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Santos’s years have been marked by social progress: huge spending on poor districts in the former narco-bastion of Medellín and legislation for the restitution of land to those who were expelled from it by paramilitaries and Farc. “Colombia is a fairly rich nation and yet it still has one third of citizens living in poverty and four million of them in extreme poverty. This is completely unacceptable,” said Rodríguez. “But we have taken 2.5 million Colombians out of poverty and 1.3 million from extreme poverty – something no government has ever done in Colombia. We have operated a social democracy, in place of the military economy that an Uribe-run government would bring back. We are trying to grow for the general prosperity, they want prosperity for just a few business people in their entourage.”

Colombia has always been a head-scratcher for Americans not steeped in Latin American politics. The country of some 47 million people boasts one of the most vibrant cultures on the continent, with an enviably dynamic civil society, a booming entrepreneurial sector, and an innovative media that sets the benchmark for quality journalism in the region. But the country is also haunted by a horrific legacy of violence, an intractable internal conflict that at the outset looked much like Marxist insurgencies in Central America but ultimately outlived its relevance, and any popular backing it ever had, but managed to endure thanks to its involvement in the profitable drug trade. As recently as 2006, the FARC supplied more than 50 percent of the world’s cocaine and reaped $500 million annually from the drug trade.

[Originally published here as part of WITNESS’s collaboration with Global Voices Online – this post was written by Gavin Simpson]

It fell to the controversial figure of Carla del Ponte, prosecutor at the UN war crimes tribunal in the Hague, to lament the slow progress of justice in the Former Yugoslavia in a lecture she delivered last week. del Ponte picked out Serbia as a country “removed from the European values”, arguing that truth and justice remain “relative concepts, rather than absolute values”.

In the wake of these comments, the time seems ripe to consider how video fits in to the quest for post-conflict justice. How does the use of video relate to such concepts as truth, reconciliation and accountability? It’s an especially interesting question in a region like the Former Yugoslavia, where the population remains so starkly divided in its interpretations of the recent past.

As the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) noted, video of historical atrocities is being used as part of the continuing propaganda war in the Former Yugoslavia, and few debates around video footage in 2006 have been as highly-charged as the one that accompanied this video clip, first broadcast by Serbia’s B92 television station in August 2006.

Warning: the following video contains graphic imagery of human rights abuse

The video depicts events that took place during so-called “Operation Storm” in August 1995. It came to light almost exactly eleven years later – the most recent example of video footage apparently released to coincide with the anniversaries of major atrocities committed by different sides in the Balkan wars.

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