History will not be forgotten in Colombia | Latin America | DW | 30.07.2018
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Latin America

History will not be forgotten in Colombia

The peace treaty signed with the FARC guerrillas has divided politicians and citizens in Colombia. DW Akademie supports journalistic reappraisal projects.

Kolumbien Schritt zur Versöhnung in Granada Angehörige von Opfern (DW/M. Kopp)

Reconciliation is a difficult step to take: Some relatives of guerrilla victims are very concerned that one of the peace treaty’s results could be parliamentary and political positions for former FARC members.

It takes courage and a lot of work to heal the wounds of the past. For decades, Colombia was in the grip of a civil war. The conflict that began in 1964 led to ongoing fighting between left-wing guerillas, right-wing paramilitaries and the army. In 2017, FARC rebels surrendered their weapons after lengthy negotiations, and Colombian President Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

But coming to terms with decades of violence is proving to be a slow process. Together with local partners in Granada and Sonsón, DW Akademie supports the journalistic debate on the conflict. For the first time ever, project partners from both cities report on their experiences in videos. The project will expand to include the municipalities of El Carmen de Viboral and San Carlos. 

Bringing the history of the city to schools

In Granada, members of a local victims' association, journalists and experts have been working together since 2015 to come to terms with the history of struggles and violence in the city. In the town of 10,000 inhabitants, ten massacres were committed, 460 people were murdered, 98 kidnapped and a car bomb destroyed four blocks in the city center.

The journalists, victims and experts tell the stories of the people in Granada. With their multimedia presentation, they go to schools to get young people involved in the reconciliation process. DW Akademie has supported this project from the very beginning. The people in Granada now want to maintain it themselves and exchange ideas with other places that share similar experiences.

Breaking the silence

Sonsón is one of those places. The small rural town in the Antioquia department was also the scene of the civil war. Today, the journalism faculty of the University of Antioquia is located there. In workshops on the civil war, students and local journalists from TV Sonsón work together with relatives of the victims and they have already made two documentary films.

Natalia Grisales, editor-in-chief of TV Sonsón, says that everyone involved learned a great deal from the project. "We worked with the victims of violence. That was a great enrichment, not only academically and journalistically - but also on a human level," she explains.