Forensic Architecture and Colombian Truth Commission






United Kingdom and Colombia


26:05 min



Credits: Courtesy of Forensic Architecture and the Truth Commission

Forensic Architecture—a research agency conducting visual investigations of human rights and environmental violations—together with the Colombian Truth Commission, a transitional justice institution created to shed light on the country’s decades-long war history, examine land dispossession in Colombia’s Urabá region. This area of the country, on the north-western Caribbean coast, is today the center of Colombia’s banana industry. It is also known for its history of violence. Thousands of local farmers have been displaced, leaving behind their homes and small plantations.

The project “Dispossession and the Memory of the Land” investigates and exposes the process that led to the displacement of local people and the loss of their land, as well as the violence against the land itself. It also examines how industrial banana producers profited from the dispossession of the peasants. Forensic Architecture uses archival material, aerial and satellite imagery, and the “situated testimony” technique to reconstruct three sites of paramilitary massacres of banana workers, trade unionists, and peasants in the area. The research shows that the dispossession occurred in the shadow of armed repression, massacres, and terror by Colombian military and paramilitary forces.

The video California explores the displacement and process of land dispossession of peasants in Vereda California, an area in Nueva Colonia and surrounded by land belonging to the banana companies. Analyzing data from hundreds of documents that trace financial and real estate transactions from 1955 to the present, this investigation reveals the complex web in which banana companies—both national and international—, banks, trusts, and state institutions concealed the massive accumulation of land. Analyzing leaked documents from Chiquita Brands (formerly United Fruit Company), it shows that the company was involved in sponsoring the militias in the area and the dispossession of peasant lands in the region.  

Forensic Architecture Team

Eyal Weizman (Main Researcher), Hannah Meszaros-Martin (Lead Researcher), Ariel Caine (Project Coordinator), Manuel Correa, Nicholas Masterton, Sergio Beltrán-García, Agata Nguyen Chuong, Alican Aktürk, Zac Ioannidis, Mateo Plummer-Fernández, Olukoye Akinkugbe, Lola Conte, Nour Abuzaid, Jumanah Bawazir, Elara Shurety, Sarah Nankivell, Elizabeth Breiner, Robert Trafford, Christina Varvia, Samaneh Moafi 

Truth Commission 

Alejandro Valencia Villa (Commissioner), Oscar Pedraza (Researcher in Charge), Folco Zaffalon (Project Coordinator), Fernanda Barbosa, Gustavo Niño Rojas, Miguel Osorio 

Extended Team 

Remote Sensing and Cartographic Analysis: Paulo José Murillo Sandoval, Ana María Valencia Palacios, Juan F. Blanco, Carlos Montoya 

Sound design: Sergio Fernández Borrás, Julián Galay, Mark Nieto 

Voice-over narration: Laura Camila Arévalo Domínguez, Hannah Meszaros Martin 



Instituto Popular de Capacitación 

Forjando Futuros