Faces from San Carlos, Colombia

PhotographerLothar Troeller
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

People of San Carlos, Colombia, are traumatized. For decades they have suffered under the violence between guerrilla and paramilitary forces. Almost everybody can report murdered family members. At the moment violence is calming down; so people take the risk to relocate with the help of the government to their destroyed homes. I photographed 20 stories. Next year I plan to go back to offer photography workshops to support the healing process of the local high school students.

Story

People of San Carlos, Colombia, are traumatized. For decades they have suffered under the violence between guerrilla and paramilitary forces. Almost everybody can report murdered family members. At the moment violence is calming down; so people take the risk to relocate with the help of the government to their destroyed homes. I photographed 20 stories. Samuel Hernandez, Dinamarca Village, Community Leader. “My brother disappeared in 2002. Then my son got killed. I feared for my life and moved into urban San Carlos. But after two years I have returned to my home in my village outside San Carlos.” Jiovani Ciro Cardona, Fisherman and Gold Miner. “We were five children. I am the only one left living near San Carlos. After the paramilitaries killed my dad right in front of the house by mistaken identity in 1998 on Father’s Day my uncle also disappeared. We left San Carlos that year to live in Medellin. I came back with my wife in 2010, but the rest of my family still lives in Medellin.” Pastora Mira, Documentarian at the former so-called House of Horror. “I lost my daughter Sandra who was kidnapped by the paramilitaries and then disappeared. Then my son, who had just turned 18, was also killed by them. I channel my pain and anger into helping others look for their missing relatives. I found eight bodies before I finally found my daughter’s body in a mass grave near a river bank in 2008.” Jesús Maria Martinez, Sugar Cane Work. “While I was rebuilding mu house I got offered the position of Presidente Empresa Comunitaria El Poblado Vallejuelos to replace the former Presidente who got killed years ago. For a while this community was not operating out of fear of attacks. My job now is to help the farmers to regain trust.” Pablo Guarín, Retired City Council Member. “I used to have an agenda where I wrote down all the murders and massacres in San Carlos. The armed groups brutally tortured and killed around 5000 people with chain saws. Not all of these victims were recognized by the government because the relatives were afraid to report them.” Next year I plan to go back to offer photography workshops to support the healing process of the local high school students.