On April 27, Fr. John Langan, S.J., rector of the Jesuit Community at Georgetown, signed a letter supporting Hollman Morris, a Colombian filmmaker and journalist who had been the target of a smear campaign on the part of ex-Colombian president and University lecturer Alvaro Uribe.
Morris’ documentaries accuse the Colombian government of human rights abuses. Because of these controversial films, Uribe’s government is implicated in an attempt to link him with the leftist FARC guerilla forces
Officials in Colombia are also thought to be behind the U.S. decision to deny Morris a visa when he was asked to speak at a Harvard journalist’s fellowship last summer. This decision was later reversed.
Langan’s letter came as Morris appeared on campus last week to promote his new film, Impunity, which details trials against alleged paramilitaries in Colombia.
The Latin American Studies Department, the Jesuit Community, and the Office of the University President all helped bring Morris in an effort to smooth tensions over the controversial decision to invite Uribe as a Distinguished Scholar in the Practice of Global Leadership.
“There was dissatisfaction with the Uribe visit and appointment,” said Langan “This was not very widely discussed among the faculty. I don’t think that the [University] President had the full sense of how controversial Uribe was.”
After consulting with Fr. Francisco DeRoux, provincial of the Jesuit community in Colombia, Langan decided to add his support to the invitation.
“This was all in an effort to correct certain misapprehensions in Colombia that Jesuits in North America didn’t know about or didn’t care about alleged human rights abuses in Colombia,” Langan said.
The Jesuit Community had previously cooperated with the Latin American Studies Department to bring Colombian Jesuit Fr. Mauricio García Durán to provide a critical perspective on the legacy of former President Uribe.
Correction: We previously included a picture of Fr. Joseph Lingan, who will be replacing Fr. Langan as rector of the Jesuit Community on July 31.