War and Peace: Between Bombs and Potatoes in Colombia

January 8, 2013

Artist Federico Zukerfeld presents a video about the creative struggles of the indigenous people of Colombia’s Cauca Valley, who are demanding an end to the civil war that has interrupted their lives for half a century.

The conflict between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) continues after nearly 50 years. The protracted civil war has hindered the prospects for land redistribution and the alleviation of rural poverty. While the results of recent peace talks remain uncertain, the southwestern province of Cauca—a mineral-rich hub also used as a base for cocaine trafficking—has become a militarized zone. The area, which borders the Pacific Ocean, is now a front line for the battle between FARC and the government, leaving the area’s indigenous people caught in the crossfire.

In July 2012, the native Nasa tribe clashed with army troops, demanding that both soldiers and guerrillas leave their land. This battle resulted in the departure of approximately 100 soldiers from the military bases installed within the tribe’s community.

Colombian media manipulated the July event, reporting that the Nasa were the ones who perpetrated the violence. But independent media—as well as this video shot by artist Federico Zukerfeld—show another reality, one where the indigenous community uses peaceful means to transform Cauca into a forum for dialogue among all sectors of society.

Zukerfeld was initially invited to Colombia to develop a workshop at Lugar a Dudas, a non-profit art center in Cauca. Many of the workshop’s participants expressed concern for the region’s conflict. In reaction, Zukerfeld, alongside several from the workshop, embarked on a journey to Popayan, the capital of the Cauca region, to make both this video and a series of performances entitled “Somos Muchos” or “We are Many.”