Director’s note

In 2011, for the first time, Colombia became Germany’s main coal supplier. This prompted me to undertake a research trip into the coal mining regions of this South American country.
The psychological condition of the villagers affected by coal mining was shocking. They were distraught, paralysed by a feeling of powerlessness thanks to the mining companies’ often ruthless behaviour. They were suffering the consequences of the mining: dust, noise, water shortages and resultant crop losses, along with the threat of losing their homes and land. What’s more, people everywhere had lost their sense of togetherness. The companies had succeeded in weakening or destroying the village communities and creating a situation in which organised resistance was impossible. In the face of existential threats, every family was fighting for its own survival. People couldn’t expect to receive any support from state institutions: on the contrary, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos described the mining industry as a driver of development in his country. Special divisions of the Colombian army were stationed in the mining regions to ensure that nothing was allowed to disrupt the operation of the coal mines.
Tamaquito was faced with just as many threats as the other remaining villages. Here, though, the mood was completely different. There were no signs of resignation. The community seemed strong and self-confident. It was led by a young man who radiated quiet authority and self-assuredness. How had these people succeeded in maintaining the integrity of their community and negotiating on an apparently equal footing with representatives of the mining companies? I had a small research camera with me and, as I filmed in Tamaquito, I knew that this was where I wanted to make the film. Our group’s visit lasted only around three hours. When it came to an end, I asked Jairo Fuentes, the village’s young leader, if he could picture us recording Tamaquito’s resettlement process. He responded that it was a decision for the village’s general assembly. He also said, “But I see no problem with it. We’re fighting the same fight”. These were our parting words in September 2011.
The general assembly of Tamaquito agreed to the project. It took more than a year to develop the film proposal and raise most of the necessary funding. In January 2013, we finally began filming in Tamaquito.