TORIBIO, Colombia – Many Colombians refer to this town as ‘Toribistan,’ likening the situation here to that of Afghanistan.
Nestled in the mountains, Toribio sits on the frontline of the long-running civil war between Colombia’s leftist rebels and government troops. The FARC, Latin America’s biggest guerrilla group, hides in the mountains outside town, and police and government soldiers patrol the dusty streets, holding the line against rebel assaults.
Toribio’s residents are often caught in the crossfire.
FARC rebels have launched more than 300 attacks in and around Toribio in recent years. To push back against the guerrillas, police have built a bunker in the middle of the town, where security officers take up positions and fight back. It’s a controversial decision that some say has helped deepen the conflict in Toribio as residents complain state forces are bringing the conflict to their doorsteps.
For many in the town, the crackle of gunfire or the chest-rattling boom of an explosion are a part of everyday life.
Fusion traveled to Toribio to capture what life is like in a flashpoint in Colombia’s nearly five-decade old conflict.