A Little Bit of Juan Valdez in Every Can

Cartoon about Colombia

Coffee growers in Colombia are pissed off and are going to sue. The cartoonist in question is Mike Peters for his strip Mother Goose and Grimm, and even though I do not know much about him I have to say I enjoy his drawing style. I also want to say in his defense, before I start to state my opinion that he said “he loves Colombia, his strip is being taken out of context because it is part of a series, and he always means to be humorous and not offend.”

Zapiro, a very famous political cartoonist in South Africa, has been drawing Nelson Mandela for years. He was recently interviewed by the BBC, and one of the things that surprised him is that Mandela actually followed him even when he was very critical of him. Mandela was even upset when he changed newspapers because he could not follow him every day now and called Zapiro. Mandela told Zapiro that he would never be offended because being a counter voice was his job.

Peters used a joke that I have heard before. That was my first thought when I saw the cartoon, that it was a little unoriginal. I am not saying I have heard every Colombian joke, but I have heard plenty. As an Immigrant I have always wanted to hear those kinds of jokes because I think they make me informed and give me an opportunity to tell the truth about a stereotype of a misconception.

Peters also is not a political cartoonist, and in that context bringing up violence in Colombia would probably have worked as satire. For a country that is working very hard to change its image, has the fastest growing economy of Latin America and its doing everything it can to stabilize itself a cartoon like this can be damaging. Unless it opens up the doors to conversation.

I think the coffee growers of Colombia are taking this opportunity to create a little publicity. I don’t think Peters meant any harm, and I hope that at the end of the day everyone that comes across the story can at least say they know a little more about this beautiful country where I was born.

13 comments on “A Little Bit of Juan Valdez in Every Can

  1. I thought it was hilarious. People need to lighten up it’s a friggin comic strip and was taken out of context 100%….I hope the Colombian suer’s (lol) don’t even make it to court or an out of court settlement. The artist’s apology should be enough. Fuck that.

  2. The coffee growers need to get off their high horse. It is just a joke. Sheesh… And on another note it’s good that you can use sterotypes, even cartoonish ones, to educate the public about your beloved Columbia. :-)

  3. I guess it’s about how everyone feels personally. I admit the cartoon is funny, but also a little bit offensive for me. Probably because the cartoon takes lightly something that is very dear to my heart.

  4. @ kcgeek FLASH!!!!!!! AAAHHHhHhHhhhh! He’ll save everyone of us!!!!!!

    @Bea– of course it’s near and dear to your heart it’s your home country. As there are literally millions of slams against the good ol USA in satire, comics, movies…works both ways. You don’t see tons of Americans going ape shit over a silly comic strip…

  5. Wook,

    My wife’s grandpa was killed during the period of time in Colombia defined as “la violencia” or just violence, also one of her brothers was murdered by a crime syndicate, so its not just her home country, but the subject does bring some sad memories.

    Last time a group of people were upset over a political cartoons I believe there were riots. So I guess the Colombian’s are taking the more “sue happy” approach that is so popular here. I still think it is a publicity stunt by the coffee growers… the joke even in context is of bad taste and its not satire IMHO, but since I heard it before I take it a lot more lightly.

  6. LOL, that is the point… she wrote about how it affected her personally, and you assumed it was just about being Colombian so I wanted to make sure you knew that it was not that simple in her case. I am not sure she even wanted that to be known.

    Now about the US not caring what others say about it, it really does not enter into this comment. This is not Colombians as a country going against anyone, I personally don’t care, but a corporation that has a brand to protect is a little miffed about it being used in a dumb (old to me) joke.

    I think the federation will get tons of publicity and maybe in the end the victim will be just a cartoonist that is probably regretting trying to use a joke that a corporation did not like.

  7. First: that was a funny strip.

    Second: all press is good press. Call attention to Colombian coffee growers, it’s good for their business. Similarly calling attention to Mother Goose & Grimm is good for Mike Peters.

    Third: Clearly Nelson Mandela’s a pretty cool dude.

  8. It’s definitely off-color humor, but at the same time, no group seems to go without getting a drubbing in some form and the suing seems a little too much. Or, is it different because they’re a business industry (rather than just making a joke about a race, gender or religion)?

  9. Well, I guess no matter what time or country we live in there will always be someone who pushes the envelope.

  10. I don’t think it was an envelope pushing, rather it was a Cartoonist doing what he does as a Cartoonist. Satire and Comedy. There are sooooooooooo many other things in this world people (the Colombian Bean Pickers) could have focused their time and energy on vs. suing a Political Cartoonist. Like make more coffee.

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