The Afterlives of Coca and its Dreams
On one of the slopes of Colombia's northern mountains there is a small village with the name of a blade, Machete. A hamlet funded by settlers, it would come to be known as the center of coca growing and cocaine production in the region as well as the turf of a very well known paramilitary leader. My memories of the place involve armed young men patrolling roads while heavy drinking took place at cantinas. Mountain slopes covered in patches of green coca fields and marked by paths leading to the processing labs. I remember vividly the feeling of eyes on my back, saying mind your business and move on. By the time I was able to photograph this town, “el Patron” was in a US penitentiary sentenced for drug trafficking, the murder of DEA agents, and allegations of sexual violence. This series is about the uncertainty that comes with such moments of transition of so-called post-conflict situations. It is about people’s dreams and memories at such moments of friction between change and sameness.