Kolumbien: Hilda Liria Domicó Bailarín

The people of our ethnic groups are only happy in the forest, where we have our roots. The forest keeps our traditions alive. We want to return. We cannot live in villages or urban places.

— Hilda Liria Domicó Bailarín

“It was very sad to see my people suffering from hunger, when in the forest we had everything,” says Hilda Domicó (30), a displaced Colombian. She was born into the Embera-Katio ethnic group. Her father, her brother and her uncle, all of them community leaders, were massacred by the guerrillas in the 1990s. She works for the recovery of her ethnic group's identity and for other peasant, afro-descendent and indigenous communities. She has suffered death threats. She has not yet been able to return to her territory, the forest.

Hilda Domicó was born into the Embera-Katio ethnic group, 30 years ago, in Urabá, Colombia, in the administrative district of Antioquia. At age six, she was sent to study with other children, white children. She could not understand anything because she did not speak any Spanish. “It is very difficult to meet another world,” she says. Today, she teaches her native language, Embera-Katio, at the University of Antioquia. She inherited the fight for her community from her father, an indigenous leader assassinated in 1997 by the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces. Her brother, uncle and other community leaders were also murdered. Hilda was threatened with death. It was a year of massacres and displacements. The survivors left the forest and went to villages in the urban area: “It was very sad to see my people suffering from hunger, when in the forest we had everything,” she remembers. The young and the elderly died. They still cannot return to their territory because the guerrillas and the army have occupied it. “Our people will be happy only if we live in the forest; we cannot live in villages or urban places; for us that is not life,” says Hilda. She is not only the president of the Multiethnic Organization of Antioquia, she has also joined a project called Puppets against Bullets, with which she travels to villages where peasants, indigenous and black people have suffered persecution and displacement. The displaced people, as a form of therapy, make the puppets and act out situations, providing them with dialog. It helps people to face the traumas. In the meantime, the children dance the ‘cumbia’: “Mom, I cannot stand it,” they say. No, no one can stand the war.

Multiethnic Organization of Antioquia