Violence in the Coffee Region: the suffering of the Afro and indigenous communities in the territory

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In addition to forced displacement, homicides and loss of property, these communities also saw their cultural traditions affected by the armed conflict

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María Paula González

Violence in the Coffee Region: the suffering of the Afro and indigenous communities in the territory

According to the Single Registry of Victims in the Coffee Region, between 1978 and 1991, 528 indigenous people and 91 Afro-Colombians were direct victims of violence.

Colombia, a privileged coffee land with two seas, mountain ranges, mountains , plains, jungles and deserts; unfortunately, it is also renowned for violence. The armed conflict in the country has been talked about for decades, but since the signing of the Final Peace Agreement, in 2016, at least that last three-letter word is part of the discussion.

Violence, crimes and victims are found throughout the national territory, regardless of geographical, economic or social. Through the chapterColombia Adentro of the Final Report of the Truth Commission the conflict from 1958 to 2016 was addressed throughout the country, dividing it into 11 regions with each of their particularities.

The Coffee AxisIt is one of the smallest regions analyzed by the Commission -which joins the department of Antioquia as a macroregion- and is made up of the departments of Quindío, Risaralda and Caldas. Despite its small geographical extension, compared to the other 10 regions, this represents one of the richest portions of the country in productive land and with difficult access, since the western and central mountain ranges pass through these departments at the same time.< /p>

Unfortunately, it is also one of the territories that suffered severely from the armed conflict in the country, due to the dispute between criminal groups to use those lands, which led to the displacement of thousands of people, among them, belonging to to indigenous and black communities.

According to the Single Registry of Victims in the Coffee Region, between 1978 and 1991, 528 indigenous and 91 Afro-Colombians were direct victims of violence and, between 1991 and 2002, there were 103,313 direct victims of the armed conflict, of which 85,058 were displaced from their territories.

The populations living in these three departments (2.5 million of inhabitants) are loaded with a strong culture that, in the eyes of the rest of the country, could only be linked to Antioquia, but the truth is that due to its location -limiting with Antioquia, Chocó, Valle del Cauca, Tolima and Cundinamarca-, In the Coffee Region there is much more than paisas and coffee.

An example of this is the municipality of Guamal, a place located in the northwest of the department of Caldas, between the jurisdiction of the municipalities of Supía and Riosucio. According to the territorial volume of the Final Report of the CEV dedicated to the Coffee Axis, in this place “since 1717 an Afro community has lived that works the production of panela.” Or Marmato, a place recognized for its important gold mines and which, at the same time, is the municipality in the region with the largest black population.

In both cases, the people who inhabit the area are descendants of slaves and have been there since the time of the Spanish colony. The community of Guamal, since 1990, is one of the 32 that are part of the Cabildo del Resguardo Indígena Cañamomo Lomprieta; however, there the surname Moreno and African rhythms reign to mark their difference from the indigenous communities.

In that small portion of land, although loaded with the cultural roots of the paisas and the flagship product of the Colombians, panela is produced and yes, also coffee, the first 'Afro' coffee in the country. Since 1700, the people of Guamalia have remained in a territory that was also affected by violence, but from which they did not completely disappear in order to preserve their history, one that is marked by the pain of slavery and the family bond of a community in which all are cousins.

Moreno, they all have the surname Moreno, to preserve the inheritance of one of the last slave masters, Josefa Moreno, a Spaniard who came with her servants to this remote place and where the descendants of the Africans he brought appropriated his last name.

However, the armed conflict reached this territory not only to make the inhabitants victims of displacement, threats, murders or forced recruitment, but also to affect the culture of the communities. This is reflected in a file of the Commission that talks about the suffering of the black people in the midst of the conflict, which details that, according to the Unit for Comprehensive Care and Reparation for Victims, the fact that most suffered by the black, Raizal, and Palenquera population was forced displacement followed by threats, homicides, and the loss of movable or immovable property.

Likewise, it added that while 15% of people who reported ethnicity were displaced from their territory, 98% of Palenqueros and 37.5% of Blacks/Afro-Colombians.

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