Looking at All Sides in Colombia’s Conflict

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Looking at All Sides in Colombia’s Conflict

Credit Alvaro Ybarra Zavala/Archivo Macondo

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When combatants lay down their weapons, it’s merely the beginning of peace. The harder task, especially in a conflict that has dragged on for decades, it to find social peace. The Spanish photographer Alvaro Ybarra found that to be the case in Colombia, where lawmakers last year approved a peace accord with the FARC rebels. Not only does each side have its own grievances, he said, but there often are vastly different perceptions of the conflict, with people living in bustling cities unaware of the hardships facing their countrymen in remote areas.

“People have grown up in this monologue of fear and have not considered the other realities of the conflict,” Mr. Ybarra said. “It’s like their memories have been held hostage. They lived parallel lives. My friends in Bogotá had no idea what was happening in other parts of the country, and vice versa. Neither knew the problems of the other. That silence terrified me.”


CAQUETÁ, COLOMBIA — APRIL 2016. A group of civilians attending the Stations of the Cross in the community of Puerto Camelias del Caguán. Many regions of Colombia have lived for more than 52 years under the government of the FARC rebels as the only authority.Credit Alvaro Ybarra Zavala/Archivo Macondo

The accords, he said, opened the possibility for dialogue, and he is doing his part to contribute. In April, he will be presenting his new book, “Macondo: Memories of the Colombian Conflict.” More ambitiously, he is donating an archive of images he has taken in Colombia over the last 14 years and encouraging others to follow his example to create a resource for people to understand the scope of their country’s recent history.

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