In 1997, paramilitary troops working with governmental forces entered the Cacarica River Basin in northwestern Colombia, killing dozens and forcing displacement of thousands of Afro-Colombians. Some inhabitants of Cacarica were kept in a sports stadium in Turbo, for two years, guarded by paramilitaries outside. Known as Operation Genesis, it was an effort to expand oil palm plantations throughout the region.
Humanitarian areas were established in 2001 and some inhabitants were able to return to their land. In December 2013, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) ruled that Colombia is responsible for not preventing the displacement and the murder of civilian Marino Lopez Mena. While the ruling is significant, community members are still threatened.
Photographed in 2010, on assignment for Peace Brigades International.