Elizabeth and her family

Elizabeth and her family

María Antonia Márquez González

63 Years Old
Shopkeeper
From Bocas de Aracataca, Magdalena

Born in the community of Nueva Venecia, a settlement built on wooden stilts over Santa Marta’s Gran Cienaga lagoon, Maria Antonia lived in the town of Bocas de Aracataca with her husband and children until she was displaced by the AUC. 

Living a simple life, she would help sustain her family by selling bread and pastries. The day the paramilitaries arrived her daughter had just given birth. The nervousness of her people could be felt, she says, as the armed group called a meeting to gather everyone in the town. Although she could not make out everything that was said during the meeting she followed everyone’s lead and just obeyed. 

Her current home in Barrio El Oasis, made from scraps of wood over marshland, has flooded twice in the 15 years since her displacement from Bocas. 

Today, unable to walk properly because of a four-year-long infection in both her feet, Maria Antonia runs a small shop in El Oasis. The lack of government support for her health and family has been compounded by the occasional loss of merchandise through robbery. God, she says, is the only medicine she believes in.

I was never afraid. ‘They can kill me in my own town’ I would say, but no one listened to me.