Paul Smith

Cacarica, Department of Choco, COLOMBIA

Youths thresh rice in the 'Peace Community' of Cacarica. The community is a settlement of people who were displaced by a joint military/paramilitary offensive, named Operation Genesis, in 1997. The returnee residents of these new communities demand that the parties to the conflict respect their decision not to take sides in the hostilities. This is a strategy to enable the farmers to remain on their lands and not be displaced and dispossessed in their absence. The communities are aided and monitored by church groups and NGOs, as the area is still vulnerable to attack. Right-wing paramilitary groups displaced thousands of peasants from the Choco-Uraba region in the north of the country, taking possession of their land and mounting front companies to manage large-scale agro-industrial projects which later received economic subsidies from the Colombian state. The Afro-Colombian communities affected by the military offensive had been the first to be granted communal land tenure rights to their ancestral territories, but their forced displacement and subsequent absence has meant they have never been able to enjoy those rights granted them by the Colombian courts.

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Object Name
Paul Smith
Cacarica, Department of Choco
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