Colombian artists are drawing attention to their country’s challenges in the post-conflict era. All have a strong message to send, like the writer Gustavo Bolivar, who focuses on dramatized fact, rather than pure fiction.
CGTN’s Michelle Begue has his story in her continuing series, ‘Arts and Conflict.’
The stories of Colombian author Gustavo Bolivar are not based in fantasy. He prefers to convey the grittier dreams and pitfalls of real life.
“When I had the privilege of entering the TV world – which is hard to do as a writer- I decided I wouldn’t waste the opportunity on writing Cinderella stories of the poor girl who marries the rich man,” the writer explained. “I wanted to do something different that would provide a mirror for my society: the truth.”
Bolivar has written eight books and some 1,6000 scripts for telenovelas, docuseries, and films. But what launched him into international fame was his bestseller turned TV series, ‘Without Breasts There is No Paradise,’ telling the story of a young Colombian girl who seeks massive breast implants to attract a rich cocaine smuggler.
“This is a difficult job, because you are denouncing a social injustice. In the case of ‘Without Breasts There is No Paradise,‘ I am denouncing that a generation of girls without opportunities of employment end up in the hands of the mafia, because they don’t have other opportunities.”
Poverty and lack of opportunities for Latin America’s youth was also the subject of Gustavo’s ‘Pandilla’, or ‘Gang.’ Although the popular series was produced in the 1990s, the issues are still relevant in Colombia today. Government estimates show there are at least 8,000 gangs operating across the country, counting more than 50,000 members.
The core problems addressed in the series, Bolivar says, are just as challenging today.
“I think our biggest tragedy is the lack of education, a bad education. We have a lack of coverage and lack of quality.”
In 2003, Cesar Lopez created the “escopetarra,” or shotgun guitar. According to Lopez, “our dream is to have it play more notes than the number of bullets it shot.”
Bolivar’s series on drug lords, gangs and those who live in this underworld has gained popularity over the decade; the action and the drama undoubtedly make for good TV. But, he explained, this can’t be confused with a glorification of that lifestyle.
“You don’t find any of these Narco series ending with the drug lord in a yacht with seven women and a bottle of whiskey. They all end up in jail, or extradited and dragging their family and innocent people through great tragedies.”
The Colombian writer who shows us, time and time again, that some of life’s greatest tragedies are based on real-world circumstances.