By Alberto Maretti
Buenaventura is a port city situated on the Pacific coast and is known to be one of the most violent in Colombia. Through the years thousands of people were forced to flee their homes and move from one quarter to another because of the ongoing conflict between the various neo-paramilitary organizations, who act with local armed gangs.
These are the authors of the killing, dismemberment and disappearance of anyone who opposes to their interests. To carry out these acts of brutal violence, they often use chop-up houses. In March 2014, the government has militarized the city in order to protect the population, which for 80% lives below the poverty threshold and in fear of being involved in violent actions. The poorest areas are fertile ground for recruitment by armed groups and often even very young boys begin soon their “career” inside violence.
In Buenaventura the contrast between a city that grows with international trade and one of poverty and violence is clearly visible. The development plans carried out by the Government for the city, including the demolition of stilt-homes, has led to a worse condition of the daily life. Inhabitants complain about an increase in intimidation and violence, methods mostly used instead of a relocation based on the payment of people’s land.