The Student Media Grant from the Center for Conflict and Development at Texas A & M University allowed me to continue a project started in 2016. While I was a volunteer working with The Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmine, I began to document the impact of anti-personnel mines on the Colombian people and the work of civil society to eliminate this threat from the national territory.
Landmines are different from every other weapon. They are not made to kill but to mutilate, to dismember, to generate fear... They are the only weapons activated by the victim. A Wounded Land explored the landmine issue in Colombia and how it affected the local populations and their relationship with the land. The purpose of this photojournalism project was to raise awareness about the collateral damages and long-term effects of war. When we think about the war we usually think about the fronts, but wars are much more complex and affect people in many ways and for many generations after the cessation of hostilities.
The peace agreement has generated new opportunities to clear landmine in the country, in part by improving access to previously inaccessible areas and by increasing funding. Even though it is far from being done, clearing landmines is essential to give back access to the land. It is the baseline for the hope of a collective reparation. The challenges remain great as the country is still unstable due to political polarization and institutional reluctance to implement the peace programs. After the 52-year conflict with the FARC, the accords also left a power vacuum provoking new clashes between armed groups to take over the territories.
To document the impact of landmines on the survivors, I first went to the CIREC Foundation in Bogota during its "brigade" week, wherewith the support of an American organization, it has produced about fifteen prostheses in the space of one week for people who lost a limb due to a mine. I have been impressed by the efficiency of the team but most of all by the resiliency of the survivors, their determination to overcome their condition and re-establish a "normal" life.