Luis van Isschot has written a compelling, powerful, and critical history of human rights movements in Colombia from the early twentieth century to the first decade of the twenty-first. He presents a nuanced social, political, and economic history of one of Colombia's most important industrial centers—Barrancabermeja and the surrounding Magdalena Medio region, home to the largest petroleum refinery in the country. It is a story of violence because a multiplicity of social actors rallied around the cause of human rights as a product, and in a context, of armed conflict between state military forces, insurgent groups, and paramilitary death squads in which the majority of victims were civilians. But this is also a story of political creativity, mass mobilizations, solidarity, resistance, and hope, because the same social actors advocating human rights fought hard for economic justice and social change.

Scholars have grown...

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