His name is Abelardo and he’s a farmer. These days he works the night shift in the city at a construction job, twelve hours a night, seven nights a week, for very little pay. He lives with his wife Olga and their five children in the slums, in a dirt-floored one-room shack, without electricity or running water.
This is his life now.
Up until this year, Abelardo lived in the countryside. He had his own house on his own plot of land. He cultivated cacao (chocolate) to sell at market and yucca to feed his family. It was a simple life, but a good life. But in the spring of 2010, Abelardo’s farm was destroyed. This is known as Plan Colombia. It’s an effort by the United States to curb the cultivation of coca and the production of cocaine in Colombia with the hopes of cutting down on the amount of drugs in our city streets. The most common method is this: crop-dusting airplanes, accompanied by armed helicopters, fly over an area in the countryside and disperse a potent herbicide over the ground. In theory, only coca crops are targeted. In practice, many fields of yucca, plantains, bananas, and cacao are destroyed. Often the coca lives on.
This is the story of one family who lost everything and is now searching for a place to call home.
Leaving La Floresta is a documentary film produced by Give Us Names, a non-profit organization that was started in order to help Abelardo, Olga, and the millions of displaced people in Colombia find home again. This film was produced in association with Whisper Productions, an Atlanta-based video production company.