A boy rides his horse in the Humanitarian Zone of Caño Manso, in front of a sign that reads in Spanish “Prohibited the entry of armed groups”. Since the late 90’s families of farmers have been displaced several times by paramilitaries forces that allegedly work hand in hand with some units of the Colombian army, leaders of the community have been killed since. Caño Manso, Humanitarian Zone, used to be a paramilitary base, where many commanders stayed and operated from there. Accompanied by different NGO’S and guarded by the international humanitarian law, they have returned to their lands, where they continue to receive threats. Chocó Region, Colombia.
A mural with messages is seen in one of the houses of the Humanitarian Zone of Costa Azul. Many different international NGO’s and visitors that are related with the story of this humanitarian zone often visit and leave messages. Most of the Ruiz family has returned to their land after Mr. Ruiz father and one of his sons were assassinated, for legally trying to get back their land. Chocó Region, Colombia.
Two children of the community watch the farm animals in the Costa Azul Humanitarian Zone. Even though they have returned to their land, living conditions are not the best and animals live near and around the houses of the big Ruiz Family. Most of the food and how they survived is with crops used for own food and raising farm animals. Approximately 20-30 persons are part of the community. Chocó Region, Colombia.
A ceremony is held in honor of Manuel Ruiz and Samir Ruiz, where each member of their big family lights a candle and says some words in tribute to them. Manuel was one of the leaders of the process of restitution of land in the Curavadó Basin region of Chocó; a process that is accompanied by the government to seek and protect farmers to their return of their land after paramilitary forces took them by forced displacement and in elaborated plan took the legal rights of the land afterwards but now is being returned to the farmers in collective titles. Among many others leaders of the Curavadó Basin communities that are seeking the restitution of their land, Manuel had been receiving threats to his life. He was killed at age 56 with his son Samir age 15 in March 24, 2012. Chocó Region, Colombia.
Woman gather in one of the hand made houses of Costa Azul. Most of the houses are done manually, with wood, plastic and scrape metal. Even though most of the farmers life in Colombia lacks basic services, such as water, electricity or sewerage, the conditions of living in the humanitarian zones of Curavadó basin are particularly difficult, because of the reduced space families have to share to live. Chocó Region, Colombia.
In Costa Azul humanitarian zone, women prepare food at night. No electricity has come to the area, they rely mainly in fuel generators for have some electricity at nights. They have a community kitchen where women cook the daily meals for all the community. Chocó Region, Colombia.
A member of the community of Caño Manso Humanitarian Zone stand near to the memorial hut in the exact place where, Walberto Hoyos, was killed by hitmans in Caño Manso in one of the attempts to get back their land. Mr. Hoyos was a Human Rights activist and was investigating the relationship between military and police officers of the region and paramilitary forces, and how this structure led to the appropriation of land by wealthy land owners to use it in extensive crops as oil palm and extensive cattle terrain, displacing the community in several occasions. Chocó Region, Colombia.
Ledis Tuiran Gonzalez walks with her son, behind her the destroyed house that served as a paramilitary commander house, until Leidis and 12 other families returned to their land and destroyed it. She is one of the leaders of the Caño Manso humanitarian zone and witnessed the assassination of Walberto Hoyos who was killed in front of her and her children. After this she had to go away from Caño Manso, the same assassins came days after looking for her, only to return months after and continue being victim of life threats. She continues to be an active leader in Caño Manso and the land restitution process in the Curavadó Basin in Chocó region, Colombia.
A member of the community of Caño Manso is seen through the fence that encircles the community. More symbolic than practical, the Humanitarian Zones are encircled by fences and signs warning of the prohibition of armed groups to enter the community. Many feel safe inside; others feel safe but feel they are trapped inside, without the security of mobilizing to other parts of the region. Chocó Region, Colombia.
Yomaria Mendoza (left) and Ledis Tuiran (right, are seen washing clothes and dishes in the creek that passes through the Caño Manso Humanitarian Zone. Yomaira is one of the leaders of the community, hit man killed her husband next to her, she had to leave Caño Manso and look for safety in Medellin, working as a cleaner for rich families. She has returned now and both Yomaira and Ledis are constantly receiving death threats, by text messages and calls, while living in Caño Manso. Chocó Region, Colombia.
The son of Ledis is seen sitting on top of Ledis partner in a hammock in their house in Caño Manso, she has 3 more kids, which witnessed the assassination of Mr. Hoyos. Chocó Region, Colombia.
Children sit in one of the community centers of the Humanitarian Zone of Las Camelias, a sign that reads in Spanish “The resistant” one of the 13 Humanitarian Zones that exist in the Curavadó Basin. Chocó, Colombia.
A boy pumps water from a well in Las Camelias Humanitarian Zone one of the biggest of the 13 that exists in the Curavadó Basin. Lack of drinkable water is an issue in many of the countryside of Colombia, no exception in the humanitarian zones. Chocó Region, Colombia.
Many of the houses are hand made of wood, in the humanitarian zone of Las Camelias, one of the first humanitarian zones that were created and where around 15 families live together, and work together. Chocó Region, Colombia.
Girls prepare to go after taking a bath in a river outside the area of the humanitarian zone of Caño Manso, being out of the boundaries of the humanitarian zone is restricted due to security, after dark many of the community members keep inside. Chocó region, Colombia.