the complicated story of el morro…

…So El Morro is a hill in the heart of Moravia where people went to live, to escape from drug violence and warfare from other barrios in Medellin in the 80’s and 90’s. It is grassy hill, but under the grass is neither earth nor rock but garbage…only garbage and much of it toxic as it also used to be a dumping ground for a nearby hospital’s toxic waste.

2000 little houses used to exist here…in the poorest of conditions…no water but some electricity, illegally tapped from the main grid, now there are only 200. The people are being cleared out and there houses being destroyed because it is so toxic here.

(cross section of the Morro showing the layers of garbage under the grass)

Why am i here? Well one of our video exercises was for each girl to pick a spot in her barrio that means something to her, she then films it while commenting on what she is filming and why she chose it. 3 of the girls chose the Morro as a location, so up we climb, up the Morro, up dirty, grassy, garbagy, steep dirt paths…must be a kind of hell when it rains…and it rains here a lot…

( numbers are placed on the homes by the local authorities, it means the house will be torn down…)

Anyway so 3 girls want to film up here…they ask me what i think of the place?…what can i say?…I tell them its very ugly and also kind beautiful (like everything here…it’s complicated). Up on the top of the hill the view is wonderful…Medellin and the surrounding mountains spreads panoramically before me…and its peaceful too…The housing is very poor, but people do not want to leave here. It is home and everyone who lives here says this is a peaceful barrio. People are afraid they will be moved to a much more violent area…or that they will be housed in very small apartments 7 or 8 stories high with no lifts. People feel very claustrophobic there and kids have already died as they were not used to living high up and so they fell from the balconies…

Sarah films from the top of the hill looking down on the rest of Moravia and Medellin

The Morro will eventually be cleared of all people. There will be some planting but the ground is very poisonous so it will need to be left fallow for some time to come…

Once the girls have finished editing, i will post their films…

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