Due to the infuriating upstream bandwidth throttle at the Hotel de Pereira, I am not able to upload the amazing set of photos we took of the mass protest march against the FARC guerillas yesterday. I’ve managed to get a few up, but not as many as I’d like, and certainly none of the extensive video I shot.

This front page to me, is an answer to the problem that a friend of mine in Canada is having – http://theblablab.com/?p=425 – he posted a question on whether or not he should have taken a photo of a suicide, and in the comments section here on Flickr, several self-righteous, self-appointed Guardians of Public Morals and Decency trained their fatuous, privileged and snotty guns on him and anyone else that said that he should have taken the shot.

I am here in Colombia, where the journalists do not have the luxury of turning their backs on ugly reality. Where, when the issues of violence and suffering and pain started coming up – the polite press and polite society tried to sweep it all away … a reaction that allowed the problems to fester to the point that the country fell into a 25-year-long nightmare of blood and death and torture and massacres. And yes, I’m looking at you here Benny. Perhaps you’d like to come on down here and explain to the journalists here, who have braved the assassinations of their friends, the kidnapping and mutilation and torture of their family members … explain to them how turning your back and ignoring reality is really the best and most decent thing to do.

The last few days have been deeply touching and affecting; when I was down here 19 years ago, Colombia was in the midst of the narco-wars. I look back and wonder that I managed to survive with as few scars as I did. Bogota at that time was like Baghdad – it was not unusual to walk down the street, turn the corner, and find the entire block in front of you on fire… or to be tossed out of bed in the middle of the night by the shock wave from a bomb going off near you…

It has taken until today for Colombian society to unite, to realize that they have the power … that they can take that power, and march through the streets, peacefully. Forcefully. To say that they will no longer tolerate guerrillas who commit heinous acts in their name. That they reject the idea that the guerrillas are seeking to somehow “better” society for their benefit … the Colombians I saw, rocking back and forth, arm in arm, singing with tears in their eyes, have had the courage to face the unfaceable, to confront terror and intimidation and to say “No mas.”

It takes guts and strength and commitment to do that. None of which is in evidence on the part of the self-satisfied critics in this message thread: http://flickr.com/groups/onthestreet/discuss/72157603838886742/