“A soft light pervades the dusty rooms of the colonial building. Every corner is stashed with testimonies of the department’s recent past.”

Away from the overly beaten touristic tracks of the Eje Cafetero, hidden among the anonymous streets of the small town of Calarcá, two unassuming men guard one of the most important treasures of the region.
Luis Fernando and José, also known as El Nono, run the Museo Grafico y audiovisual del Quindío, a sanctuary of memory and resistance in the hearth of the Eje Cafetero.
Every half decent guide of the region or “Things to visit” type of website should include this little gem.

A soft light pervades the dusty rooms of the colonial building. Every corner is stashed with testimonies of the department’s recent past.
Behind a casual collection of vintage cameras and old film equipment, this small underfunded museum conducts one of the important preservation work in Quindio with over 400 thousands scans, photos, documents and films.
In a country where politics and media work hard to keep the historical memory short, the audiovisual museum is a bastion of unflinching resistance.

The ambition of the little museum doesn’t stop at the past, it is also projected towards the future. A future that looks rather bleak.
With the price of coffee steadily falling, big companies are looking into new ways to monetise the “unfortunately abundant” resources of the Eje cafetero.
From large mining (as in the case of La Colosa or the Suroeste Antioqueño1), to the exploitation of water resources2, to the expansion of new monoculture plantations (i.e. palm trees, avocado), it doesn’t take long to realise that the old colonial system of exploiting natural resources with complete disregard for the environment is still alive and kicking.

Hence the museum commitment to raise awareness among the people of the region about the inherent risks brought by handing out concessions to large multinational mining companies.
Last year the museum organised the first international illustration contest of the region, FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE CARICATURA POR LA APROPIACIÓN Y PRESERVACIÓN DEL TERRITORIO PCC (Paisaje Cultural Cafetero).

Among others, one touching illustration by the talented Liu Qiang (China) spoke louder than a thousand lectures.

This year the untiring duo is joining forces with the city of Bucaramanga in the fight to preserve the Santurbán paramo, one of the most important water resources in Colombia3). The 2018 edition of the Illustration Festival will title Water has memory and will again try to raise awareness on the importance to preserve our water sources.

In the end resistance is not about fighting the big windmills; it is about helping neighbours and friends to see what is happening around them.

1 A quick look at the Observatorio de Conflictos Ambientales, managed by the Colombian National University, gives an idea on the actual scale of the environmental risk the country is facing (https://conflictos-ambientales.net).
2 “In April 2006, the Peoples Permanent tribunal, Colombia chapter, found Coca Cola and other transnational corporations, among which Nestlé, guilty of violating workers’ human rights and of attempting to destroy Sinaltrainal, as well as of the pillaging Colombia’s natural resources, in particular water.”
Source CETIM (https://www.cetim.ch)
3 This article from national newspaper Vanguardia gives a quick introduction over the theme (http://www.vanguardia.com)

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