Intro Luis Neida Blas Leiner Outro

Journey home

Sat on the back of a moto-taxi speeding along a dirt road every bump hurts. But whenever the sand changes to the new plaster stones, taxista Somer accelerates.


Getting to El Salado from the nearest village, El Carmen, now takes
30 minutes. Twelve years ago, it was a five hour journey, if lucky.


When Luis Torres in February 2002 with 99 men and 8 women first went back to El Salado after the massacre, nature had taken its toll over the old route.


Especially the halfway point, called "Las Vacas", held the anxious group back.

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Exiled again


But the political violence reached another low after the massacres of 2000 in Colombia.


Now, though the paramilitaries forces were officially demobilised since 2006, those who kept their weapons found new targets.


Many rural leaders of returning village populations started to demand their land back, among them Maria Cabrera from El Salado. She was executed in open daylight in June 2006.


At least 71 rural leaders were killed between 2006 and 2011. Until today, only one conviction has been made (click). And an InsightCrime report (click) finds an increasing number of assassinations of human rights activist by neo-paramilitary forces.


Lucho's love for his home threatened his life once again.


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A final return?

"There is still much to do in El Salado."


This becomes the most apparent after one of the few storms in the Montes de Maria.


Dirt roads are turned into rivers, are turned into mud traps. Trucks get easily stuck in those, knows Torres first-hand.


And as soon as it happens, he stands up from a shadowy bench in front of the office of the Fundación Semana, grabs his hat and a shovel and starts digging the tires free.


Soon many more help out. But the village knows: They can always count on Torres.



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