The tragic aftereffects of a Colombian war were examined to see how political and economic factors outweighed the importance of fair trials at Ithaca College’s screening of “Impunity: What Kind of War for Colombia” Tuesday night in Textor 101.
The film screening was sponsored by the politics department and hosted by Patricia Rodriguez, assistant professor of politics. There were more than 30 students at the screening and a question-and-answer session after with John Laun, president of the Colombia Support Network. CSN is a national grassroots organization based in Madison, Wis., that has been focusing on providing assistance to the Colombian indigenous communities by creating sister communities between cities and communities in the U.S. and in Colombia.
The movie, created by Colombian filmmaker Juan Jose Lozano and video journalist Hollman Morris, documented the demobilization processes and trials of the Colombian paramilitary. It also explored the reconciliation process for the victims by looking into the impact on the victims’ families through firsthand interviews with them. The documentary focused on the economic and political interests tied to the failure of the trials.Before the screening, Laun provided the audience with context and background about the movie by explaining how the Justice and Peace law was only partially carried out.
Josh Tucker, a visiting graduate student from the University of Alaska, said the film was an educational experience.
“It’s important to see the mass grave even though it’s uncomfortable, and in fact it’s probably going to stick with me for a while,” Tucker said. “I’m glad I came. It’s an enriching experience.”
Rodriguez said it was her first time seeing the film, and she learned just as much as the students.
“It’s so surreal, the brutality, you can see in the film, how much they don’t care about human beings,” Rodriguez said. “That was the difficult part, but I was also glad that the film talks about the political, and economic interests and players behind it. That’s an important, big part of the story. That’s something that doesn’t normally get told. ”
Freshman Gustavo Gonzalez said the movie affected him more on a personal level.
“I know some of the stuff that happened due to my Colombian background, but seeing all of these events put together into one documentary was completely mind-boggling,” Gonzalez said. “I also know some family members that live in the rural parts of Colombia, and the fact that they are at risk of this happening to them simply caused me to be shocked for not only them, but to the ‘campesinos’ and other people living in these war-torn areas of the country.”
During the question-and-answer session, students asked questions about the U.S. role in the extradition of the Colombian criminals for drug trafficking instead of handing them over to the Colombian authority, which is another aspect the documentary touched on. Laun, in his response to this question, called for students at Ithaca College to join CSN and appeal to the Department of Justice to get the war criminals back to Colombia.
“It’s frustrating that the answer isn’t forthcoming for the people that have suffered the war crime, ” Laun said.
Rodriguez said the students responded well to the documentary. She said that she intends to hold more documentary screenings to engage the students.
“I am also glad to see that students were taking it in,”Rodriguez said. “They were really soaking it in.”