May 30, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 83°F


Student attempts to bring Colombian problems home

Legislative policy enacted in the U.S. often has an impact on outside countries, and junior Candace Riggs hopes to spread this message to the Ithaca College campus community. As part of a project for her War Occupation and Displacement class, Riggs will screen “Shoveling Water: War on Drugs, War on Peace” at 7:00 p.m. tonight in Textor 101.

The documentary, produced by Witness for Peace, focuses on the displaced population of Colombia and how U.S. free trade policy has affected the country and its cocaine production. Riggs will lead a discussion following the screening.

Contributing writer Katrina Fedczuk spoke with Riggs about her choice of documentary and what she hopes the campus community will gain from the screening.

Katrina Fedczuk: You’re going to be screening a documentary called “Shoveling Water: War on Drugs, War On People.” Could you tell me more about the film?

Candace Riggs:  It’s about Colombia. There are farmers who are trying to grow crops like sugar cane, but their farms are getting fumigated. Any time the U.S. suspects someone is growing coca, the drug that makes cocaine, they take gallons of pesticides and pour it on the fields. The wind takes it everywhere. It’s killing the other crops. Coca is a really strong bush. It always grows back. The other crops don’t.

KF: Why did you select Colombia?

CR: I wanted to do something that was right now. I feel that if you get people involved early into an issue, they’ll have more drive to fight with it. Once something is done, it’s done.  The Free Trade Agreement has been passed by Congress, but it hasn’t been implemented yet, so there is still time to make changes to land reform in Colombia or even changes to U.S. foreign policy before it’s enacted.

KF: What do you hope the campus community will gain from viewing this documentary?

CR:  I hope that they’ll start to see how the U.S. implements their policies. We are really neoliberal. We are all about the market, but we have really lost touch with the people that are being affected, and I don’t think we’re doing enough to protect human rights, to ensure things like water, food and shelter. If you bring these issues to people who are about to go into the real world, maybe they will think about this when they start making changes.

KF: Why should students at the college care about people that we’re never going to meet?

CR: We are really fortunate to live in the United States, and that’s something that gets missed a lot. I feel like this is an issue a lot of people in the United States can relate to, but it’s just not talked about. We see ourselves as above all these situations, but we’re knee-deep. Hopefully, we’ll be bridging the gap, and we’ll be seeing that each person matters.

KF:  What advice would you give to students looking to get involved in activism?

CR: Even if right now you don’t have an issue you advocate for, be aware of what’s going on in the world. You don’t have to paint your body red and run around the U.S. Embassy to be an activist. You just have to care.