Artist known as ‘Bacteria’ shines light on corruption infecting Colombia

World Today

Colombia is beginning a new post-conflict phase, and it’s not just historians and political analysts taking note.

CGTN is taking a look at artists who are drawing attention to the country’s challenges and cultural richness through their work.

All have a strong message to send.

CGTN’s Michelle Begue has the story of a cartoonist known by his pen name, Bacteria.

As a child, Jaime Andres Poveda, questioned everything, even his teachers. And he used drawings to express his non-conformity.

“I would draw cartoons of the teachers or the situations. I saw cartoonists that complained about injustice in the country, and that is how I decided to draw cartoons of the teachers,” the artist known as ‘Bacteria’ said. “If they were giving bad grades just because, I would draw cartoons.”

But it wasn’t until 2003 after college when Poveda got his official start as a cartoonist for one of Colombia’s most important newspapers, El Espectador.

Bacteria likes to draw Latin American realities with dark humor and sarcasm; prominent politicians and public figures are the subject of his critiques.

“I want my cartoons to be a way to pinch people and have them think, ‘Wait! What just happened? Why did Bacteria just draw this?” the artist explained. “I want it to be a motive for people to wake up. I know I won’t change the story of this country, but I want us to react!”

A recurring topic is corruption. Right now Colombia is gripped by the infamous Odebrecht scandal, involving a Brazilian construction firm accused of using bribes to acquire 100 projects in 12 different countries. The tentacles of the case have reached quite a few of Colombia’s prominent politicians.

“We are being governed by people who are really causing us harm. And it is happening in lots of countries. We don’t take up arms, we take up pencils in protest.”

Despite what seems an endless stream of grim material, Poveda said he dreams of drawing a country that thrives.

“There are those who steal billions and nothing happens. We have lost faith in the organisms that should protect us.  I would like to see a country that isn’t necessarily a paradise, but I would like to make fun of other things.”

With a moniker like ‘Bacteria,’ Poveda is often asked whether politicians should fear him. He said they shouldn’t find him dangerous, but if he’s making them uncomfortable, he’s doing his job.

More of Michelle Begue’s “Arts & Conflict”

Colombian graffiti artist ‘Guahce’ tells story of Latin America

Colombian musician’s “escopetarra” gives new life to weapons

Gustavo Bolivar’s dramatic works based on fact, not fantasy

Colombian radio personality uses humor to critique politics