This photographic essay is about the survivors of the South American continent’s oldest armed conflict—Colombia’s civil war. These individuals, despite the unbearable pain of war, are still bravely able to share their stories of uprooting, abandonment and hope.

Hearing them tell of loss, displacement and torture is powerful—even more so today. After all, the country has at last begun to listen to this war’s victims; a timid peace has appeared and shimmered just out of reach. Attention is even being given to sorting out formal relations between the government and the long-time rebels. Though an agreement is not yet formalized, the decades-long story finally seems closer to an end.

But a peace treaty won’t erase everything that has happened. While some places have carried on for decades, blissfully unaware, others have been ravaged. El Carmen de Bolivar is one of the most brutally affected areas of the country. This zone stretches all the way to Colosó, Sucre in the north. In Colosó, there are no visible traces of that bitter era—but as in the rest of the country, the effect lies beneath the surface.

These images are my testimony and homage to the 50 years of grinding, terrifying conflict experienced by a group of Colombians.

—Charlie Cordero

Editor’s Note: Follow Charlie Cordero also on his Instagram and Facebook