Vichada: Recorriendo la otra Colombia / (Vichada: A journey through the other Colombia)

Vichada: Recorriendo la otra Colombia / (Vichada: A journey through the other Colombia)

Organisation: Rutas del Conflicto (Colombia)

Publication Date: 04/04/2017

Size of team/newsroom:small

Description presented an journalistic special investigation about the Departament (read State) of Vichada, where conflict’s marks were left by several armed actors who had interest in the land and the drug traffic. Vichada: Recorriendo la otra Colombia (Vichada: A journey through the other Colombia) aim to document the history of violence and expose its relation with land ownership in Llanos Orientales (Eastern Plains of Colombia), an area excluded from traditional journalistic coverage. As part of the first investigation Vichada: tierra de hombres para hombres sin tierra (Men’s quarrel for a no man’s land), we gather data from several public databases (nation cadastre office, notaries, Chamber of Commerce and public records from Office of the Public Prosecutor) and reviewed carefully property records of at least 50 properties – some of them reach 3.000 hectares and gather tens of farms, owned by farmers or claimed by indigenous peoples through collective titling. The team used multimedia tools, as well, to document and explain which armed actors were involved, how violence was related to the possession of land and violent facts of the region. Lastly, we checked out which figures were used to accumulate land in an irregular way, how they did it and how Government didn’t take useful actions against them. In the second part, called Chupave, por una vida sin coca (Chupave, looking for a life without coca) we told the story of a region that lives between the memory of the peak of coca production and the reality of its decadence. Without the money from illicit cultivation, there have been revealed deficiencies in infrastructure, mobility, health and education, as well as the lack of the State, which only has been present with military force. Chupave is where the savannah meets the jungle, in the city of Cumaribo, Vichada. Coca crops have attracted thousands of settlers to this inspection since the 1980s, and their cultivation gave economic stability to the the settlers over 20 years. The same leaf of coca, however, also brought violence from different armed groups and left marks which are still visible, such as the use of cocaine paste as the currency of the town. In the second investigation, made and published in 2016, we narrated how the land in the south of Vichada was historically the target of illegal groups, in order to cultivate coca. In addition, we tell how these crops impacted the social and economic life of this region, forgotten by the State, during the peak of drug trafficking and its decline.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

No medium has done research on that subject before, what makes this project singular and innovative since its beginning. Besides, we used different journalistic techniques of verification and presented the results in an innovative multimedia form. Although several news outlets and Colombian Congress’ debates have made ​​visible irregular accumulation of thousands of vacant hectares in Vichada, until this investigation there weren’t researches on the relationship between violence, registered since the 80’s, and the agro-business exploitation. It included also the possible relationship of armed actors in the conflict with the transfer of that land. As a small newsroom, composed by ten people, we integrated every team member in different steps of the investigation: scraping, searching public documents, organizing data, reviewing academics articles, interviewing and reporting in Vichada (including audiovisual material), editing and post production and, finally, the development of the web page. The presentation of the content is innovative because it mixes the use of maps, graphs, timeline, videos with drawings to explain complex subjects, short videos with interviews, journalistic videos, photos and text. The text is also presented in different ways, the second with a more narrative technique. Much of the impact was due to the diffusion of NGOs and some independent media in Colombia, as Pacifista, Enviromental Peacebuilding ORG ( and the NGO Consciencia Peasant of Cajamarca. Likewise, the results found may be used for investigations and judicial processes on land tenure in Colombia and possibly in State´s administrative investigations about its land procedures.

Technologies used for this project:

The webpage was built with HTML, CSS, PHP and JavaScript language. JavaScript works with Google Fusion Tables source code. This project also involved research and investigation about land property and links between armed actors, actors who intermediated negotiations and big companies. To organize our data we also use Google Spreadsheet in order to classify the name of each property, each person related and the companies linked to the the property and person. The investigation about Vichada State was published with maps, graphics (as the one with the actors involved with land selling and the other about food prices with cocaine paste as currency) and multimedia tools ( photos and videos). The first chapter, “Vichada: tierra de hombres para hombres sin tierra”, has two historic videos about the history of violence and the history of land property in the region, made with drawing and narration.


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