Listen this article
On Thursday, May 9, filmmaker Mauricio Lezama was murdered in Arauca, Colombia. One more blow to activism in regions unprotected by the State
The police inspector of the municipality of Arauquita, José Gregorio Orduz, informed RCN on May 9 that the filmmaker and cultural manager Mauricio Lezama had been killed in the afternoon by motorcyclists who shot him and his partner Ricardo Llain, who was treated at the hospital and is out of danger. The murder was carried out in a village of La Esmeralda township on public roads.
Leer en español: Colombia: Mauricio Lezama es asesinado en las vísperas de un rodaje
The governor of Arauca, Ricardo Alvarado Bestene, said in a Twitter video that the attack had been carried out by a group of FARC dissidents. Also, according to statements made by El Espectador, Alvarado assured the killers' motivations that "apparently, they tried to point out is that he was a person who could be an informant".
Gobernador de Arauca, Ricardo Alvarado Bestene, informó que guerrilleros disidentes de las Farc son los asesinos de Mauricio Lezama, consejero departamental de Cine (secretaría de Cultura), quien grababa testimonios de víctimas de la violencia en La Esmeralda, Arauquita. pic.twitter.com/60pMUaEGhl— Miguel Cardoza Cadenas (@MiguelCardoza) May 10, 2019
What was Lezama doing in the area?
Lezama also held the post of Departmental Film Advisor of Arauca, so his interest in the stories of the area was already known. The filmmaker was in the area to perform the casting of his next short film.
Thanks to the encouragement of Proimagenes and the prize for regional stories from the Fund for Cinematographic Development, he was going to make a short film about the activist Mayo Villareal, leader of the region and survivor of the state assassinations of former members of the Patriotic Union, the political party of Colombian left in the 80s.
According to information collected by El Mirador, Arauca newspaper, about the script of the short film, "The story, written by Tonni Villarreal, based on real events (...) tells the last hours that Mayo Villarreal, a nurse and teacher of La Esmeralda she saw her husband, Arsenio, alive, a merchant owner of the only drugstore in the area at the time; murdered by members of the National Army accused of being a collaborator of the guerrilla".
Thus, the realization of violence at the time due to the war between armed groups and the national army ended up repeating the end of Villareal's husband, a victim of the accusations or assumptions of one of the groups.
You may be interested: Latin America: a hostile territory for press freedom
Rejections and calls for protection
The statements by politicians and other organizations did not take long to be heard.
On the one hand, there are those who reject acts of violence and the continuation of these attacks. Within that is the councilman of the municipality of Arauquita, Miguel Esteban, who, in statements to El Tiempo, said: "how long will they continue to kill us? We dream of Arauquita and the department to be prosperous, touristic, self-sufficient and entrepreneurial, but one hundred steps forward, and with facts like today, 1,000 steps back, this is not the way ".
The Colombian Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences affirmed in the same vein that "we deeply regret the assassination of the Departmental Film Director of Arauca and cultural manager Mauricio Lezama, which occurred today in the municipality of La Esmeralda. We reject all forms of violence. "Finally, the defense minister, Guillermo Botero, also stressed on Twitter his rejection and said that the prosecution, the army, and the police were on their way to conduct the investigation.
Rechazamos el asesinato de Mauricio Lezama, quien trabajaba como gestor cultural en Arauca, hecho ocurrido en la zona de La Esmeralda, Arauquita.— Guillermo Botero (@GuillermoBotero) May 10, 2019
Desde el momento del hecho se desplazaron equipos de @PoliciaArauca, @Ejercito_Div8 y @FiscaliaCol para adelantar actos urgentes.
On the other hand, there are organizations that not only reject acts but also call for action to prevent these acts. The Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights Chapter-Arauca, according to El Espectador, demanded "the Government to speed up the investigation of this murder and bring those responsible behind bars, also requires the Government and the public force to protect life of the citizens inasmuch as the force of force and the militarization of the Department of Arauca have increased . " Ultimately, they not only condemn the act but also ask that the government improves security in the areas it least reaches.
Also calling for greater security in the area, although in this case for journalists and activists, the coordinator of the Program in Central and South America of Comity to Protect Journalist (CJP), Natalie Southwick, affirmed that "the killing of Mauricio Lezama Rengifo is the latest and most alarming incident in a pattern of threats and violence against those reporting near Colombia's border with Venezuela". For this reason, she demanded that "Colombian authorities must undertake a thorough investigation into Lezama's death and ensure that journalists are able to report safely in this tense region".
What has been said by Southwick and by the Standing Committee puts the spotlight on the lack of guarantees not only for those who live in the region but also for those who try to show and reflect on the violence in the areas that have been mostly abandoned by the State. Thus, the death of Lezama is not only the consequence of the scathing acts carried out by the FARC's dissidence, but also by a government that does not guarantee the security of those who seek to approach violence in Colombia to explain it.
LatinAmerican Post | Juan Gabriel Bocanegra
Translated from "Colombia: Mauricio Lezama es asesinado en vísperas de un rodaje"