The 50-year civil war is over but, in the Cauca Valley, indigenous communities are on frontline of fight against drug gangs, riot police and deforestation

A green-and-red flag flies over a cluster of bamboo and tarpaulin tents on the frontline of an increasingly deadly struggle for land and the environment in Colombia’s Cauca Valley.

It is the banner for what indigenous activists are calling the “liberation of Mother Earth”, a movement to reclaim ancestral land from sugar plantations, farms and tourist resorts that has gained momentum in the vacuum left by last year’s peace accord between the government and the paramilitaries who once dominated the region – ending, in turn, the world’s longest-running civil war.

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