Cano Manso Community Resident
Colored Pencil - 14" x 17"
This resident is from the Caño Manso community in the Urabá region of Northwest Colombia. His community, along with MANY others along the Cacarica River basin, were forcibly displaced during a 1997 military and paramilitary operation known as Operation Genesis. During this operation, thousands were displaced to make way for big businesses that wanted the land to farm palm oil and bananas.
General Rito Alejo del Río, the commander of the Colombian army’s 17th brigade (the brigade responsible for Operation Genesis), graduated from the School of the Americas in 1967, a U.S. training school for Latin American soldiers currently located in Fort Benning, Georgia. The school is now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).
In 1998, General Rito Alejo del Río was still considered a “success story” from the School of the Americas, a position the U.S. government retracted a year later as more evidence arose regarding his ties to paramilitaries. Although the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the Colombian state guilty of forced displacement, residents have yet to see any reparations. However, while facing continued violence, the community of Caño Manso reclaimed some of their land in 2005.
Today, they still face threats from paramilitaries operating on behalf of big businesses that want their land.
Threats to activists and communities have intensified across Colombia following the ratification of the peace accords in 2016. Paramilitaries and businesses are using this time of FARC demobilization to try and acquire more land and silence dissenting voices.