2019: Communities resist in the crossfire

The Jiguamiandó River is a natural border in the Bajo Atrato sub-region, in the north of the Chocó department. There, on the banks of the river, live Afro-descendant and Embera indigenous communities who lived through violence and land grabbing in the 1990s. In this period, thousands of people were forcibly displaced from the area, while others hid in the forest and peacefully resisted to protect their lands. These were tragic years, yet out of this devastation, people have developed collective organisation and created humanitarian zones to protect themselves non-violently[1]. In spite of this peaceful resistance, recognised by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights,[2], the communities of Jiguamiandó continue to struggle for the respect of their lands and their basic rights.

The Jiguamiandó River has also created fertile lands, with rich minerals under the soil, which attract the interests of large companies. For a number of years, the river area has marked an invisible border over which armed actors fight for control of the land, territory and drug-trafficking routes leading out to the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans[3].

At the end of December 2018, the Colombian army bombarded[4] the area just a few metres away from the Nueva Esperanza Humanitarian Zone, one of the first humanitarian zones created in this region. The inhabitants were made to relive the worst moments of the war, and then in February and March 2019, armed confrontation broke out between the paramilitary group known as the Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, the State Security Forces and the ELN guerrilla group, in close proximity to the civilian population[5]. The fear and confinement caused by this confrontation, led to the death of several children from the Uradá-Jiguamiandó Indigenous Territory and also caused an outbreak of malaria[6]. The armed confrontation has currently stopped, however, the armed actors and companies[7] interested in the territory continue to surround the Jiguamiandó communities[8] who only wish to live alongside mother earth.

In this last video in our 25th anniversary series, three leaders from this territory talk about what they have lived through this year.


PBI Colombia


[1] Ccj, Cijp: Zonas Humanitarias y Zonas de Biodiversidad: Espacios de dignidad para la población desplazada en Colombia, January 2009, 25p

[2] Cidh: Medida Cautelar No. 140-14, Comunidades, líderes y lideresas afrodescendientes de Jiguamiandó, Curvaradó,

Pedeguita y Mancilla respecto de Colombia, (Ampliación), 7 Februari 2018

[3] El Espectador: El Carmen del Darién, centro del conflicto, 5 Februari 2018

[4] Cijp: Bombardeos afectan comunidades en Territorio Colectivo de Jiguamiandó, 8 December 2018

[5] Cijp: Sitiada la población en Zona Humanitaria, 20 Februari 2009

[6] Ocha: Flash Update No. 1 – Confinamiento en Jiguamiandó – Carmen del Darién (Chocó), 7 March 2019

[7] Cijp: La lucha embera contra la minería en el Chocó, 4 November 2019

[8] Cijp: Operaciones armadas de AGC en medio de actuaciones militares, 9 December 2019

**Video realized by Javier Bauluz and produced thanks to the support the International Cooperation Agency of Extremadura for the Development (AEXCID)


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