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Colombia: Hard to Tell the Good Guys from the Bad

My Camera by Marcin Wichary

My Camera by Marcin Wichary

Through citizen videos, different Colombian organizations share their unique perspectives on crime, violence and armed conflict, where it's hard to tell apart the good guys from the bad.

First, mothers and family members show up to march against the armed forces impunity on the deaths of young men due to what has been called False Positives. In the latest false positive situation, it seems that military lured young men with promises of work to rural areas where they were then assassinated and passed off as guerrilla members killed in action. However, the 17 accused members of the military were released when the trial deadlines were not met.

The second group is the Nasa indigenous community, who through their YouTube channel have the opportunity to tell a side of the story usually avoided by mass media. In this case, the mines, mortar shells and other weapons left on their indigenous preserve, which is in the middle of the disputed areas between legal and illegal armed groups. The indigenous security service has to frequently “sweep” the area, including houses, to dispose of these weapons left by both the national army and the guerrillas. In the video, they ask the armed forces to please stop laying landmines and to at least come and pick up the unexploded ammunition before the members of their indigenous community stumble upon them.

In this third example, a neighborhood newspaper interviews the police to ask for the end of the year balance. In the interview, titled “Watch out for the bad neighbor” the officer mentions an incident where members of a criminal gang lived in a well-to-do apartment building much to the surprise of the neighbors, smuggling out weapons inside duffel bags designed to transport tennis raquets. But what is surprising is the recommendation the officer has for anyone: keep an eye on your neighbors and if you see young men with lots of money living on their own, eating out most of the time and bringing attractive young women into their apartment, particularly if they look like call girls, they might be members of the mafia.

Do you know of any other communities and organizations who are using video to tell stories not covered by mass media or to share different perspectives on the stories making the news? Please share them with us through the comments or write me a note!

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