As they say in Spanish “el mundo es un pañuelo”, ok maybe only grandmas say that in Spanish, but it means, “the world is a handkerchief (i.e. small).” And on Monday, Feb 4th in the Plaza Mayor, with a couple thousand Colombians gathering at the same time that over 2 million of their compatriots were gathering in Bogotá, it certainly felt that way.



On that day, I hung out in the chilly Plaza Mayor, a hop skip and a jump from my home, doing my intern’s duty for CNN, and helping to set up to shoot a Madrid segment for a story on these huge anti-FARC rallies that were being held in Columbia and all over the world by groups of expat Columbians.

I don’t know what the final estimate was for the crowd, it certainly didn’t fill the huge plaza, but by the time I left i was well impressed. The numbers could have been better sure, but what really got me excited was the way this was organized. I was chatting to one of the organizers, Paula, and she assured me she was no professional activist, just an economist working in Madrid. But she was so excited because most of the organizing was done via Facebook. Now, plenty of people hate Facebook (just google “facebook evil” and you’ll see what I mean), this recent article specifically comes to mind. I admit I have serious reservations about it, as a marketing info collection tool, in many many ways these vast companies that know so much about us are more than a bit creepy.

But Damn! if it isn’t useful! And this is a perfect example.

Paula was saying that it started via the facebook group, ( ‘m guessing it’s the one called Un Million de Voces Contra Las FARC) which now has over 200,000 members. People in different parts of the world then volunteered to organize their fellow Colombians wherever they happened to be: Paris, Miami, Toronto, you name it. I also like platforms like Facebook, or just good old fashioned emailing lists, as a way of organizing, becuase really , there’s no one at the top, it’s harder for demonstrations like this to then be hijacked by one or two groups. The people nominally in charge of these groups have no idea who’s signed up or who’s going to show up, so it makes it a little more chaotic, but a little more grassroots too.

(h/t to Laura, my fellow minion intern at CNN for the photos!)