The venerable National Geographic began publication in 1888,so it is now 119 years old. I do not know why it does not proclaim this fact in its current issues.  When I was a boy it was essentially a travel magazine, avoiding unpleasant subjects. It has matured enormously and it now publishes well-documented article even on unpleasant subjects. Such is the article on Colombia in the March 2005 issue: "Medellín. Stories from an urban war. A murderous international drug cartel and violent conflict bedevil a Colombian city striving for normalcy". I visited Medellín several times in the 1940s. Although it was Colombia's second city, it was quiet, pleasant and provincial. During that period I traveled through much of Colombia without any trouble.  Then came la violencia. Many Colombians fled the country. I invited to Stanford Luis Enrique Osorio, the playwright and editorial writer for El Tiempo, who had received death threats. Things have got worse, and now there is warfare in many parts of Colombia. What went wrong is a complicated story.  To put it simply, some countries simply lose their cohesion.

Ronald Hilton 2005


last updated: April 16, 2005