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Colombia: Peace Week

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The internally displaced indigenous peoples of Colombia cannot return home, because of guerilla forces and landmines.

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Colombia: Peace Week

  1. 1. The land of the Awá indigenous group in the Andes consists of rain forests where the indigenous people hunt. They live in small communities of extended family in the Awá settlement. They grow crops - mainly beans, sugarcane and plantain – on ranches in the valleys. In the Awá language, indigenous people are called Mountain People. Many Awás say that “the mountain and the earth is our life”, which means it is more difficult when they are living away from home, working to buy food and pay rent instead of working to produce from their own land. <ul><li>“ Displaced here, we have lost the communication and harmony we had with our land” Alexander, a young Awá teacher </li></ul>
  2. 2. <ul><li>Libardo Nastacuas , a 49-year old Awá, is displaced and living in the district of Cambú near to Ricaurte, Colombia. </li></ul><ul><li>He pays 60,000 pesos (about £22) a month for a house made of planks of wood. The holes in its laminate roof let in water. </li></ul><ul><li>Libardo and his family don’t feel safe returning to the settlement because of the landmines left by the FARC guerrillas. Libardo’s cousin fell on a landmine and died on 26 December 2009. </li></ul><ul><li>Back home, Libardo worked on his land from 7am to 4pm and spent his evenings with his family. This custom of working and spending time with family has been lost, because since the displacement all family members have to find any work they can to earn money in order to survive. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Nuri Alcira Guanga Canticus, 23, shares this room with her mother, two younger brothers (Andrés, 16 and Nover Alexander, 13) and her recently born son. </li></ul><ul><li>Her mother, like many displaced Awá women, works as a cleaner/maid in a family home from 7am until 4pm 6 days a week and earns 150,000 pesos (around £53) per month. Her husband works away from home in Barbacoas and only comes home once in a while. </li></ul><ul><li>Her father was killed by a a landmine planted by the FARC guerrillas when he returned to their land to collect their crops on 7 November 2006. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Alfonso Canticus, 62, in the kitchen of a small house occupied by several displaced Awá families. Because of the lack of space, Alfonso and his wife Florida Guanga have to sleep in the kitchen. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>The Laura sisters have been working with the Awá people for over 18 years and have played a key role in empowering the communities and helping them to organise themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>They helped to set up the indigenous councils which have worked to preserve the identity and customs of the indigenous group, particularly since they have been displaced. </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Martha, an Awá woman, gets a kiss from her daughter during a clothes making workshop that she is taking part in to earn a decent income to help her family. The workshop was funded by the Laura Missionary Sisters. </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>The governor of the Magüí indigenous authority Pedro Leonel Guanga and his family have been displaced. They’re standing on a piece of land the displaced Awá people hope to get the rights for. </li></ul><ul><li>The plan is to buy 200 hectares of land with the help of several institutions, where families can grow food while they’re away from home. </li></ul><ul><li>Working the land is a central part of the Awá identity and something they have lost since they fled the dangers they faced on their land. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Soldiers from the national army in the town of Altaquer. </li></ul><ul><li>In the foreground, the traditional cane of the indigenous governor. </li></ul><ul><li>Many displaced people from the Magüí indigenous settlement have moved to Altaquer to rent houses and look for work. </li></ul><ul><li>The security forces are a target for guerrilla groups; just hours before this photo was taken the guerrillas attacked the army with a home-made bomb. </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>23–year-old María del Carmen Valenzuela Chirán, a young Awá woman, shows photographs of her two brothers who were forcibly “disappeared” on 6 September 2006. </li></ul><ul><li>John Jaivo, 27, and José Antonio, 29, disappeared after the family recovered the dead body of a neighbour, Rigoartemio Guanga Paí, 17, who had been killed by the FARC guerrillas on 28 August 2006. </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Porfirio Nastacuas Ortiz, 28 and his wife Fidelina García Guanga, 26, sit on one of the three beds that their five children sleep on. </li></ul><ul><li>They rent a one-room shack in the La Floresta neighbourhood, since FARC guerrillas ordered them to leave their 3-room home in the Pialapí district. They didn’t manage to take anything with them at all. </li></ul><ul><li>“ We were so angry”, Porfirio said. “The guerrillas were also looking for my brother Javier, but they couldn’t find him.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ My daughter found it very hard to leave. Sometimes she cries about it”, her mother says. </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>A group of Awá people leave Altaquer in the direction of the Magüí settlement to do some community work. Although they have been displaced, the Awá return to the settlement when the situation allows it to collect crops, sow seeds or, as in this case, to tidy and maintain the paths on their land. Community work is an important part of the indigenous people’s tradition and culture which keeps the community united. </li></ul>