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From left to right: Tom Laffay, Hector Marino Carabalí, Emily Wright, Daniel Bustos Echeverry, and Slought's Gwynne Fulton and Aaron Levy
From left to right: Tom Laffay, Hector Marino Carabalí, Emily Wright, Daniel Bustos Echeverry, and Slought's Gwynne Fulton and Aaron Levy. Photo: Alejandro Jaramillo

Filmmakers reveal extent of violence in Colombia

Since November 2016, 343 social leaders have been assassinated in Colombia. It's a reality highlighted by the new short film, "Nos están matando," or "They're…

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A crew of international filmmakers stopped in Philadelphia on Saturday as part of an east coast tour to showcase their documentary about the dangers facing social leaders in Colombia today, following the signing of a landmark peace deal in 2016 between the FARC rebel group and the Colombian government which officially ended more than 50 years of civil war in the country.

Tom Laffay of the U.S., Emily Wright of England, and Daniel Bustos Echeverry of Colombia, along with Afro-descendent social leader Héctor Marino Carabalí, one of the film’s two main subjects, shared their 20-minute film entitled "Nos están matando," or "They’re Killing Us," at Slought, a nonprofit organization on the University of Pennsylvania campus that encourages dialogue about cultural and sociopolitical change. Alejandro Jaramillo, a Colombian visual anthropologist and documentary filmmaker, moderated the event.

According to the filmmakers, 343 social leaders have been assassinated in Colombia since the signing of the country’s peace deal in November 2016.

“We set out to make this film as a platform to create discussion and dialogue on this issue, at a time when a lot more focus has been on the FARC demobilization in the country, and we felt the need to really try to bring this to the forefront of the discussion,” Laffay said, as he introduced the film to the more than 50 people who attended Saturday evening.

"Nos están matando" follows Marino and fellow social leader, Feliciano Valencia, of the Nasa indigenous community in Cauca, a state in southwest Colombia, providing a snapshot of the dangers facing them as their country attempts to navigate its way toward peace.

Before stopping in Philadelphia, the team held a viewing in Washington, DC, where they were also able to meet with Congressional aides and the State Department to discuss the ongoing violence in Colombia.

“Basically, today we are insisting to the U.S. government, which has direct involvement in Colombia, that the new Colombian President Ivan Duque implement the peace accords as they were written when signed,” Marino told AL DÍA after the screening, referring to the country’s new right-wing president who is aligned with opponents of the peace deal.

Marino, who is also from Cauca, has received threats on his life since 2008, primarily from paramilitary groups operating in the country. Still, he remains hopeful.

I’m a dreamer, I’m an optimist,” said Marino. “We are convinced that this tour, meeting with the U.S. government and Congressmen, will yield a positive outcome, even if they don’t follow what we say 100 percent.”

The film crew is making stops in Newark and New York this week before returning to Colombia.

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