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21 December 2008 Afro-Colombians Fight Biodiesel Producers

For Afro-Colombians evicted from their land in north-western Colombia and along the Pacific coast, the loss of familiar surroundings of lush jungle and rugged mountains can be devastating.

 

Take Yajaira, a slender 18-year-old, one of four children whose family was displaced from a settlement in the Cacarica river basin just south of Colombia`s border with Panama.

 

She misses her place of origin deeply.

 

"My home was surrounded by banana and mango trees, and coconut palms," she recalls, fingering a bracelet she wears made of seeds and feathers gathered in tropical forests.

 

"We used to bathe and fish in a nearby stream."

 

Currently, Yayaira spends part of the year in Bogota, Colombia`s Andean capital, where blue-black clouds seem to hover perpetually over the city.

 

It often rains and it is cold, in sharp contrast to the sultry heat of the north-west.

Tens of thousands of other displaced Afro-Colombians are also dispersed in Colombian cities.

 

Many live precariously in sprawling shantytowns, such as Ciudad Bolivar, in the south of the capital.

 

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