Velez: Of ice and our solitude


“(THEY) have too much ice...there is no crime and they just go about eating ice.”

That’s how President Rodrigo Duterte reacted on Iceland which led the resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council to probe his bloody war on drugs.

There are people who cheered for the President believing this was a witty jab on a country that has nothing but ice. But those who know geography felt their brains froze.

The President doesn’t know that Iceland is not just ice. It has volcanoes, 125 of them. This makes the country a main source of geothermal energy. Cheap and clean.

There seems to be a touch of poetic justice here. That Iceland known as the Land of Fire and Ice would call out the President of Fiery Tongue over his war on drugs and other cases of abuses on human rights.

And that President’s jab about ice reminds us of that great novel “A 100 Years of Solitude”. In that novel, the patriarch leader of Macondo, Jose Buendia, discovers ice from a group of traveling gypsies and calls it “the greatest invention of our time”. His obsession of these things led to his ruin as he neglects his land and the people. This tragedy carries on in each generation of the Buendia family that wiped out Macondo in the end.

Although the novel is an allegory of the writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ home country of Colombia, one can’t help see the meanings run parallel to our country. Isn’t it much happening here?

Our country is drawing the line about isolating ourselves from the UN, and from other countries for what the government claims is interventionist and meddling based on “fake news”.

It seems ironic that while it calls Iceland and other countries as meddling, the government does not raise a howl against China.

It is ironic that while it chides other countries into believing in “fake news”, this government churns out its own allegations, from matrix to narco-lists that has resulted to killings and arrests, and martial law that drove out the Moro and Lumad from their communities.

How can we eat these cold facts: 20,000 killed in the war on drugs; 1,900 Lumad students displaced from forced closures; and 50 Marawi residents who cannot go home?

The book shows how obsessions lead to ruin. It seems tragic we are living it out. The book though is better, because something truth is stranger and scarier than fiction.


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