In the bustling capital city of Bogota, an unusual artistic event took place. More than 50 pieces of art managed to navigate their way through the imposing iron bars of La Picota prison to find a home in the spacious confines of the exhibition hall at the headquarters of the Economic Culture Fund (FCE). This powerful exhibition was organised and curated by former FARC combatants who, despite the peace agreements signed with the state seven years ago, remain incarcerated.
This unique event was carefully orchestrated by Martha Patricia Ruiz Anchondo, the Mexican ambassador stationed in Colombia. Lending their support and backing to the event were the Colombian Ministries of Justice and Culture. The exhibition boasted a diverse range of paintings and sculptures, spanning a variety of themes. Contrary to what many may have anticipated, only a handful of the works focused on the harsh realities of life in prison or the devastating impacts of the long-standing war that the artists themselves had endured.
The artists, who were granted temporary leave from La Picota to attend the event, were present in the room when Ruiz Anchondo expressed her gratitude to President Gustavo Petro’s government. She praised their decision to allow the event to take place, stating,
Through art we can continue opening paths to peace in Colombia. She went on to suggest that events such as this art exhibition serve as
steps towards reconciliation.
Ruiz Anchondo reminded those present that the role of diplomacy has always been to foster peace. She stated that peace is a fundamental
root right without which it is impossible to enjoy all the other rights of the human being.
During the brief period of freedom that the former guerrillas were given to attend the event, several of them took the opportunity to express their gratitude to Mexico, the guarantor of the 2016 peace agreements. They also sent a message to President Petro, inviting him to visit the sixth pavilion of La Picota, so that he could witness firsthand that his initiative to humanize the country’s prisons is a viable possibility.
The artists, who are also former combatants, expressed their belief that, despite the shortcomings of previous governments, they are doing their part to uphold the peace agreements. They voiced their hope for their imminent release and demanded the immediate repatriation of Simón Trinidad. Trinidad, a former FARC commander, was extradited to the United States 20 years ago and is currently serving a 50-year sentence in the Florence maximum security prison in Colorado.