Sabogal: Animated about Colombia’s dark history

By bogotapost March 10, 2015

With the release of Sabogal, a new animated TV show giving a refreshing insight into human rights in Colombia, Marian Romero examines the growing trend of historical series in the country

Over the past decade, one of the most successful formulas for Colombian television networks has been to dramatise real life-stories related to politics, armed conflict or narcotrafficking (or even football).

In 2008, The Cartel of Snitches (El Cartel de los Sapos), gave a step-by-step account of the events that made the Cali Cartel one of the most powerful organizations in the illegal drug trade in the 80s and 90s.

Since then, the ‘narco-series’ genre in Colombia has become a trend that has led to plenty of success for TV producers. The main characters have always been either gangsters, as in Escobar, the Drug Lord (Escobar el Patrón del Mal, 2012), or high-class prostitutes embroiled in the world of gangs and drugs, such as Rosario Tijeras (2010).

Despite the popularity of the genre, until now the point of view of the victims and the real dramas they have lived through have not been properly explored on mainstream television. So it was about time Colombian TV made a show about one of its real heroes, Jaime Garzón.

Garzón was a journalist, comedian and peace activist, who was hugely popular in the 1990s for his political satire on TV shows like Zoociedad (1990-1993) and Quac (1995-1997). Garzón also played the role of negotiator in the release of FARC hostages.

His murder, allegedly by paramilitaries in 1999, caused social outcry, protests and demonstrations, and Garzón became the national symbol for the country’s recent, unspoken victims. The case remains officially unsolved.

Garzón’s death is the starting point of Sabogal, Canal Capital’s new series, an animated thriller that narrates the story of the lawyer who defends Garzón’s family. His investigation leads to the unveiling of sordid connections between drug traffickers, paramilitary leaders and corrupt public officials.

For 13 episodes, spanning the period from 1999 to 2009, we follow the lawyer Fernando Sabogal in his fight against impunity and social amnesia.

“Working closely with a number of human rights lawyers, Sabogal is the result of a long process of research that delves into the archives of prosecutions that have been systematically submerged in this country by force in recent years,” co-director Juan José Lozano told Canal Capital.

As saturated as Colombians are with daily bad news, Sabogal offers a fresh format, capturing the interest of a variety of audiences. The series uses a mixture of modern techniques such as 3D, motion comics and motion graphics, some of them used for the first time in Latin America. The animated format juxtaposes well with the serious and provocative content, lending the series a thoroughly unique feel.

“Sabogal is an atypical audiovisual laboratory. It was inspired by the monochrome of Sin City, the rainy and postmodern world of Blade Runner, and more recent experimental narrative animations,” explained co-director Sergio Mejía.

Sabogal seeks to rescue the historical memory of the country and promote human rights and a culture of peace. The series will be shown at this year’s International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva.

Sabogal airs every Sunday at 7pm on Canal Capital or online at

By Marian Romero