Paul Smith

Villanueva, COLOMBIA

The remains of a coca-cola poster hang on the wall of the restaurant, once run by Miriam, in the village of Villanueva which was deserted in 1997 when its population fled after a massacre perpetrated by right-wing paramilitaries. Miriam says 'Before it was beautiful here, there were shops and restaurants. There was good fishing, there were businesses, and now there is nothing. It's all finished!' Many of those who had settled lands here were colonists fleeing from violence in other parts of Colombia. When paramilitaries of the United Self-defenses of Colombia (known by their Spanish acronym AUC) entered the region there were some clashes between them and guerrillas of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) but the paramilitaries more often would strike at the civilian population. Soon after one battle between the groups, and after the army had secured the zone and it was temporarily free of guerrillas, the paramilitaries returned to Villanueva. They massacred several villagers and wrecked the town. The majority of the survivors joined the mass exodus of peasants from the region towards the towns and cities. The village is now desolate where there were once more than thirty families settled in the village, today barely five scrape a living from the land.

Object Name
Paul Smith
Max size
High Resolution
4500 x 4500 pixels
38.1 x 38.1 cm (300 dpi)
15 x 15 inch (300 dpi)
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