Struggles to Protect Land in Colombia

PBS did a remarkable job documenting the struggles in Cauca, Colombia, where an Afro-Colombian community continues to battle massive multinational corporations that, backed by the government, have been trying to remove people from their homes for the past decade. It is a civil war. People are being murdered. Look here at the work of brave women warriors in the community who face death threats daily and still fight: PBS Special.

I would like to know what is happening now, January 24th, 2012, and will continue to post on this topic.

It is important to recognize the role of translation in all of this. Though we don’t hear the translators re-shaping meaning during the meetings in the U.S. (towards the end of the video), the role of these invisible intermediaries is crucial. The translation of what is happening in Colombia–from experience to word, and from words in one language into another language–is central to the struggle. It is important to keep these stories from Colombia alive in as many languages as possible. PBS did a remarkable job of carrying the message from one place to another. Lets keep it going so that pressure continues.


Vientos y Soles II: A Group of Poems


Da Bahia a Rhode Island
O sol é o mesmo e os seus contos são parecidos
embora surgam na nossa consciência em línguas
diferentes, igualmente belas todas

Na Bahia, aplaudem o por do sol em certas praias urbanas,
pessoas desconhecidas jogam bola
é um rito das perguntas
das possibilidades de cada dia, do universro que a noite carrega
da visibilidade da lua que predomina

In Manhattan, otra ciudad de mar y rio,
silent witnesses contemplan
the antiquated nostalgia of gold
illuminating Newark across the river
la história de los grandes inovadores de música

haunting and yet still opening possibilities
for the generations to come

The sunset is the rise and fall of a generation
of an epoch

The sun tells the same mysteries
of passing and crossing

The same silent witnesses
stand in the only way they know how
struck by the messages
and the questions

Silent witnesses
Silent witnesses along the coast

Silent witnesses of light
Gather along the shore
to live in the transition of day to night
Silent witness of the sea, of ports
Standing, struck, arrested by light.

By Sirocco Santos, 2011. Photography by SiroccoBlue (with the exception of the Woody Shaw album cover, of course). 


The government, army, and people of Spain have implemented “cleansing” strategies, round-ups, massacres, forced removals, expulsions, and genocide against the Romani people for centuries but they will never stop the legacy. Here, Juana, the mother of Camarón de la Isla:

There is something to be said of the way in which this youtube video was mounted by “sudyma.” The clip opens with a still-image of Juana (and an older Camarón sings to the black and white portrait of his mother. The framing itself suggests that the “llorao”–the “cry” of homage–is an ode to Camarón’s mother, but it is also an homage to the generations of Romani musicians that came before him. The thread is the cry of “ay” and it winds through the great innovators of the tradition.

Sudyma’s frame moves from left to right with Camarón’s call and we are transposed into the voice of his mother, Juana.

As Camarón sings, years later, into the future, he is singing into the past, in honor of the lineage he comes from. The ability to summon the past as it moves into the unpredictable future, or a voice that carries past, present, and future together is duende.

Juana’s song is an echo of Niña de los Peines’ inflections, as she sings “gugurú,” too:

The illustrious line translates into La Paquera, the mothers of the tradition:

Vientos y Soles I: Group of Poems

Duende Agó Agó

El é
El é
El é
El é bravo
El é guerreiro
Imenso gigante
de posibilidad
del chance

El é
El é
El é
El é quien abre el
universo del

El é
El é
El é
Quien lo distrubuye
la fuerza de crear de
de oir

El é
El é
El é
Olé, Ay

Toma que toma!

El é
El é
El é

El é
El é
El é

Para suayo, Elegbara

Dueño de los caminos
de las encrucijadas

El é posibilidad

Quien lleva epseranza
y rezo
a otros puertos
otros mares
donde el mismo sol,
todos los días,
baja su rostro

El é
El é

El é
El é
El é

El é el sonido
that the silent witnesses hear as they line
the shores

Humbled by the force of possibility
of a day or a moment
Marking the crossroads of night
thinking towards the next universe of possibility
del próximo día.

By Sirocco Santos, 2011. Photography by SiroccoBlue (with the exception of the album cover).