In Colombia, an estimated 83,000 people have been forcibly disappeared since 1958. But peace accords between the government and the FARC, the country’s largest guerrilla group, in 2016 mandated that finding the missing was a necessary step toward reconciliation. Special correspondent Nadja Drost reports from Colombia on how loved ones suffering a “never-ending grief” are searching for closure.
Despite the peace deal, new waves of deadly violence are hitting many areas of Colombia, especially those once under FARC-rebel control. And it’s targeting the very people — activists and social leaders — for whom the peace deal was supposed to make life safer. Special correspondent Nadja Drost and videographer Bruno Federico report in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
The people of Colombia thought they had left their tumultuous past behind, but in the port town of Buenaventura, violence, poverty and drugs are all too present in people’s minds. In the city of nearly 400,000 people, 40 percent are unemployed and 80 percent are impoverished. To make matters worse, the people say that the government has abandoned them, leaving a power vacuum.
Heroes Do Exist in Colombia was the name of the first major military propaganda campaign rolled out during ex-president Alvaro Uribe’s (2002-2010) Democratic Security Policy.
The government’s publicists reached for the hearts and minds of Colombians using emotional narratives of war and by constructing an image of the military based on the figure of hero and protector of a population vulnerable in the face of a guerrilla insurgency.
Aimed at convincing Colombians of the need for a security policy at any cost, the propaganda strategy also served as a way to conceal the reproachable role of the government during one of the cruelest periods of the armed conflict marked by paramilitary violence, political corruption and the military practice of inflating body counts by killing innocent civilians.
Aiming for the Heart shows how publicity campaigns become yet another battle ground in the armed conflict, trying to legitimize a war through propaganda and win the support of a divided society.
Direction: Claudia Gordillo and Bruno Federico
Original Idea: Claudia Gordillo
Research Assistant: Camilo Medina
Photography and editing: Bruno Federico
Production: Dance Stationary
Music: Music Multimedia
Duration: 52 minutes