Image from NBC News and Colombia Reports
Until three years ago, rebel-controlled areas of Colombia’s lush Amazon rainforest which was used as a hiding place for cocaine farmers growing raw coca plants.
Then peace came and many farmers were forced to sell their land.
Ones misfortune is the others fortune
Calamar is the town that cocaine built. Until recently ruled by armed guerrillas. It is situated at the end of the road in Colombia’s most remote Guaviare province, where the Amazon rainforest looms.
First established as a settlement to harvest rubber, in the 1980s Calamar and its surrounds became a stronghold for cocaine production, overseen by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Latin America’s oldest and largest guerrilla movement.
During the country’s decades-long civil war, the dense rainforest of Guaviare province provided ideal cover for FARC’s kidnapping and cocaine operations (the French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt was among those held in captivity). The guerillas encouraged local farmers to create coca plantations and paid them generously for the crop. The global appetite for the white gold meant boom time for Colombia. People had money in their pockets and a regular income. Cocaine was like a plate of food for them.
In late 2016, the Colombian government signed a peace treaty with FARC, ultimately bringing to an end more than half a century of armed conflict. A key part