Jorge Durán Silva makes racist comments, 2 of our athletes of African descent are putting our flag on high at the Olympic Games.

Oswaldo Loboa Aragón (‏@LoboaC521) [es] sends a message to the councilman:

@LoboaC521: CONCEJAL Jorge Duran silva ES UNA INCITACION A LA VIOLENCIA PRACTICAR EL RACISMO ………..EN COLOMBIA USTED ESTA RODEADO DE ELLOS UUUFFFFF

@LoboaC521: Councilman Jorge Durán Silva, practising racism is an incitement to violence….in Colombia you are surrounded by them. Ufff.

Durán, who apologized [es], is being sued [es] by lawyer Diego Ángulo with the alleged support of more than 30 organizations [es] that defend the rights of communities of African descent.

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