|Place||:||United States / Colombia|
|Categories||:||Violence; Human Rights; Historical Memory; Colombia|
|Camera & Sound||:||Ricardo Velasco|
|Original Score||:||Ricardo Velasco|
After the Crossfire documents the emergence and escalation of the armed conflict in Colombia’s northern pacific coast during the 1990’s, giving voice to victims who bear witness to the effects of war on the civilian population of the region. Through their memories and experiences, their testimonies open fundamental questions about trauma and its traces, the silence and invisibility in which displaced populations live, and the complex ethical and moral demands the victims face when impunity and oblivion prevail over justice and truth.
Colombia has endured the longest armed conflict of the western hemisphere, dating back to the early 1950’s with the emergence of the period of civil war known as “La Violencia”. Since then, endless cycles of violence have swept the country affecting dramatically its entire social and economic fabric, its institutions; causing irreparable human loses and the internal exodus of millions of people, who have forcefully lost their lands and means of subsistence. Until recently, Colombia held the greatest number of internal displaced population in the world, superseded only by Syria in the last two years.
The problem of violence has been persistent, its actors and perpetrators have changed and transformed over the years, as well as the discourses used to explain, the strategies used to resist or the policies implemented to deal with this increasingly complex phenomenon.
“After the Crossfire: Memories of Violence and Displacement” tells about the emergence and escalation of the conflict in the Northern Pacific Coast of the State of Chocó, near the Panama isthmus. You will hear the testimonies of a group of witnesses who have experienced the plague of war in this remote and marginalized region. As in thousands of other cases throughout Colombia, the majority of the events narrated by them have remained in oblivion for years. Only one mayor event that took place in 1999 was reported in national television, but used as part of a specific political agenda during the peace talks between the government of Andrés Pastrana (1998-2002) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Prior to the decade of 1990, the area had relatively remained a haven of peace, although subjected to poverty, precarious social development and the abandonment from the institutions of the state. I know this by personal experience. I have visited the area since early childhood. My mother grew up there. My grandparents had settled in Bahía Solano to raise their family, after fleeing from the interior of the country in the decade of the 1950's, when La Violencia escalated and guerrilla groups started fighting against the systematic repression of rural peasant communities by the state - and with the same ferocity.
But even though guerilla groups had presence in the region since the decade of 1970, it was only in the 1990´s with the arrival of paramilitary organizations that events of violence started to take place. Financed by powerful political and economic sectors, including multinational corporations, these groups were formed to counteract the power that guerrilla groups gained throughout the rural areas of Colombia, precisely where key economic and strategic military interests collide.
The emergence of violence in the region coincides also with other mayor cultural and structural changes. After a constitutional reform in 1991, which for the first time in history gave recognition to black and indigenous communities living in the region as cultural and ethnic minorities, a 1993 law gave collective land titles comprising almost five million hectares to black communities in the pacific coast region.
This empowerment of black minorities put in danger a dominant model of capitalist exploitation, particularly in the sectors of timber, mining and the emergent model of large-scale industrial agriculture, notably in the palm oil sector. As soon as communal leaders started to organize to claim their land rights, assassinations, disappearances and massive forced displacements disrupted the lives of the communities of the pacific coast.
This is a crucial moment for coming to terms with the past in Colombia. No other sector is as important to build a lasting peace in the country as the large population of victims that the armed conflict has left. Their memories are statements against injustice and as such, they inherently demand the necessity of social change.
Through their testimonies, victims bring forward the fundamental ethical and moral questions of our times. They make the listener become secondary witness to the accounts enunciated. But the witness, as critical philosopher Reyes Mate has rightly pointed out, cannot bring closure to truth with a word that pretends to be definite. On the contrary, the fundamental importance of a witness lies in the fact that her or his word prevents any case from being closed, from being archived in a determined version.
Se generó aquí en Bahía Solano una incertidumbre tremenda porque a raíz de la venida de la gente de Juradó también se desplazaron paramilitares que se ubicaron aquí como a cobrar, digamos, en personas muchas veces inocentes, el supuesto hecho de haber participado o haber patrocinado la presencia de la guerrilla.
El año 1999 fue un año de zozobra... eso empezó a mediados del año, entre el mes de junio y julio. Casi cada ocho días, cada quince días traían uno o dos cadáveres de allá arriba que la guerrilla los habían ajusticiado porque habían hecho parte del otro grupo.
Cuando nos desplazamos de Juradó, yo miraba mucho cuando la lancha avanzaba, miraba mucho hacia el pueblo y era desgarrante el dolor, ver como todo lo que pasó y tener uno como que salir así de esa manera, muy doloroso.
Y eso era lo que más a nosotros nos daba tristeza, que nosotros salimos de Juradó de vivir una situación tan crítica … con ese trauma tan duro que acabábamos de tener y llegar acá y encontrarnos como con cosas peores .... daba como tanta tristeza de ver, y fue una represalia que en realidad los militares tomaron con la gente del pueblo de Juradó y todo el Juradoseño que llegaba acá le decían guerrillero, lo trataban de guerrillero, lo que era casi un sentencia de muerte.
Todas estas cosas vivimos nosotros. Son cosas que en realidad le traen recuerdos muy lamentables a uno, que uno no quisiera que esto se repitiera, por eso es importante que en este país hablemos en sentido general de la paz y que algún día llegue la paz a este país, que haya de verdad un equilibrio social en donde todos sus habitantes vivamos de una manera digna.
I am a social documentary media producer, director and scholar, PhD Candidate of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. My prior academic merits include a Master of Arts Degree in Social Documentation from the Department of Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz, a MA degree in Cultural Studies from the University of the Andes in Bogotá, and a Bachelor of Music degree with Major in Sound Engineering and Minor in Composition and Production. My work can be located at the interface between critical inquiry and creative documentary practice in the fields of cultural and visual studies, memory studies and visual anthropology. My research encompasses violence, trauma, human rights, and transitional justice in contemporary Colombia, focusing on the political potential of art and the use of new media technologies among artistic collectives and organizations of victims of the Colombian armed conflict. I have been recipient of several scholarships, fellowships and grants, including the Evan Frankel Fellowship in the Humanities and the Teresa Lozano Long Fellowship (2015-2018) of the University of Texas at Austin, and the Human Rights Fellowship of the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley (2013).
I have several years of experience in the film and television industry. Since 2006, I have played key roles in a wide range of broadcasting quality productions: as documentary director and producer, as sound designer, composer and producer of original music. In 2014, I produced and directed 13 short documentary programs, commissioned by the Cultural Deputy of the Colombian Bank of the Republic. “After the Crossfire: Memories of Violence and Displacement”, my first film, was screened at Del Mar theater in Santa Cruz, California, on June 11th, 2014, and is being considered for screening by several international human rights film festivals. My previous audiovisual works, which include video-art and photography pieces, have been shown in important international venues such as the Museum of Modern Art of Bogotá MAMBO, the Cultural Centre of the Embassy of France, the District Cinematheque Institute and the Humboldt Cultural Centre in Caracas, Venezuela, and the Casa Cuadrada Gallery in Bogotá and Zürich, Switzerland.
BOGOSHORTS. December 9-15, 2015
Bogotá, Medellín, Cartagena. May 24-28, 2016.
Incomplete: The Unsaid and the Undone, Inaugural Graduate Student Conference. Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
The Other Side of Memory: Forgetting, Denial, Repression. Mnemonics 2016 Summer School University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Places of Amnesia: Interdisciplinary perspectives on forgotten pasts.
SocDoc Class of 2014 MA Program in Social Documentation Department of Film and Digital Media University of California Santa Cruz