Bajo Fuego (Under Siege) (2020)

  • Documentary
  • 1h 25m

US Digital Festival Premiere

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Presented in partnership with: Cinema Tropical and Vera List Center for Art and Politics.

In November 2016, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the office of President Juan Manuel Santos signed the Colombian peace deal. Many hoped this would mark an end to 52 years of armed conflict. For farmers in the coca-growing region of Cauca however, this “peace” has proven to be short-lived. Bajo Fuego follows “cocaleros” as they mobilize to protect their livelihoods after the government instructs them to destroy their crops as part of the “war on drugs.” As new armed groups arise, the promised peace turns out to be an illusion for these farmers whose lives are threatened and who are displaced from their homes. Bajo Fuego exposes the lived reality behind the politics that has left many Colombians in a continued state of war.

“What was signed were just agreements, they did not sign peace. We still have to build peace.” - Farmer, film participant, Bajo Fuego

  • Official Selection, HotDocs 2021

  • Thank you to everyone who joined our digital film festival screening + live Q&A on May 22. You can still watch the film at your own pace until May 27, and view the recording of the Q&A with filmmakers Sjoerd van Grootheest and Irene Vélez-Torres, Kassandra Frederique, Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance, moderated by Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, Senior Legal Advisor Human Rights Watch: here on our Vimeo page.

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Bonus Content

55 mins
'Bajo Fuego' recorded Q&A

Conversation with filmmakers Sjoerd van Grootheest and Irene Vélez-Torres Kassandra Frederique, Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance, moderated by Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, Senior Legal Advisor, Human Rights Watch.

'Bajo Fuego' Filmmaker Introduction

An introductory video from ‘Bajo Fuego’ filmmaker Irene Vélez-Torres

Colombia: Protection Gaps Endanger Rights Defenders

Over 400 Killings of Community, Other Leaders Since 2016

Armed group killings of human rights defenders are pervasive across Colombia, yet the government is dragging its feet in carrying out policies to prevent them, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Feb 10, 2021. The report, “Left Undefended: Killings of Rights Defenders in Colombia’s Remote Communities,” documents killings of human rights defenders in the country in the last five years, as well as serious shortcomings in government efforts to prevent them, protect defenders, and hold those responsible to account. Over 400 human rights defenders have been killed in Colombia since 2016, according to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Read the full report here.

Colombia: Indigenous Kids at Risk of Malnutrition, Death

The Covid-19 pandemic and related lockdown are making it even harder for the Wayuu, an indigenous group in Colombia and Venezuela, to survive, Human Rights Watch and the Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health said in a joint report released August 13, 2020. The pandemic and lockdown are making it harder than ever for the Wayuu, many of whom live in the Colombian northeastern state of La Guajira, to get adequate food, water, and healthcare at a time when they need them more than ever. The Colombian government should urgently take action to protect indigenous Wayuu children’s rights.

Read more here.

Colombia/Venezuela: Armed Groups Control Lives at Border

Armed groups use brutal violence to control peoples’ daily lives in the eastern Colombian province of Arauca and the neighboring Venezuelan state of Apure, Human Rights Watch said in a report released January 22, 2020.

The report, “‘The Guerrillas Are the Police’: Social Control and Abuses by Armed Groups in Colombia’s Arauca Province and Venezuela’s Apure State” documents violations by the National Liberation Army (ELN), the Patriotic Forces of National Liberation (FPLN), and a group that emerged from the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Abuses including murder, forced labor, child recruitment, and rape are often committed as part of the groups’ strategy to control the social, political, and economic life of Arauca and Apure. Impunity for such abuses is the rule.

Read more here.

Colombia/Venezuela: Attacks on Civilians in Border Area

Armed groups have committed egregious abuses against Colombian and Venezuelan civilians as they fight for control in Catatumbo, northeastern Colombia, Human Rights Watch said in a report released August 8, 2019. The report, “The War in Catatumbo: Abuses by Armed Groups Against Civilians Including Venezuelan Exiles in Northeastern Colombia,” documents killings, disappearances, sexual violence, recruitment of children as soldiers, and forced displacement by the National Liberation Army (ELN), Popular Liberation Army (EPL), and a group that emerged from the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Armed groups use threats to gain control, including against community leaders and human rights defenders, some of whom have been killed. Venezuelans who fled the humanitarian emergency in their country are among the victims.

Read more here.