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Colombia: Impunity, a Documentary About the Victims of the Armed Conflict

In 2011, journalist Hollman Morris and filmmaker Juan José Lozano launched the documentary Impunity, an audiovisual tour of the history of the armed conflict in Colombia through the voices of the victims of the various armed groups.

Impunity has generated all kinds of opinions because of its theme, and the reactions seen on social networks in this regard reflect that.

For example, the blog Hablando Jóven describes the documentary [es] as follows:

Este es un documental que refleja la realidad de las Victimas del Conflicto Armado y específicamente muestra el actual proceso de la Ley de Justicia y Paz para los familiares y allegados a los desaparecidos, asesinados, secuestrados y torturados por el paramilitarismo y la impunidad y poca celeridad de los procesos de justicia, que permitan conocer la verdad y acceder a la reparación.

This is a documentary that reflects the reality of the victims of armed conflict and specifically shows the current process of justice and peace for the families and relatives of the disappeared, killed, kidnapped and tortured by paramilitarism, impunity and the slow pace of the justice system, which lets us see the truth and allows access to redress.

For its part, El que piensa, gana gathers some opinions that appeared on Twitter in July, 2011, [es] like journalist [es] Jorge Luis Galeano (@pastoman) [es]:

Impactado por #IMPUNITY, los secretos a voces de este país contados desde el dolor de las víctimas y la crueldad de los victimarios

Impacted by # Impunity, the open secrets of this country, told through the pain of victims and the cruelty of the perpetrators.

Or the doctor and former mayor of Cali, Jorge Ivan Ospina (@JorgeIvanOspina) [es]:

#Impunity para pensar ,para deliberar,para que jamás vuelva a ocurrir,por nuestra gente,por la vida,por la supervivencia de nuestro pueblo

Impunity to think about, talk about, so it will never happen again, for our people, for life, for the survival of our country.

However, the reactions of 2011 aren't the only ones that have been seen on the net. On Sunday, January 29, 2012, Capital Channel aired the documentary, causing #Impunity to be trending on Twitter and revealing the common desire to end the Colombian internal armed conflict.

Nicolás Quintero on the blog El triciclo writes about how moved he was by the documentary [es]:

quedé anonadado y sumamente conmovido. Conmovido con el dolor de las víctimas y con rabia por la manera, en que, como sociedad, las hemos tratado, privilegiando el relato político del mal necesario a su propio dolor.

I was shocked and very touched. Moved by the pain of the victims and angry at the way in which, as a society, we have treated them, favoring the political narrative over the necessary evil of their own pain.

He continues:

Creo que lo importante de Impunity es que logra cambiar el eje en el cual la mayoría de la sociedad colombiana se ha acercado al problema del paramilitarismo. La teoría de que los que murieron tenían que morir, la teoría de que si murieron fue por algo. Pero al ver el llanto desgarrador, el dolor de tantas personas, uno se pregunta por qué le hemos dado razón, como sociedad, a esta teoría.

I think the importance of Impunity is that it manages to change the basis on which the majority of Colombian society has approached the problem of paramilitaries. The theory that those who died had to die, the theory that they died for something. But seeing the heartbreaking tears, the pain of so many people, one has to ask oneself why we have given credence, as a society, to this theory.

A few days later, netizens such as Silvia Alarcón (@silvialarcon) [es], asked:

@cass1808 viste #impunity? Nos arreglo la inv extranjera, movilidad, pero y los muertos? Los ignoramos x nuestra comodidad? Yo no!

@cass1808 did you watch #impunity? We've been fixed thanks to foreign investment, mobility, but what about the dead? Do we ignore them for our own comfort? I don't!

María Velasco also wrote in her blog [es], making it clear she was not a fan of Hollman Morris:

El documental es en verdad fuerte, y entiendo porque genera estas reacciones extremas. Pero, el hecho de que Hollman Morris sea propenso al show (por no decir una diva) no invalida por completo lo que dice.

