For over 40 years, Colombia has suffered from a violent armed conflict in which around 4,500 people, most of them civilians, lose their lives every year. The conflict has led to a massive internal displacement of 4 million people and thousands of refugees, mainly to neighbouring countries such as Venezuela and Ecuador.
These border problems in the Colombia–Venezuela–Ecuador sub-region remain practically invisible to the media and to the public opinion at large. There is little comprehensive analysis on topics such as internally displaced persons and refugees, nor regarding matters of urban and rural security and new dynamics of criminality and the countries’ mafias.
The coverage of topics involving the internal armed conflict, drug trafficking as well as mining and oil interests on the border zones varies according to whether the media are local or national. For journalists based in these zones, it is very risky and costly to deal with such matters, which has led to an increase in self-censorship. The omnipresence of illegal armed groups in the border zones has also created territories and topics that are off limits for provincial journalism, which limits the media’s role in strengthening democracy and public debate.
IMS has worked with a range of local media support actors in Colombia since 2003 to both improve journalists’ safety and to support conflict sensitive reporting. In early 2012, IMS began a pilot phase of a regional programme targeting the volatile border regions. Working with a select group of highly experienced media support and human rights’ organisations in Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador, we have carefully built direct relations with many local media outlets in the border areas and their accompanying journalist networks.
Contact person for Colombia
Adviser, Global Response
Latin American Association for Radio Education (ALER)
Funcacíon de Nuevo Periodismo Íberamericana (FNPI)
Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP)
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