Project description

La Paz en el Terreno (Peace in the Territories) is a platform developed by the teams of Rutas el Conflicto and Colombia 2020, started with the impulse from Fabíola Torres, a fellow of the ICFJ, and the support of FESCOL. It was launched on April 19th, 2018. The platform produces journalistic content and tools with databases and in-depth investigations that allow to measure and monitor the implementation of the Peace Agreement between the FARC ex-guerrilla and the Colombian government in two items: the assassination of social leaders and the reincorporation of ex-combatants. The data is disseminated on the platform, social media and other formats (multimedia, podcast and printed) in order to reach the populations most affected by the conflict.

The database built for the section “Social Leaders” (Líderes Sociales) has collected information about 201 social leaders killed after September 26th, 2016, the day of the signing of the Peace Agreement (actualized by April 5th, 2019). This database makes the crossing between several academic, official, testimonial and journalistic sources and presents it with different possibilities of visualizations combining five filters. It\’s available in this tool numbers and details about deceased leaders, a map with the municipality where they died, the type of organization in which they worked, the situation of the judicial investigation, the gender and the type of leadership, among other relevant data. This database is dynamic and invites citizen participation to complement the information. In addition, the team investigated cases of threatened and assaulted leaders, in order to prepare a register that allows establishing some indicators on their situation.

The second section of the page, “Disarmed life” (Vida sin Armas), shows how is being implemented the process of reincorporation into the society of the ex-combatants of FARC ex-guerrilla, an important issue of the Peace Agreement. Several data visualizations were constructed to explain key issues such as the structural conditions of the 26 places where the FARC members were concentrated in order to demobilize, a census of the ex-combatant population, information about what they are currently doing and how was the process called Early Reincorporation, with their inclusion to the health system and to the national system of registry (which allowed ex-combatants to have an ID).

Data visualizations are a useful tool to measure the pulse of implementation of the Peace Agreement, considering its items related to the reincorporation of former guerrillas and their access to rights (most of the guerrilla´s base was composed of the peasant population, with low levels of schooling and from traditionally excluded communities). In addition, long-term articles were integrated into the platform to contextualize data and to deepen in other relevant topics, such as security, the current challenges of economic reincorporation, among others.

What makes this project innovative?

La Paz en el Terreno has three main innovative elements. Firstly, in Colombia, there is no institution that unifies and visibilizes information about the homicides of social leaders after the signing of the Peace Agreement or about the ex-Farc guerrilla members demobilization and reincorporation process. La Paz en el Terreno does it, with reliable information investigated by journalists through the Peace Journalism approach: using analytical tools to interpret war beyond its numbers and facts, focusing on addressing conflicts that historically have caused violence and those that it generates. The project generates a concrete contribution not only to journalists but to a universe of official, academic and humanitarian institutions that will find in a single place information that was dispersed. In the case of social leaders, it has to be considered that statistics from several non-governmental organizations never coincide with those of the Government. La Paz en el Terreno is the first exercise to contrast these data from different sources. Secondly, the presentation of the information is innovative. We use data visualization (with a database, timelines, and maps) to make public information that was not available on an open website. These tools and numbers are accompanied by in-depth reports that explain their findings and contexts both in text and multimedia presentation. Lastly, La Paz en el Terreno is an alliance between two small Colombian media outlets specialized in the coverage of the armed conflict (Rutas del Conflicto and Colombia 2020), impulsed by an ICFJ (International Center for Journalists) fellow. This kind of alliance is each time more common worldwide, but, in Colombia, it`s innovative that two media teams collaborate in order to materialize a bigger project. Rutas del Conflicto experience in data journalism and Colombia 2020 experience in the coverage of the Peace Agreement has been a perfect match.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

La Paz en el Terreno had, until March 31th, 2019, 18.193 unique users, according to the website's Google Analytics information. The number of page views was 50.634, including accesses from 74 countries and 29 States (Departamentos) in Colombia. The main public was between 25 and 34 years old (33.5% of the users), followed by people between 18 and 24 years old (27.5%) and those between 35 y 44 years old (15%). The articles from La Paz en el Terreno that were produced and shared in Colombia2020 website had, in the same date, 305.548 page views. Besides, the project´s articles and images were published by Rutas del Conflicto and Colombia 2020 social media, including Facebook (12.539 and 48.558 followers, respectively), Twitter (9.231 and 24.100 followers) and Instagram (2.763 and 3.356 followers). La Paz en el Terreno was also mentioned on the internet by international organizations in Colombia, as IOM (International Organization for Migration), UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and UN Missions (United Nations Peace Operations); by Governmental institutions, as the Defensoría del Pueblo (Ombudsman Office); by civil society organizations, as Comisión Colombiana de Juristas (Colombian Commission of Jurists) and Fundación (Foundation) Ideas para la Paz; and by media outlets and organizations, as ICFJ - International Center for Journalists, IJNET - Red Internacional de Periodistas, GIJN - Global Investigative Journalism Network and VICE. Lastly, La Paz en el Terreno website was inaugurated on April 19th, 2018, in a public event for 150 people (with streaming). This presentation was made with two panels: one about the reincorporation process of ex-members of Farc guerrilla and the other about the security of social leaders. The three most viewed publications of La Paz en el Terreno en Twitter were made during the event: one with 4,796 impressions, the other with 3,017 and the last with 2,968.

