National Geographic : 2018 Jan
82 national geographic • JanUarY 2018 by fear, unable to work their fields or travel to market for supplies, they didn’t venture beyond their own yards for months, suffering accord- ingly. Marín didn’t mention, until I asked, that he himself had lost four relatives to mines. He seemed to me as incapable of optimism as a tree might be of flight. We spoke under the shade of a leafy ficus in a public square bordered by nondescript munic- ipal buildings. Marín was working in Ricaurte as an Awá representative, recruited to receive training in human rights. “It’s a political thing they want to do,” he said, shrugging. “ There’s a budget for it—the Norwegians are giving money.” Nevertheless, he acknowledged, the effort was helping Awá citizens obtain legal documents and file complaints about human rights violations. And as part of the accords signed between the government and the FARC, a joint program with army personnel and demobilized guerrillas is be- ginning the slow and risky process of mine erad- ication. The current combat-free era is a great advantage too, he said: It’s easier now for Awá children to get at least the substandard school- ing available to them. “In my school I was always behind,” Marín said, “because I spent so much time hiding under a mattress from the fighting.” in the booming citieS, with their sophisti- cated restaurants and art galleries and designer buildings, people could forget that a war was on. Even now that foreign investment is turning from a trickle to a flow and traffic jams are world- class, it’s hard to remember that this is a modest economy, with a government that runs on a pain- fully inadequate budget. In Bogotá I talked with a prominent Colombi- an senator, Antonio Navarro Wolff, in a shabby office with a crowded waiting room barely large enough for a hermit and a phone system that looked like it was set up in 1980. Navarro Wolff, once a governor of Nariño, is something of an expert in posconflicto, given that he was a lead- er of the former M-19 guerrilla organization. His group demobilized successfully, and he has kept abreast of the many peace talks that have taken place over the years. I asked him which post-conflict task the gov- ernment should take on first, in light of budget and personnel limitations: Land restitution to campesinos evicted from their holdings by para- militaries? Education and resocialization for some 7,000 demobilized guerrilla troops? Exhu- mations and identification of Colombia’s tens of thousands of “disappeareds”? Mine clearing? “ The principal, most urgent, question is only one,” Navarro Wolff answered. “ Who is going to occupy the land abandoned by the FARC? The government or the new criminal bands?” Guerrillas and paramilitaries fought for con- trol of remote territories ideal for growing coca and the kind of poppy used for making heroin. “ The guerrillas may go, but the land remains,” Navarro Wolff said. And so does the illegal drug trade—and the drug war. “ What we need now is police. In the posconflicto the task will no longer be to kill criminals but to make sure that there A pit full of plastic balls at La Octava bar typifies Medellín’s growing nightlife and tourist appeal. It’s a dramatic change from the violent days under Escobar’s Medellín cartel, which at its height brought in as much as four billion dollars a year in the cocaine trade.