Every four days in Colombia a woman is killed by her husband or boyfriend, Colombia’s newspaper El Tiempo wrote yesterday. The other important newspaper, El Espectador, published an article called ‘When love kills’. The reason is that within a few months at least five killings of wives and girlsfriends were reported by the Colombian press. One of the latest was the murder of a woman in the Caribbean town of Barranquilla. Her very jealous ex husband suspected she had a lover. He shot her. Colombian press speculates about psychological problems and distortions in the brains of the men. But if a phenomenon is so widely spread and seems to be increasing, as El Tiempo says, one should wonder if the problem is not bigger than that.
Although especially in Colombia’s biggest cities life is quite modern and many women have jobs, and also important jobs, machismo is still common. Infidelity of the man is almost considered as a natural phenomenon whereas the unfaithful woman soon is qualified as a whore. In certain areas it is common that a man has different wives, one official and one or two inofficial. Usually he has children with all of them. It is rarely heard that one of these women also sleeps with other men. Her husband probably wouldn’t tolerate it, to say the least.
The most pathetical case are the much talked about gangster loves: often young well shaped – and if they are not, well made – girls who are considered the possession of El Patrón, who have to share him with his wife and other beautiful well shaped girls. These girls certainly cannot be with other men. El patrón would kill, them and the men. A friend of mine who was working with some indigenous people in Guaviare told me he was dating a girl for some time and found out she was a paramilitary’s girlfriend. Immediately he stopped contacting her and went to the guy to explain the situation and apologize. He didn’t know what happened to the girl afterwards and I believe he preferred not to know.
Even the guerrilla, that wants to start a revolution and change Colombia’s society, is affected by the machismo phenomenon. My fellow Dutch Tanja Nijmeijer, who appeared to be a member of the FARC, complains about the commander’s preference of young girls with big breasts. She supposes that the girls after the revolution will drive big Maserati cars and have plastic surgery to be more attractive to their boyfriend-boss.
Of course these examples are extreme, but they are not a coincidence that has nothing to do with how Colombia’s society is. They arise from it and caricaturize its most obscure sides.