Renowned Colombian photographer Jesús “Chucho” Abad Colorado has spent the last 30 years documenting the atrocities of his country’s armed conflict, the faces of its victims and the related damage to its diverse and rich ecosystems. María Belén Sáez de Ibarra, director of the Center for Cultural Heritage at Colombia’s National University, curated this first series of photography books which tell the stories of thousands of victims of the ongoing armed conflict. The series, collectively titled “The Witness,” complements both his permanent exhibit in Bogotá and his Netflix documentary of the same name



This edited volume comes at a critical moment for Colombia’s long-standing memory and truth-telling processes. The country’s Truth Commission recently released their final report, and the Special Jurisdiction of Peace has advanced on important prosecutions against military officers and former FARC guerilla commanders. Meanwhile, renewed peace negotiations with remaining armed groups, including the National Liberation Army (ELN), have brought greater attention to the suffering of communities afflicted by continued armed conflict. The stories of victims — their faces, tragedies and resilience — will continue to be a part of Colombia’s path toward peace and reconciliation.

On October 13, USIP, the Washington Office on Latin America, Colombia’s National University and the Atlantic Council hosted the launch of “The Witness,” featuring reflections from Abad and Sáez on the human toll of armed conflict, the deep scars that violence creates on the environment, the resilience of victims, and the voices for peace. A reception followed the conversation.

Note: This event will be hosted in Spanish, with simultaneous English interpretation available both in-person at USIP’s headquarters and as part of the online livestream.

Take part in the conversation on Twitter using #ElTestigo.


Camila Hernandez, opening remarks 
Associate Director, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, Atlantic Council

Jesús Abad Colorado
Colombian Photographer

María Belén Saez de Ibarra 
Curator and Director, Center for Cultural Heritage, National University of Colombia

Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, closing remarks
Director for the Andes, Washington Office on Latin America

Tonis Montes, moderator
Program Officer, Latin America Program, U.S. Institute of Peace 

Related Publications

The Latest @ USIP: Colombian Women’s Contribution to Peacebuilding

The Latest @ USIP: Colombian Women’s Contribution to Peacebuilding

Thursday, March 9, 2023

By: Viviana Sarmiento

Women have been both victims and combatants throughout Colombia’s history of civil conflicts. But it wasn’t until recently that they were included as active negotiators in the peacebuilding process. Viviana Sarmiento, a Colombian political scientist and researcher, discusses how Colombian women contributed to the design and implementation of 2016 FARC peace accords, the opportunity to bring gender-inclusive perspectives into negotiations with other armed groups, and what Colombian women can teach others around the world about women’s inclusion in peacebuilding.

Type: Blog

GenderPeace Processes

Colombia’s Renewed Peace Talks with ELN Rebels Provide Historic Opportunity

Colombia’s Renewed Peace Talks with ELN Rebels Provide Historic Opportunity

Thursday, December 15, 2022

By: Steve Hege

As part of its ambitious “Total Peace” agenda, the new Colombian government recently restarted peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), marking the first new negotiations since January 2019. And while this cycle of talks adopted the same agenda and process framework as the previous efforts, current President Gustavo Petro appointed a diverse and broad negotiations team in the hopes of generating early momentum and support. Petro intends to advance on partial accords as quickly as possible — building up to a comprehensive agreement before his brief four-year term in office is complete.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & DialoguePeace Processes

The Latest @ USIP: Resurgent Efforts in Colombia’s Peace Process

The Latest @ USIP: Resurgent Efforts in Colombia’s Peace Process

Thursday, November 10, 2022

By: Monsignor Hector Fabio Henao

Newly elected Colombian President Gustavo Petro has made “total peace” a cornerstone of his agenda, looking to jump-start implementation of the 2016 FARC peace agreement and establish negotiations with the ELN and various other armed groups. Monsignor Hector Fabio Henao, who serves as a delegate of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia for relations between the Catholic Church and the Colombian government, discusses how the Church is working at the grassroots level to address the humanitarian situation in conflict-affected areas and efforts to build consensus among civil society and government officials regarding next steps in the peace process.

Type: Blog

Peace ProcessesReligion

How to Balance Hydropower and Local Conflict Risks

How to Balance Hydropower and Local Conflict Risks

Thursday, October 27, 2022

By: Tegan Blaine, Ph.D.;  Chris Collins;  Laura Leiva

In the face of rapidly expanding solar and wind energy technology, it’s easy to forget about hydropower. Hydropower was first harnessed to turn mills and grind grain, but today it generates more electricity than any other source of renewable energy. But while dams can spur development, help manage water resources and improve access to affordable electricity, their impacts on local communities and the environment can have a dark side.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

EnvironmentGlobal Policy

View All Publications