Colombia: Citizen Journalist Threatened Over Viral Video

Citizen journalist Bladimir Sánchez has already received threats for making a video showing the forced evictions of farmers and fishermen protesting the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the department of Huila, Colombia on February 14 and 15. In less than three days, more than 600,000 people have watched it.

On Publimetro [es], Camilo Andrés García Cortés states that the video may be making history as the most watched Colombian citizen video, due to its half a million views during only two days. The Video the Colombian Government Doesn't Want Us to See [es] shows the violent eviction faced by two river bank communities standing up peacefully against the building of the dam, and pulls together the testimonies of those who faced the violence and were injured.

The communities are against the dam construction because it will leave them without livelihoods if the river is diverted for the project. When describing the clash that injured protesters, both the community members and journalists present describe that there was no violence towards the authorities in spite of the attacks, and that the police restricted the access of journalists, peace observers and human right organizations to the area of the protest.

La acción violenta se cumplió coordinadamente entre el Gobierno Nacional y Emgesa contra campesinos y pescadores inermes cuya única respuesta fue cogerse solidariamente de las manos para abrazar el río Magdalena o lanzarse al mismo, mientras recibían cargas de gases lacrimógenos y granadas de aturdimiento, ocasionando varios heridos, entre ellos, el obrero de construcción Luis Carlos Trujillo Obregón quien perdió su ojo derecho.

The violent action was accomplished in coordination between the National Government and Emgesa [Ed.Note. Private Company granted the concession for the hydroelectric dam] against unarmed farmers and fishermen whose only response was to hold each other by the hands to hug the Magdalena River or jump into it as they were buffeted by tear gas and stun grenades, causing several injuries including the ones on construction worker Luis Carlos Trujillo Obregón who lost his right eye.

On the interview with Publimetro [es] Bladimir discussed the threats he's received:

Recibí una llamada No aparece el número de la persona en el identificador (…) Me han enviado mensajes a mi correo. Me dicen que soy de las Farc, del ELN, que estoy atacando a la fuerza pública. Yo no soy nada de eso. Simplemente soy un realizador audiovisual que quiere mostrar la realidad de lo que pasa en el departamento del Huila.

I received a call, the number doesn't show up on the call identifier (-) I've been sent messages to my mail. They say that I belong to the FARC, the ELN, that I am attacking the public police force. I am none of that. I am simply a videographer that wants to show the reality of what is happening in the department of Huila.

In his Facebook page Zeitgeist Huila [es], Bladimir posted on February 23 [es] that he had been receiving threatening calls, one including death threats.


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