Last Wednesday, 24 August, the first session of “Sin Serrucho” in 2022 took place. Jesús Abad Colorado was invited to a conversation about his professional career and experience of corruption and the armed conflict in Colombia. Jesús Abad is a prominent photographer and journalist whose work has been mainly focused on portraying the victims of the armed conflict, as can be seen in one of his most famous works “El Testigo” (“The Witness”).
The conversation focused on major themes and challenges such as the forms of violence that have most affected the country and Jesus’ personal perspective on it.
Jesús shared his view that those people who have always been the most affected by the war are the indigenous groups, Afro communities and other vulnerable people. He went on to say that Colombia is a country with mental illnesses, where there is talk of moors, rivers and jungles while simultaneously these are destroyed; he also pointed out the lack of political culture and the normalization of violence from many different positions.
He explained that corruption increases inequality, which in turn perpetuates violence in the country, since the leaders seek to favour and recompense their political factions and in doing so ignore the needs of the people. An example of this is the reference he made to false positives and the murder of young people because of the need for employment and education in the country’s less favored communities.
For Jesús, the job of journalists is to give a voice, a name and a face to those who have been affected by inequality and violence. He considers it an ethical duty to tell the story of Colombia’s victims and of those who remain. The memory that remains is made thinking about the future, and by focusing on the fact that the multiplicity of violence that has occurred in the country cannot be repeated.
Hope is one of the themes that Jesus emphasizes. For him, Colombia is a country that has land, and although it is poorly distributed, he reiterated with enthusiasm that he never ceases to be amazed by the number of beautiful people, wonderful stories and the love for the land that is found across the country, despite its bitter challenges. He went on to say that a change in the educational sector is necessary, with teachers who are committed to life and teach with a love for others and nature. In a country where there is an abundance of natural resources, he believes that all of us “must lay a brick to rebuild the house that we have destroyed so many times.”
The central axis of Jesús Abad Colorado’s work is hope. With his final reflection, he made it clear that his work can not only show the pain that is felt in the country, but also its hope. With his professionalism, courage and spirit, he shared the joy that comes from meeting his colleagues, for “staying alive, because they have hope for the future”. Enthusiastically he concluded by saying that: “A tree is not planted to enjoy the fruit, but so that the generations that come after can enjoy it; because the efforts made to improve the country are made so that those generations to come have the possibility of having a better quality of life”.