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Colombia: Stories That Kill

Colombia: Stories That Kill

(Latin Pulse: July 2, 2009) Plagued by violence, drug trafficking, and corruption, Colombia is one of the world's most dangerous places to be a journalist. We look at what kind of speech is being silenced, by whom, and how. Today, independent journalists working up against the boundaries of free speech share with us their struggle to tell the stories of the country's bloody reality, a task they feel is key to creating more peaceful Colombia. Join us as our team, supported by Mark Schapiro of the Center for Investigative Reporting, speaks with award-winning journalist Hollman Morris, who explains why the secret police monitor his activities and the president calls him a terrorist. He and others like him work to expose the reasons and effects of Colombias conflicts. They speak out despite the risk to their lives to give voice to the victims of war, the indigenous, and the opposition, working to achieve peace.

FEATURED PARTNERS

Center for Investigative Reporting http://www.centerforinvestigativereporting.org/

Contravia

http://www.contravia.tv

Morris Productions

http://www.morrisproducciones.com

HOLLMAN MORRIS - BIO

Morris has spent most of his career covering Colombia's internal armed conflict, with a particular focus on human rights issues. He has done this in a variety of settings: through local and national radio, television, newspapers, as a documentary filmmaker, and independent writer.In his coverage of the conflict Morris has been fiercely committed to uncovering the truth about atrocities committed by both sets of illegal armed groups in the country: right-wing paramilitaries and left-wing guerrillas. Morris has not shied away from covering abuses committed by government authorities such as the police or military. His work has done a great deal to shed light on the conflict's impact on Colombias most vulnerable -- and often forgotten -- citizens. Morris spent 1999-2000 as a correspondent for Television Channel RCN in San Vicente del Caguan, where the Pastrana administration was conducting peace negotiations with the leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). During this time, Morris produced a number of special reports on the peace negotiations, including a series of pieces designed to educate the public at large on the details of the resulting agreements.He was also among the few journalists covering the atrocities that the FARC was committing in the zona de distension the Switzerland-sized piece of territory that the government ceded to the FARC to incentivize negotiations.In 2000 Morris founded and became the editor of the Peace and Human Rights Section of El Espectador, one of Colombias two most prominent newspapers. In this capacity, Morris wrote numerous articles on the Colombian conflict, including pieces on Colombias disappeared, the problem of impunity for human rights abuses, the practice of confinement (by which armed groups strictly limit access to and exit from certain communities), the situation of the so-called communities of resistance in the region of El Choco, and the FARCs involvement in the assassination of U.S. citizens.After having to leave Colombia under threat in 2000, Morris wrote and published his first book, Operacin Ballena Azul. The books tells the true story of how the M-19 guerrilla group stole a cache of weapons, and how Colombias armed forces recovered them. Through this story, the book also gives an account of systematic human rights violations during a particular period of Colombias history.While in Spain, Morris also continued writing articles about the Colombian conflict. One of his stories dealt with the number of people who had been forced to leave Colombia as a result of threats.

CONTRAVIA - BIO

Starting in July 2003, Morris Productions and Communications assumed the difficult task of developing a national television program named Contravia (going against the right of way). The program is dedicated to promoting and defending Human Rights in Colombia. The show has received the recognition of the Colombian Press and in April 2004 was awarded the Premio India Catalina by the Corporation of the Film Festival of Cartagena, Colombia. This prize is awarded to the best journalism report in the country. That same year, in November, after issuing sixty reports, the program was also awarded the Simon Bolivar National Prize for the best report in television, in this case, the Jaime Garzon report. The report investigated the murder of Jaime Garzon, a well known political activist who often criticized Colombian politics as corrupt and believed peace could only be achieved if the government committed to a dialogue with armed groups in the country. It was this position that made him a target for ultra right armed groups who threatened and eventually killed Mr. Garzon. The report included interviews of the lawyers involved in the case and Garzons family members and eventually concluded that the investigation of the murder was being misguided and manipulated by political forces who did not want the truth to be known. The report criticized the nations Attorney General for not doing enough to bring Garzons killers to justice. This position was shared by the Judge who heard the case and agreed with many of the findings reported by the program Contravia.

Click here to watch this video in the original Spanish.

