The Carnival of Barranquilla has a Blue Heart

Bogotá, February 24, 2014. The Carnival of Barranquilla, one of the traditional festivals of Colombia, declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO (2003), joins this year the Blue Heart global strategy against human trafficking, run by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime - UNODC.

On 18 February, the Autonomous University of the Caribbean - UAC - and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime - UNODC - signed an agreement in order to promote the design, management and implementation of activities to prevent human trafficking and its related crimes in Colombia. The same day, the campaign We Are Not Merchandise was launched with the participation of the Government of the Atlantico Department, which aims to reduce the vulnerability to human trafficking in that part of the country.

One of the actions taken by the university as part of the We Are Not Merchandise campaign was designing costumes allusive to the Blue Heart campaign for the Carnival Queen and King Momo, the main characters of the Carnival of Barranquilla, which takes place this year between 1 and 4 March.

The Queen Maria Margarita Diazgranados Gerlein reiterated her commitment to the campaign by reading her royal mandate on the prevention of human trafficking, and received from Bo Mathiasen, UNODC Representative in Colombia, the Blue Heart crosier as an official sign for the beginning of the implementation of activities.

The carnival will count with a Blue Heart troupe, who also will be present at the St. Thomas and Sabanalarga towns' carnival, as well as at the 44th Street Parade.

During the costume presentation event, Jaime Berdugo, Secretary of Government of the Atlantico Department spoke about the importance of supporting these activities in coordination with UNODC and academia in order to assist the population at risk. Furthermore, the Rector of the UAC, Ramses Vargas said that the university is keen to conduct an academic research as part of the commitment to crime-free tourism.

"In Colombia since 2011 our office, with the support of the national government and the private sector, has been developing mass and targeted actions to promote the use of the Blue Heart emblem as a symbol of commitment against human trafficking. We have visited more than 15 cities with prevention actions through art, and about 12,000 students from colleges and universities who have known the campaign joined the initiative and promoted it on social networks. With the motto We Are Not Merchandise the Autonomous University of the Caribbean and the Atlantico Department are we expressing commitment to a social issue that mobilized world opinion and has clear local impacts." Bo Mathiansen, UNODC Representative in Colombia.


Images of the Blue Heart Campaign in the carnival - Flickr

Message of the carnival queen about human trafficking