Colombia’s Awá – Caught in the Crossfire

The story of who the Awá and a little about how the formation of Cabildos came relatively late to the zone and that the ELN managed to get a foothold. This changed in 2002 when the peace process was ended by the then president of Colombia Andrés Pastrana. Leaving the distention zone – coca cultivation followed…

Forested hills in Nariño Department where the indigenous Awá live. Since 2002 the region has become a scene of conflict as guerrillas, the Colombian army and drugs organisations battle for control. Their conflict has caused many deaths amongst the indigenous Awá & has caused hundreds to flee their homes.

Above: A seven minute multi-media presentation. I was sent by Catholic NGO CAFOD and SNPS to photograph and interview, but as I had just got a camera with video incorporated I decided to throw this together.


Fidelina García Guanga (26) and Porfirio Nastacuas Ortiz (28) with 4 of their 5 children. (l-r front:) Natalie (2), Jainer (5), Diana (10). Back: Niecer (8). The family fled from the Awá reserve of Pialapí.



Displaced from Magüí resguardo in Ricaurte. (l-r): Magaly Adriana (12), Edith Carolina (14), Roberto Horacio Nastacuas Guanga (40), with Gisela Anahi (3), Maria Teresa Canticus (38), Maritza Yuleini (18), Eiber Roberto (14).

About displacement María Teresa


Libardo Nastacuás, whose family has been forcibly displaced by combats between armed groups and the presence of land mines.

Far from their farms the families must bear the cost of renting a room or house or build improvised shelters


About financial situation of displaced families and how this erodes the social fabric of the Awá.



Many Awá men must work on the plantations to pay costs that they did not have to bear back on their farmsteads. No longer in their own homes they must pay rent and unable to work their farms they must purchase food.


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