Women guerrillas of the FARC play football at the Transition and Normalisation Zone Mariana Paz in Meta, Colombia, where they are based following the country’s peace agreement, Meta, Colombia, 20 May 2017 (Image/Copyright: Nick MacWilliam/alborada.net)
The rain has come back but the struggle continues for the abandoned Wayuu people of Colombia’s northern region La Guajira.
These photographs were taken in La Guajira region of Colombia in May 2016. We ventured from the northernmost point, which is dry and desert-like, to the southern zone, which exhibits tropical terrain with more vegetation. However, since the opening of the Cerrejón coal mine, the region’s vegetation has been reducing by the day. The coalmine absorbs most natural water resources, while La Guajira also experiences long periods of drought.
On our journey, we interviewed and photographed members of various Wayuu communities who suffer lack of access to fresh water, poor living conditions, incessant exploitation of artisan goods and expropriation of land, largely due to corrupt officials and foreign conglomerates. While witnessing this social crisis, we talked to people fighting for change within their communities. Although during our short visit it started to rain again, the struggle in La Guajira continues.
Above: Dailen works on her latest mochila, a traditional woven handbag featuring abstract geometric patterns and bright colours, with each new design element carrying its own meaning and symbolism. This art form has become the primary form of income for many Wayuu communities. Often they sell their precious goats in order to buy supplies for the creation of mochilas which provide them with finances faster than a goat can feed them. However, competition has increased dramatically since investors started creating sweatshop factories where mochilas are mass-produced and based on template designs.
Above: José Sapuana and his family stand under the roof of their home. The tap water is salty so the rain is a blessing, even though it’s corrosive effect on the structure exposes them to the wet and cold. They have lived here for over 20 years and Jose has applied many times for benefits, but is yet to receive any.
Above: Although the rain has begun to fall again, most of La Guajira remains affected by drought. Where crops once grew, there is nothing but dry dirt and resilient weeds.
Above: Along the gravel roads that lead through Upper Guajira, children set up improvised toll booths, usually blocking the road with a rope across the path, to beg for food or water from travellers.
Above: Most rivers run dry due to the absence of rain. Many Wayuu claim this is due to the huge amounts of water used by the Cerrejón coalmine. Elders reminisce of a time when rivers flowed through the land and crops were plentiful.
Above: Two young boys sit outside a concrete water storage tank in the Perracat community. Since being built in 1998, it has been filled once. A second tank nearby, built by the Red Cross in 2015, is also empty.
The Ni Una Menos movement against gender-based violence has taken hold across Latin America.
Despite the pouring rain, thousands take to the streets of Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires on 19 October 2016 to protest gender-based violence and discrimination. The slogan used by protesters in Argentina and throughout Latin America is #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less).
A selection of these images was originally published in Alborada magazine issue three (Winter 2016/17)
Having fled the violence of Uruguay’s ruling military, Julio Etchart has spent his life capturing conflict and political developments across the world with his camera.
Documentary photography is for me is a means of communication and liberation. By bearing witness to the harsh realities of our world and telling those stories in a meaningful and creative manner, I have found the freedom that was so elusive in my youth.
I left my native Uruguay in 1974, escaping the repression of the military regime, which had staged a coup in June 1973. Under the dictatorship I was twice imprisoned for being an active member of the fledgling (and later banned) Frente Amplio party, a coalition of progressive forces not dissimilar to Chile’s Unidad Popular under Salvador Allende.
After a spell in Paris, I moved to the UK in 1975 where I volunteered for Amnesty International as an interpreter and translator, before studying Documentary Photography and Photojournalism at Newport Art College in Wales.
There was a strong feeling of solidarity with trade unions and refugee and exile groups. My course leader at Newport, the noted Magnum photographer David
Hurn, made a special effort to support