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Witnessing a Horrible Past and an Uncertain Future

Maria Paula Unigarro Alba

Posted on July 8, 2019 21:26

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Jesús Abad Colorado captures the impact of Colombian armed conflict by photographing its protagonists. The devastating effects of war should be enough of a reminder for the current government to prevent such atrocities from keep happening.

El Testigo (The Witness) is a documentary that exposes the history of the Colombian armed conflict captured by photographer/journalist Jesus Abad Colorado. It provides the victims’ perspective on violent events using subtle images which are terribly moving. Viewers can easily perceive the profound impact war has on the picture's protagonists.

Two women in the film share a common pain: their parents were assassinated when they were little girls. Jeimy’s mom was killed by paramilitaries. She was then raised by her grandmother. Many years after losing her mother she is asked if she believes in the peace process taking place in Colombia. She does not hesitate when answering the question -- she doesn't believe she will see peace. The resentment in her words is evident to spectator.

Similarly, Camila lost her parents and siblings in the hands of paramilitaries and the military. Afterwards, she joined FARC guerrilla. She is now committed to the peace process and participates in the reintegration program. When interviewed, she said she recognizes the importance of forgiving in order to reconcile. In fact, she claims to be willing to forgive her family’s murderers.

Jeimy and Camila are daughters of war. They are entitled to decide whether to keep hating or to forgive the perpetrators. This is the least they deserve in order to preserve their dignity.

Such is not the case for government representatives who cannot put personal beliefs before their public obligation. They are mandated to act according to law and to pursue the common good. Sadly, the current president Ivan Duque is far from performing as per his legal obligations. The government is sabotaging the peace agreement while arguing that is represents those Colombians who oppose it.

Recently, they have used the chaos created by alias Jesus Santrich – one of the most despised FARC leaders – as an excuse. He was accused of being implicated in drug trafficking after the agreement came into force. His case involved a series of legal complexities which resulted in the decision of the Supreme Court to allow him to act as congressman while the investigation continued. As many warned, he used this to escape justice.

Santrich must be condemned for the crimes he committed before and after signing the peace accord. Nevertheless, it is not ethical for a government to use a particular case to discredit a process that involves approximately 7.000 ex-combatants. It is not honest to show Santrich as perfect proof of the peace agreement being damaging to the country. Not when there are several initiatives led by former guerrilla members which have to do with building roads for remote communities, serving biology research expeditions, developing productive projects for peasants, and more.

By highlighting specific cases of former fighters’ breaches, this government is disrupting the opportunity to end war. There is a constitutional duty to guarantee peace. Moreover, the government is failing people like Camila who, despite having lost their relatives to war, are still willing to forgive and reconcile.

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Source: The Wrap

With the light-shining power of journalism, the scourge of sexual impropriety, and the privileged status of old white men...

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