Image 1 of 1
A woman shelters from the spray and rain under a tarpaulin on the deck of a boat. She is one of a group of people making the crossing of the Gulf of Uraba to Cacarica. There they are to found a 'Peace Community', a settlement of people who were exiled by a joint military/paramilitary offensive, named Operation Genesis, in 1997. The returnee residents of these 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. These communities offer safety to those displaced by the ongoing conflict, and 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.