Source and methodology

We have two main sections in La Paz en el Terreno (Peace in the Territories): Líderes Sociales (Social Leaders) and Vida sin Armas (Disarmed Life). We will explain the source and the methodology for both separately. For the section Líderes Sociales (Social Leaders), we built a database about the cases of homicides, and made several journalistic articles to explain the problematic, as texts about what a social leader is, the historical roots of the problem, kidnaped leaders and an in-depth story about leaders who work with the substitution of illicit crops. For the database, we worked firstly with data from the United Nations, about leaders killed after the signing of the Peace Agreement. The information about each leader mentioned by the UN was contrasted with other databases, in order to see in which of them the homicide was registered. The other databases (from the state and civil society) are: Datasketch, Pacifista, Ojo a La Paz, Indepaz, Defensoría del Pueblo (Ombudsman Office), Unidad de Víctimas, Somos Defensores, Cinep (Noche y Niebla), CODHES, Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo and Comisión Colombiana de Juristas (Colombian Commission of Jurists). Besides, La Paz en el Terreno team also consulted press and official reports, in order to confirm the information. The next step made with each leader was to contact their family, local Communal Action Boards and city halls to confirm and expand data. Until April 5th, 2019, we could investigate and check information about 201 leaders, which are presented online on La Paz en el Terreno website. Then, the stage of the legal investigation was consulted in media outlets and with the National Prosecution Service. In each of the 201 leaders consulted, local sources of information were the organizations where they use to work, as Asociación Nacional Campesina José Antonio Galán Zorro “ASONALCA", Cooperativa Multiactiva Unión de Mineros de Buenos Aires, Communal Action Board Vereda El Roble, Consejo Comunitario de Comunidades Negras (Community Council of Black Communities) Mamuncia, Communal Action Board Vereda La Ilusión, Communal Action Board Vereda Totumito Carboneras, Marcha Patriótica, Coordinadora Nacional de Cultivadores de Coca, Amapola y Marihuana COCCA, Defensoría del Pueblo (Ombudsman Office) of Putumayo, Asociación de Campesinos del Bajo Cauca (ASOCBAC), Asociación Campesina del Catatumbo (Ascamcat), Asociación Campesina del corregimiento La Italia, Movimiento Ríos Vivos, Consejo Comunitario de la Cuenca del Río Naya - Vereda San Juan Santo, among dozens of other organization. The documented leaders are from 26 of the 32 Colombian States (Departamentos) and from the capital district, Bogotá. After the research and collection of information, we built a database with the following variables: Leader`s name, Municipality, State, Village, Date, Latitude, Length, Organization, Type of leadership, Gender, Other types of leadership, Type of community, Possible authors (of the homicide), Threaten (was there a previous threaten before the homicide?), Stage of the investigation, Source of the stage of the investigation, Image, Details and Source’s links. This database is currently available online, geo-referenced and with five searching filters. In the section Vida sin Armas (Disarmed Life), we have several data visualization followed by articles (and multimedia) which deepen the comprehensión about the numbers. Data were collected from official sources, as ARN (Agencia para la Reincorporación y la Normalización - Reincorporation and Normalization Agency), CNR (Consejo Nacional de Reincorporación - National Council for Reincorporation), OACP (Oficina del Alto Comisionado para la Paz - Peace High Commission) and the Consejo Nacional para la Estabilización y la Consolidación (National Counselor for Stabilization and Consolidation), Defensoría del Pueblo (Ombudsman Officer) and the National Police. We used reports and investigations from universities and international organizations, as Universidad Nacional de Colombia, United Nations, Indepaz and Kroc Institute. Besides, we interviewed speakers and representants of the FARC Party and, in the territories, former combatants, civil population and members of civil society organizations. We also consulted different media outlets. The information was verified by comparing different databases (for example, for demobilization numbers, we compared information from OACP, ARN and Defensoría. For ex-combatants murders numbers, we compared information from the press, Defensoría, FARC, Police, Indepaz, and OACP) and by interviewing former guerrilla members about the process. The purpose was to collect reliable data and compare it with the challenges that ex-combatants and the civil population were facing in the territories. The data were analyzed in order to choose which variables would be used in each visualization and organized in Excel tables and Google Spreadsheets. Most of them were also geo-referenced, and the information was placed on a map. For the stories in-depth, in both sections of the website, we used journalistic techniques of investigation, as pre-production (finding the contacts and researching about the themes), interviews (formal and informal), participation in events with social leaders and former combatants, observation in the field and post-production (in text, photos, podcasts and video).

Technologies Used

We used Drupal 7 as a content manager. The templates creation was made with the library of Bootstrap and language PHP, Javascript and CSS. For maps and data visualizations, we used D3 and Leaflet libraries. The construction of the visualization was only possible after deep research about social leaders homicides, which was organized with Excel tables and Google Spreadsheets. We also used multimedia tools, as podcasts and videos, which were edited by La Paz en el Terreno’s members in Adobe Audition and Adobe Premiere.

Project members

Oscar Parra (Rutas del Conflicto), Fernanda Barbosa (Rutas del Conflicto), Juan Gómez (Rutas del Conflicto), Alejandro Ballesteros (Rutas del Conflicto), Nicole Acuña (Rutas del Conflicto), Maria Jimena Neira (Rutas del Conflicto), Silvia Corredor (Rutas del Conflicto), Pilar Fuentes (Rutas del Conflicto), Richard Romero (Rutas del Conflicto), Ricardo Sánchez (Rutas del Conflicto), Santiago Luque (Rutas del Conflicto), Sharon Mejía (Rutas del Conflicto), Paula Hernández (Rutas del Conflicto), Laura Peñuela (Rutas del Conflicto), Fabiola Torres (ICFJ), Jason Martínez (ICFJ), Gloria Castrillón (Colombia 2020), Edison Bolaños (Colombia 2020), Nicolás Sánchez (Colombia 2020), Ana María Muxo (Colombia 2020), William Ariza (Colombia 2020)



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