Earlier this year the Nasa indigenous people of Colombia’s Cauca region rose up and occupied sections of the enormous sugarcane plantations built on land they claim is theirs by ancestral and constitutional right. It’s the latest clash in a bitter fight that goes back to colonial times.
Armed with slingshots, homemade bazookas and the like, the Nasa have clashed repeatedly with Colombian military and riot police in recent weeks. At the center of the fight: 15,600 hectares of land reportedly promised to the Nasa people by the government decades ago but never transferred.
Indigenous leaders are also protesting the policy of monoculture and the resulting lack of available farming land for locals, growing maize and other plants native to the region on land currently reserved for sugarcane.
The Cauca region has been a flashpoint of internal conflict in Colombia for years. Last week, clashes between FARC guerrilla fighters and the military resulted in the death of at least 10 soldiers, prompting the government to lift the suspension of its bombing campaign against the rebels, part of a delicately held ceasefire agreed to in ongoing peace talks.
Mauricio Morales is a Colombian conflict photographer. Since 2012 he has been covering the war in Syria and it’s spillover into Turkey.