Colombia: Stories That Kill

(Latin Pulse: July 2, 2009) Plagued by violence, drug trafficking, and corruption, Colombia is one of the world's most dangerous places to be a journalist. We look at what kind of speech is being silenced, by whom, and how. Today, independent journalists working up against the boundaries of free speech share with us their struggle to tell the stories of the country's bloody reality, a task they feel is key to creating more peaceful Colombia. Join us as our team, supported by Mark Schapiro of the Center for Investigative Reporting, speaks with award-winning journalist Hollman Morris, who explains why the secret police monitor his activities and the president calls him a terrorist. He and others like him work to expose the reasons and effects of Colombias conflicts. They speak out despite the risk to their lives to give voice to the victims of war, the indigenous, and the opposition, working to achieve peace.

FEATURED PARTNERS

Center for Investigative Reporting http://www.centerforinvestigativereporting.org/

Contravia

http://www.contravia.tv

Morris Productions

http://www.morrisproducciones.com

HOLLMAN MORRIS - BIO

Morris has spent most of his career covering Colombia's internal armed conflict, with a particular focus on human rights issues. He has done this in a variety of settings: through local and national radio, television, newspapers, as a documentary filmmaker, and independent writer.In his coverage of the conflict Morris has been fiercely committed to uncovering the truth about atrocities committed by both sets of illegal armed groups in the country: right-wing paramilitaries and left-wing guerrillas. Morris has not shied away from covering abuses committed by government authorities such as the police or military. His work has done a great deal to shed light on the conflict's impact on Colombias most vulnerable -- and often forgotten -- citizens. Morris spent 1999-2000 as a correspondent for Television Channel RCN in San Vicente del Caguan, where the Pastrana administration was conducting peace negotiations with the leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). During this time, Morris produced a number of special reports on the peace negotiations, including a series of pieces designed to educate the public at large on the details of the resulting agreements.He was also among the few journalists covering the atrocities that the FARC was committing in the zona de distension the Switzerland-sized piece of territory that the government ceded to the FARC to incentivize negotiations.In 2000 Morris founded and became the editor of the Peace and Human Rights Section of El Espectador, one of Colombias two most prominent newspapers. In this capacity, Morris wrote numerous articles on the Colombian conflict, including pieces on Colombias disappeared, the problem of impunity for human rights abuses, the practice of confinement (by which armed groups strictly limit access to and exit from certain communities), the situation of the so-called communities of resistance in the region of El Choco, and the FARCs involvement in the assassination of U.S. citizens.After having to leave Colombia under threat in 2000, Morris wrote and published his first book, Operacin Ballena Azul. The books tells the true story of how the M-19 guerrilla group stole a cache of weapons, and how Colombias armed forces recovered them. Through this story, the book also gives an account of systematic human rights violations during a particular period of Colombias history.While in Spain, Morris also continued writing articles about the Colombian conflict. One of his stories dealt with the number of people who had been forced to leave Colombia as a result of threats.

CONTRAVIA - BIO

Starting in July 2003, Morris Productions and Communications assumed the difficult task of developing a national television program named Contravia (going against the right of way). The program is dedicated to promoting and defending Human Rights in Colombia. The show has received the recognition of the Colombian Press and in April 2004 was awarded the Premio India Catalina by the Corporation of the Film Festival of Cartagena, Colombia. This prize is awarded to the best journalism report in the country. That same year, in November, after issuing sixty reports, the program was also awarded the Simon Bolivar National Prize for the best report in television, in this case, the Jaime Garzon report. The report investigated the murder of Jaime Garzon, a well known political activist who often criticized Colombian politics as corrupt and believed peace could only be achieved if the government committed to a dialogue with armed groups in the country. It was this position that made him a target for ultra right armed groups who threatened and eventually killed Mr. Garzon. The report included interviews of the lawyers involved in the case and Garzons family members and eventually concluded that the investigation of the murder was being misguided and manipulated by political forces who did not want the truth to be known. The report criticized the nations Attorney General for not doing enough to bring Garzons killers to justice. This position was shared by the Judge who heard the case and agreed with many of the findings reported by the program Contravia.

Click here to watch this video in the original Spanish.

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Latin Pulse/Pulso Latino

Latin Pulse brings you weekly 30-minute analysis of news and public affairs in Latin America, brought to you via podcast in cooperation with American University School of Communication and Link TV.
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