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Colombia’s paramilitaries part two

 The Daily Record 17 March 2019

The Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) is the official aid charity of the Catholic Church in Scotland. SCIAF works in 15 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, helping some of the poorest communities in the world to recover from hunger, poverty, war, natural disasters and disease. This year, the focus of SCIAF’S annual Lent campaign is Colombia where it provides seeds, tools, livestock and training to vulnerable Native American and Afro-Colombian communities. SCIAF is also helping people to stand up for their human rights through education so they can reclaim land that has been lost during war. In the second of a two part special, Daily Record journalist Paul O’Hare and freelance photographer Simon Murphy report on the violence left in the wake of the Colombian conflict, a benighted land where paramilitaries continue to commit atrocities with impunity. (3358 Words) - By Paul O'Hare

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Boy guards an illegal mine on the Andagueda River in the Choco district of Colombia. Photo: Simon Murphy

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The Andagueda River at Yuto , Choco district, Colombia. Chocó is also one of the poorest parts of the country. Around 80% of people in Chocó live below the poverty line.Photo: Simon Murphy

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Farmer, banana plantation, Currulao, Colombia. Colombia is the fourth largest country in Latin America and is home to 47.5 million people. It has lots of fertile farmland and is rich in natural resources but has been ravaged by decades of violent conflict involving guerrilla groups, paramilitary organisations and state forces. Photo: Simon Murphy

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Banana plantation, Currulao, Colombia. Although the fighting is not as intense, it is still going on in parts of the country and many armed groups are now involved in illegal mining and the drug trade. Vulnerable and marginalised communities live in constant fear of violence and being forced from their homes. Photo: Simon Murphy

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Emberra community at La Coquera, near Apartado, Colombia.Photo: Simon Murphy

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: Indigenous woman Laura Domico, 45, emberra village near Apartado, Colombia. Many indigenous territories were turned into reserves in the 1970s but that hasn’t stopped land grabbers from slowly eating away at them. Traditional farmland and hunting and fishing grounds are being polluted and destroyed or caught up in armed conflicts. Photo: Simon Murphy

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Crisaria Pipicay Chami ,43 , Embera Woman, Colombia. Face of SCIAFs wee box campaign 2014. The Emberá language and culture is being forgotten. Emberá leaders fear that if this happens, they will no longer be recognised as indigenous people and may lose their right to the indigenous territories, making them even more vulnerable. Photo: Simon Murphy

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Indigenous family in Emberra community at La Coquera, near Apartado , Colombia. The more land they lose to cattle ranches and banana plantations, the harder it is for them to get enough to eat. Many of the plants and animals they used to depend on for food are no longer available and the vast majority of Emberá families (99%) are going hungry. Photo: Simon Murphy

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Ava Carmen Domico, 63, Emberra community at La Coquera. Many Emberá villages are remote, isolated and hard to reach. They have very little disposable income and older generations – especially the women – are unable to speak Spanish. This makes it easy for people to take advantage of them. Indigenous communities are being exploited, having their human rights violated and are being denied the right to provide for themselves. Photo: Simon Murphy

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Children play hide and seek in the Emberra community village at La Coquera Some Embera children have been taken by the guerrilla and paramilitary groups to use as soldiers or to be part of the illegal drugs trade.Photo: Simon Murphy

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Boy with face painted the colours of the Colombian flag at a Remembrance parade for the La Chinita massacre (1994) where 35 banana plantation workers were killed by paramilitaries. La Chinita, Apartado, Colombia. Vulnerable and marginalised communities live in constant fear of violence and being forced from their homes. Photo: Simon Murphy

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Remembrance drama for the La Chinita massacre (1994) where 35 banana plantation workers were killed by paramilitaries. La Chinita, Apartado, Colombia. Although the fighting is not as intense, it is still going on in parts of the country and many armed groups are now involved in illegal mining and the drug trade. Photo: Simon Murphy

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Body of Juan Carlos Gutierrez Diaz is prepared to be moved from his rented grave to a smaller one while his widow looks on. Cemetery in Apartado, Colombia.Photo: Simon Murphy

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Soldiers patrol the town of Bagado in the Choco district of Colombia. More than 5 million people have been displaced because of violence, land grabbing or the drugs trade (around 10% of the population).Photo: Simon Murphy

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Kids play in the Andagueda River in the town of Bagado in the Choco district of Colombia. Illegal mining is harming the fish and lives of the local people with some mines reportedly using mercury in the mining process.Photo: Simon Murphy

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Kids play in the Andagueda River in the town of Bagado in the Choco district of Colombia. Illegal mining is harming the fish and lives of the local people with some mines reportedly using mercury in the mining process.Photo: Simon Murphy

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Illegal mine on the Andagueda River in the Choco district of Colombia. Photo: Simon Murphy

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Illegal mine on the Andagueda River in the Choco district of Colombia. Illegal mining is destroying the forests around the riverbanks.Photo: Simon Murphy

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Illegal mine on the Andagueda River in the Choco district of Colombia. Much of the topsoil owned by COCOMOPOCA communities sits on ground that is rich in valuable minerals like gold and coltan (used in smartphones and tablet computers). Villagers have a very real fear that they will be forced from their homes to make way for large scale mining programmes run by multinational corporations. Photo: Simon Murphy

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Boy runs through a rain shower at a Remembrance parade for the La Chinita massacre (1994) where 35 banana plantation workers were killed by paramilitaries. La Chinita, Apartado, Colombia. Photo: Simon Murphy


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