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Colombia – 2015

Smoke and ash


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(Photo: Neil Palmer (CIAT))

Colombia.

Yesterday evening the welcome back was not really warm, Alfonso thinks, while carefully sweeping away the black ash in front of the small farm. That is how it is, he meditates. Twenty years ago he moved away to the city and, except a postcard now and then, he never has sent news. It is only because Esperanza, his daughter-in-law, has written him a message that he has returned to this place. “Geraldo is gravely ill. Please come soon.”

The small farm is the only one in this area. Besides that you only see endlessly vast sugar cane fields. At harvest time big trucks rumble past with the cut cane. After the harvest the fields are burned off, to make them ready for the next season. Immense clouds of smoke with soot and ash billow through the air. Everything becomes dirty. Breathing is painful. Geraldo, his son, has become dangerously ill from it. Nevertheless he doesn't want to leave, because he wants to stay with his mother Alicia and she cannot make up her mind to leave the farm. It makes Esperanza desperate.


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(Photo: Aleix Cabarrocas Garcia)

Colombia.

How icy Alicia was, yesterday evening, Alfonso considers, wiping the ash off the leaves with a sponge. Soon the water becomes black, when he rinses out the sponge. She blames him for leaving. That is only logical. She didn't want to sell the farm, giving it up to the demolishers. She didn't want to sell their land to that monster company to grow sugar cane here. That he can understand.
But everyone made the best of a bad bargain, because you are no match for such a big company with their strong-arm boys. Everyone knows that. He himself didn't want to experience the destruction. It was so beautiful here with all the orange trees, the corn fields and the meadows with a few cows and even a horse. Fortunately the huge rain tree just in front of the farm is still there. So many birds are sitting in it, piping the whole day. As long as no fields are being burned off in the neighbourhood.


for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Francesco Veronesi)

Colombia.

I did well, coming here, thinks Alfonso, sitting on the bed of Geraldo to feed him. I believe he is happy I came. At least he is no longer alone during the day, when Esperanza and Alicia are gone to cut sugar cane to earn some money. He understands quite well why Alice has become so bitter. But could she really not understand him? He could not bear to see this beautiful farmland being ruined. Really not!

_______________________

Source
The movie Land and Shade (2015) from the Colombian filmmaker César Augusto Acevedo shows the transformation of the countryside, where small farms have to make way for giant sugar cane plantations.



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