Colombia's Land Wars

A fierce Colombian grandmother defends her Indigenous community in the world’s largest cocaine producing region

Colombia's Land Wars In Colombia, a tenacious grandmother leads an unarmed Indigenous civilian force, as they fight to defend their land from armed groups fighting for control of drug production and trafficking routes.
After the Colombian government and the FARC signed a peace agreement in 2016, there was hope that the five decade-long armed conflict had come to an end. But the agreement left a power vacuum and armed criminal gangs, including ex-FARC members, began fighting for control. In Cauca, southwest Colombia, Celia Umenza is a high-ranking member of the Indigenous Guard - a civilian defence force which carries out territorial patrols to keep tabs on armed groups and defend their territory. 'We are seeing how the armed groups are advancing every day. The community is in danger,' explains Celia. As the Guards are entirely unarmed it is an incredibly perilous task but they are resolute. 'We can't talk about disarming the armed groups but we can talk about how to disarm their minds,' says one Guard. When a close associate of Celia's is assassinated, the threat becomes very real. 'You can't stay at home?', asks Celia's daughter? Celia laughs it off. She is determined not to give in: 'We have to make them understand that the control is ours and the territory is ours - that we, as Indigenous Guards, will always be in this territory.'

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