Colombia: ¡It’s time to change!

By Rocio Arango Giraldo


There’s a proverb that says “nobody is a prophet in their own land,” but this expression doesn’t relate to Juanes, the Colombian Grammy-award winning singer. More than 140,000 people sang his songs on December 19, 2008 in his birthplace of Medellin when Juanes staged a free concert as his Christmas gift to the city. It was the second time he has done it.


The concert was organized in collaboration with the Municipal Government of the City and some other organizations. It took place on River’s Avenue of the Medellin, in the middle of the Christmas lights.

Everyone behaved themselves and Juanes captivated the audience by capturing the spirit of the people in his songs. The Paisa (the name for Medellin natives) Singer strengthened his role as a social and political leader of people of every race, age and viewpoint.

Juanes performs at free Christmas concert in his native Medellin, Colombia. (Source: David Sànchez Mejìa)

During the concert, the singer invited people who had worked for peace and Medellin’s development to bring the city to where we are now as a great place to live, do business and travel — 20 years after the height of the narco violence and the time of Pablo Escobar.

Yet the concert was more than just listening to Juanes’ music, it made me think about strategic leadership and ask, “What social action is important at this moment?”

I work in a technology park where people are all the time speaking about “innovation.” But is it possible to speak about “social innovation?”

Recently, I attended the Experiences in Social Innovation fair in Medellin sponsored by CEPAL and Kellogs Fund. The event highlights innovative initiatives from every country in the region. The innovations consist of creating new forms of working with people in programs ranging from education and health to volunteer work and corporate social responsibility.

With the concert and the fair, I learned that Latin America needs activities to start the process of change. As Juanes sings in one of his new songs, “It’s time to change!”

It’s no longer enough to just give back to the community because it doesn’t change the conditions in which people live. It will take the citizenship of the 21st Century to participate and act together as the principal player for creating change.

Rocio shares a moment with two Colombian Indians at CEPAL fair.
(Source: Rocìo Arango Giraldo)

“It Time for change!” but our leaders must provide the opportunities for the change in the people or is change only meant for the architecture of our buildings? Are we the players to make change happen or merely spectators of the transformation?

A popular phrase some politicians like to use is “that the city should be international.” I disagree and think it’s a giant mistake to view our cities from this perspective. We are the citizens and comprise the cosmopolitan flavor of it.

However, other people speak about “The Society of Knowledge.” Yet, how do we begin to gain knowledge of each other when we don’t even know one another?

It’s time to change not just our world but how we look at it, ourselves and each other.


Learn more about Rocío:

Rocío Arango Giraldo is 22-years-old and lives in Medellín Colombia. She studied Political Science at the National University of Colombia, Public Management in the Technology Institute of Monterrey in México and Policy Networks at National University of Litoral (Argentina).

She is a member of the Colombian Conservative Party, and has written for such prestigious Colombian publications as El Colombiano, El Tiempo and others. But something she is most proud of is her advocacy for people with disabilities: “I fight for the rights of disabled persons like me.”

Rocío works in the Technology Science Park of Antioquia.

Related posts

Leave a comment