2019 is almost over and it seems that certain customs and patterns don’t change. It really doesn’t mater how many laws, severe punishments, consequences and penalties, there are things that don’t change (its absurd, we know). It’s as if we didn’t have the capability to do so or evolve to a better tomorrow.
Sadly, we are talking about the impact of fireworks, illegal fireworks, that is. The main issue is that there is an almost stubborn resistance to change certain cultural patterns that jeopardise both children and adults.
This is a cyclical announced drama. A drama in which thousands of Colombians risk their existence and spend exorbitant amounts of money buying fireworks without thinking about the dangers that they, their children may encounter.
Each year, national, departmental and municipal authorities announce drastic measures and prepare to avoid what has caused death, irreparable injury and destruction, frustrating the future of many people and causing irrecoverable grief.
This is such an important subject matter for us that we decided to reach to people in different sectors. We spoke with Juanita Cataño, Valle del Cauca representative and Adriana Lievano who is co founder of the Inti Foundation.
Cataño told us that in regards to the legislations we are doing okey but there is a lot of irresponsibility amongst adults given that the majority of the victims are kids.
Adriana lievano, who is co founder of the Inti Foundation assured us that the sale and production of illegal fireworks does not diminish even though people are aware of the risk in entails.
This doesn’t change because of the economical benefits it represents and because those who purchase it see it as a game without measuring the very real and grave consequences that firework burns may create, states Lievano
It must be made clear that there is an industry that meets the demands and offers safe fireworks. But, where there is legality there is also an illegal side. We are talking about an industry that does not meet the minimum safety standards and every year is the protagonist of explosions in clandestine powder.
In addition, it causes to tragedies among those who still believe that fireworks are part of an innocent game and are a part of our traditions.
The most affected
Minors are affected the most. The city of Cali, capital of Valle del Cauca, presents a serious problem in this area. They are constantly seizing hundreds of kilos of black powder. They store it in small packages of paper, and in bags; ready for the elaboration of different elements of pyrotechnics.
During 2017, in Cali, the majority of cases occurred in the country: 35 burned victims.
The number of firework related burned victims during December 2018 went up to 625 people. This is a 14,5 % decrease in regards to the same prior in 2017.
And, although many resist changes, there are others who are looking for them.
On November 20th 2018, the Valle del Cali governor issued a decree where he asked the 42 mayors to prohibit the manufacture, sale and use of powder with white phosphorus in inexpert hands. Until this moment, only Candelaria (municipality) has refused to do so.
In the case of Cali, the Health Ministry announced that the Administration is close to signing the decree that receives the call of the department.
The control authorities have is very low, you can buy fireworks on the internet, Juanita Cataño tells us.
You watch the news and it is filled with stories about children who have been burned and your heart begins to shrink. And, hundreds of questions pop up, one of them is: how do they have contact with fireworks? Clearly with the help of an adult. A highly irresponsible, trusting and tortually misinformed adult.
What we need
I think that a long time ago we have reached the limit in regards to this problem. The time has come to erradcite the belief that in order to celebrate we need to use fireworks and not the necessary caution when it comes to doing it. Unnecessary and deadly risks are assumed.
The authorities don’t have enough control, Juanita Cataño assures.
As a consequence, it is essential to change the cultural pattern that leads us to risk children integrity. Children who want to be initiated into the rituals that associate these substances with the celebration.
Lievano told us that there are sanctions for those who produce, sell abd buy illegal fireworks. There are also sanctions for parents who permit their children to use fireworks and end up burned.
In the last decade 12,641 people have been burned, this equals more than a thousand people per year. They are people who lost their quality of life, forever.
Fines can reach 787,000 pesos for those who sell gunpowder in public spaces or inside homes.
The Bogotá City Hall recalled that the distribution, commercialization, transportation and manipulation of fireworks to children and adolescents is prohibited.
Although the numbers of burned victims has diminished, with respect to the previous years in the country, the stories of children and adults who have to spend this season in hospitals as a result of gunpowder manipulation continue to repeat.
We should ask ourselves the following: should they be prohibited? Should they cease to exist? The only certainty we have is that they are harmful to both men and women. They make us objects, they encase us, they take away our value.