Tumaco: Colombia's forgotten territory (14 March 2017)

Date: 14/03/2017

Duncan Lewis, Main Solicitors, Tumaco: Colombia's forgotten territory

Public Law Solicitor Eleri Haf Davies was invited by Colombia Caravana, a human rights activist group, to form part of a delegation determined to unearth the interlocking socio-economic and political web that has allowed this part of the world to fall to the hands of warring paramilitary forces.

Her report on what the delegation found opens:

The Pacific port of Tumaco has the highest homicide rate in Colombia and is infamous for being the largest centre of cocaine production in the world . Of the 203,971 inhabitants 75% are registered victims of the armed conflict, with the majority of the population of Afro-Colombian descent and 6% of the Indigenous Awá population. Socially marginalised and politically excluded, the citizens of Tumaco remain invisible in national public life.

Incredibly, it was not until 20 years ago, when a highway was built linking Tumaco to the Nariño capital, Pasto that the municipality was formally recognised as a part of the country. Tumaco remains geographically isolated as the only road out of town is controlled by the paramilitary and so the municipality can only reasonably be accessed by air.

The residents live in houses on stilts in neighborhoods that stretch onto the septic Pacific tide, which threatens daily destruction. The displaced population on being forcibly expelled from their land had no choice but to build on rubbish pits. Sanitation is poor if non-existent, few homes have electricity and the local San Andrés Hospital has no access to running water. Economic disparity is high where 84.3% live below the poverty line and 70% are unemployed, seven times the national average.

To read the full report please click here

Duncan Lewis’ Eleri Haf Davies is a Solicitor in the Public Law department. She is an accredited as a Level 2 Senior Caseworker under the Law Society’s Immigration and Asylum Accreditation Scheme and specialises in Latin American asylum claims and human trafficking. Her clients include Colombian, Nicaraguan, El Salvadorian, Cuban, Albanian and Kosovar nationals.

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