También es bueno que recordar que los que más lo rechazan son en general, victimas de la guerrilla de una u otra forma, y que en su mente justifican el paramilitarismo. En Colombia casi todo el mundo es victima, por lo que es difícil discutir el conflcto [sic] de forma racional.

The documentary was truly strong, and I understand why it's generating such extreme reactions. But the fact that Hollman Morris tends toward putting on a show (if not an outright diva) doesn't completely invalidate what he says.

It's also good to remember that those who dismiss it the most are in general victims of the guerrillas in one form or another, and in their minds the paramilitaries are justified. In Colombia almost everyone is a victim, making it difficult to discuss the conflict in a rational way.

Similarly Pajarera del medio [es] commented:

es igualmente cierto que Impunity es menos “narrativa de urgencia” que la mayoría de trabajos documentales y periodísticos de Morris, limitados por su precario lenguaje audiovisual y contaminados del odio político del periodista (a fin de cuentas, dada su condición de estrella y por lo que se vio el lunes, ha sabido tomar lo suyo de las andanadas uribistas. Refiriéndose a que Morris ha sido reconocer por ser detractor del expresidente Álvaro Uribe.

It's equally true that Impunity is less an “urgent narrative” than most of Morris’ documentary and journalistic work, limited by his iffy visual language and contaminated by the journalistic hatred of politics (after all, given his star status and what we saw on Monday, he knows how to take advantage of the Uribe broadsides. Referring to Morris being known as a critic of ex-president Álvaro Uribe.)

At first the documentary was available on Vimeo, though several sites talked of “self-censorship” of the documentary [es]. In June, 2011, RNW (Radio Nederland Wereldomroep) interviewed [es] the filmmaker Juan Lozano:

¿Qué está impidiendo en Colombia la difusión del documental “Impunidad”?
[…] Nos enfrentamos a todas las presiones a las que las víctimas están enfrentadas a diario. Y no solamente las víctimas: también los magistrados de la Corte Suprema de Justicia, los abogados, los defensores de derechos humanos. Presiones que vienen de sectores oscuros que van desde intimidaciones, amenazas, interceptaciones ilegales de llamadas, correos electrónicos. […]

[…] We are facing all the same pressures that the victims face every day. And not only the victims: also the judges of the Supreme Court, lawyers, human rights defenders. Pressures from unseen areas ranging from intimidation, threats, illegal wiretapping of calls, emails. […]

The interview also asked about self-censorship:

¿Y a estas dificultades usted las llama un ambiente de autocensura?
[…] La situación en Colombia está muy polarizada y hay muchas personas en Bogotá que prefieren no complicarse la vida ni meterse en problemas, y eso significa no enseñar el documental.
En privado están a favor de la película y están de acuerdo en que estos temas hay que difundirlos de forma masiva, porque hemos filmado los últimos diez años de la histórica colombiana, algo que no se había hecho de forma audiovisual.
La película la tendremos que distribuir de manera alternativa en pueblos y ciudades del país. Es importante que la gente en las ciudades pueda ver este documental

[…] The situation in Colombia is highly polarized and there are many people in Bogotá who prefer not to complicate their lives or get involved, and that means not showing the documentary.
In private, they approve of the film and agree that these issues should be disseminated on a large scale, because we filmed the last ten years of Colombian history, something that had not been done before audiovisually.
We will have to distribute the film alternatively in towns and cities across the country. It is important that people in cities get to see this documentary.

In February of this year, netizens like Diana Marcela (@DianaMarcela) [es] confirmed that the links to see Impunity online had disappeared:

#Impunity fue censurado, lo había visto en vimeo y en youtube, ahora no esta en ningún lado! @HollmanMorris

Impunity was censored, I had seen it on Vimeo and on YouTube, but it now it isn't anywhere!

At the time of writing this post a 30 minute summary of the documentary  [es] can be found on the Internet, though the actual length of the film is 1 hour, 25 minutes. You can follow the latest news about the documentary on its official Facebook page [es].

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