Entre Nubes - PhMuseum

Entre Nubes

Ana Vallejo

2016 - Ongoing

Bogota D.C., Colombia

“Entre Nubes” is a sensory and artistic exploration of San Germán, an illegal settlement in southeast Bogotá, and about the life and soul of its inhabitants, the majority of which have migrated from rural parts of the country fleeing violence or searching for better living conditions. This makes San Germán a microcosm of vulnerable populations, where victims of the armed conflict, ex-military, ex-guerilla, native peoples, afro peoples and economically displaced families from within Bogotá converge.

Many neighborhoods in south of Bogotá were intially self-established until their eventual legalization. San German is a living testament of this, and its residents strive for more dignified conditions under precarious circumstances.

Living in an "invasion" neighborhood implies living in a marginal Bogotá. In this Bogotá, land is constantly disputed, the police don't arrive and violence is often first choice in conflict resolution. Here, alliances are fragile and can be bought with money or fear. Nevertheless, people here are resilient and determined to stand tall.

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  • San Germán is located in the Eastern Hills in the periphery of South East Bogotá. In August 2018 270 houses were counted inside the neighborhood.

  • Mary Natalia Guaracá. 16 years old single mother. She was displaced with her family from Caquetá by the FARC. Even though she misses her hometown she feels safer living in San Germán. She goes to the Eucalyptus forest near her house when she seeks peace.

  • The interior of Miguel Navas's house. 60 years old. He was displaced by armed forces from Granada, Meta thirty years ago.

  • Lizet and Karen Daniela are cousins and are both 10 years old. Their families were displaced from Barbacoas, Nariño by armed groups.

  • Many people in the neighborhood do not trust the police. In September 2016 there was a police raid, with around 200 policemen and a helicopter, in which they tried to evict the neighborhood. Six supposed gang leaders were arrested. They were out the same day as no evidence was found against them.

  • Rosa Gallego was displaced from Arauca more than 10 years ago by paramilitaries. Her son still lives in the streets of Arauca, he is a drug addict. Rosa had already lived in other informal neighborhoods and had also tried living in apartments before arriving to San German. She was always evicted for not paying rent. She confessed to me that her daughter's husband was a BACRIM fugitive and that they didn't know how to protect him. In Colombia the BACRIM are considered criminal bands and therefore its members can't enter state demobilization programs. Rosa lived four months in San German with her partner, her partner's son, her daughter and her daughter's husband before moving to Medellin.

  • In humid and wet days the hills are filled with fog. From this comes the name of the natural park in spanish: Entre Nubes (In between clouds)

  • Andrés Felipe, eleven years old. He was displaced from Barbacoas, Nariño with his family as a result of the armed conflict. This picture was taken when he was coming back from a Christian mass that he attends with his sisters every Sunday. Andrés had to quit school in order to contribute economically in his house. He works selling lunches in San Victorino, a commercial area in Bogotá.

  • Members of the community board use phone radios and a megaphone to diffuse important information in the barrio. They also use this media to announce meetings and working and cleaning sessions inside the neighborhood.

  • Arley Estupiñan. 28-year-old Farc member and social leader from Buenaventura. He has been leading San German's legalization process for three years. According to Arley, micro traffic lords pay bribes, known as vacunas, to the police. Arley has been receiving death threats for over a year. In April 2018 hit men were harassing him outside his house, a known tactic to kill social leaders. As a consequence, he had to flee the neighborhood with his family. According to the people in San German, hit men still come around every time Arley comes back to the territory.

    This is one of the few things that Arley took with him from Buenaventura: an iconic book about black resistance. Arley and his partner, Esmeralda, were displaced from Buenaventura by paramilitary groups because they had been denouncing dangerous criminals and local corruption within an ONG. Esmeralda denounced the drug dealer who orchestrated the death of eleven of her cousins in the Punta del Este Massacre in 2005. She declares the Navy sold her testimony to the drug dealer, forcing her to hide since then.

  • Colombia has lived in war for more than 50 years. Before the guerillas, Colombia experienced an armed conflict between Liberals and Conservatives from 1948 to 1958 called La Violencia (the violence) in which a fifth of the population was displaced.

  • The Entre Nubes reserve delimits the northern part of the neighborhood. Fragile and essential species like Espeletias, a water filtering plant, are found in this ecosystem.

  • Jerinson, 30 years old. He is an exmilitary from Puerto Córdoba. In 2017, while he was living in Puerto Córdoba, he stepped on an exposed electric cable walking back home at night. He lives in San Germán since June 2017 and receives a monthly pension from the army.

  • A life vest given to Arley by UNP: Unity of national protection. Arley had to flee the neighborhood due to death threats. Neither UNP or FARC have considerably helped have considerably helped with his hiding and search for long-term alternatives. It has all been left in the hands of private ONG's.

  • Members of the neighborhood came together to move cement posts that were not being used in the Entrenubes park. This was done with the approval of the rangers of the parl. The posts were installed in San German to provide pirate electricity for the houses.

  • The interior of a wooden house in San Germán.

  • Interior of a Venezuelan family's house. The Venezuelan migration is the largest in the history of Colombia. According to the ministry of foreign affairs around 950,000 Venezuelans have migrated to Colombia.

  • Pedro Calderón, 63 years old. In 1989 he joined the urban guerilla M19. There he learned to handle weapons, explosives and also learned Marxist ideology. His daughter Karen Lorena died ten years ago at ayer nine due to a meningitis. He attributes the meningitis to poor praxis in the hospital where she was treated. He moved to San German two years ago.

  • Many kids help with house chores and babysitting younger siblings in the house, sometimes sacrificing going to school.

  • Interior of a house in San German. This family was displaced from Ibagué in 2016 by FARC

  • Jeison, with his son Hanner, 22 and 3 years old respectively. He moved into San Germán in early 2018 with his 17 year old wife. His brother, who was visiting that day, can be seen peeking through the window.

  • The machete is found in almost every household. It is used to work and in house chores. It is also used as a weapon.

  • Luis Alberto and Andrea Suárez. 21 and 24 years old respectively. Alberto is a drug consumer but he tries to control his addiction and sometimes works peeling peas at Corabastos, the biggest food market in Colombia. He graduated high school when he has 14 years old with honors. His father, Hermes, says he was offered a scholarship to go to college, but trying drugs stopped him from studying further. Andrea is unemployed. They have a five-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl.

  • To enter San Germán, you have to go through Juan Rey, a neighborhood of informal origin that was legalized in 1996. All the neighborhoods in this area of the Easter Hills started out as shanty towns.

  • Although there are no common areas in San German, children always find places to play.

  • Exterior of the northernmost house in the neighborhood, delimiting the Entrenubes park.

  • Arley stands guard at the northern point of San Germán. Around 270 families live in San Germán. Arley is currently hiding with his family and relies on the help of ONG's to get by. The future is uncertain for them. A big part of the peace deal signed with FARC focuses on guaranteeing safety to ex-guerilla members and human right defenders. With more than 100 social leaders murdered this year and more than 280 since 2016, the post-conflict scenario is unsettling.