Displacement of Rural Families

What is affected
Housing private
Type of violation Forced eviction
Date 14 July 2009
Region LAC [ Latin America/Caribbean ]
Country Colombia
Location estate of Las Pavas, administrative district of Buenos Aires, municipality of El Peñón, Bolívar province

Affected persons

Total 120
Men 0
Women 0
Children 100
Proposed solution
Details Colombia_Letter_2009.docx


Forced eviction
Land losses

- Land area (square meters)

- Total value
Housing losses
- Number of homes 7
- Total value €

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

Private party
Brief narrative

Colombia: displacement of rural families, Bolívar region

By: Land Research Action Network

On July 14, 2009, 120 families were forcibly displaced. They are from the estate of Las Pavas, located in the administrative district of Buenos Aires in the municipality of El Peñón in the southern Bolívar province. Members of the National Police and the Anti-disturbance squads entered into the community, destroying 7 houses, sacking their belongings and removing the families, including 100 children, from their houses.

These families are currently without access to their livelihood or assistance. The forced displacement and the lack of secure access to land are a violation of the right to food of these families. Please send letters to the President of the Republic of Colombia calling on him to guarantee the immediate return of these families to their homes, to assist them and to pay compensation for the damage suffered. Please send a copy of your letter to the Ombudsman’s Office of Colombia, to the Farmer’s Association of Buenos Aires (ASOCAB), and to the legal advisers of the Land.

Back Ground

Given their lack of livelihoods, rural families who subsequently founded the Farmer’s Association of Buenos Aires (ASOCAB) began to live on the Las Pavas grounds in 1997. The land had not been used since 1992 and belonged to Jesús Emilio Escobar Fernández.

The families occupied the land peacefully and used it for farming until members of the paramilitary group Bloque Central Bolívar invaded the region in 2003. They threatened, killed and abducted people, burnt their houses, and killed their animals. Given this threatening behavior and due to the lack of protection by the state the families had to flee their land. Thus, between 2004 and 2006, the families were without shelter and constantly on the move. Lacking other options to make a living and despite general fears of violence in the region, the families decided to slowly gain back their land to continue farming, all at their own risk and without guaranties. In 2006, ASOCAB opened formal procedures at the Colombian Institute for Rural Development (INCODER). In accordance with Act 160 1994, Article 52, they requested to extinguish private ownership over an area of 1,235.5 ha given that these lands had been abandoned and were not farmed by their owners. In July 2006, members of INCODER inspected and confirmed an agriculture, regular, and stable use of the land by ASOCAB.

At the end of 2006 after hearing about the formal procedures initiated by the famers, the owner of the land invaded the grounds with armed squads threatening to kill the families if they did not leave the land. Shortly after these threats, members of the paramilitary group Bloque Central Bolívar burnt down the families’ houses, killed their animals, and forced them to leave once again.

In March 2007, Mr. Escobar Fernández sold the estates in question to two companies: C.I. Tequendama S.A and Aportes San Isidro S.A. Both companies grow oil palm in the region and are members of the Colombian National Federation of Palm Oil Producers (Fedepalma). C.I. Tequendama belongs to the agroindustrial group Daabon Organic. They produce and export agricultural products such as coffee, bananas, sugar, and palm oil to Japan, Korea, the UK, Germany, Belgium, and the USA among others.

Based on the INCODER inspections, the National Land Unit (UNAT) issued the Resolution 1473 of 2008 from November 11, 2008, which started the administrative proceedings that aim at establishing whether or not to extinguish the right to private ownership of the former owner to the designated rural areas, Las Pavas, Peñaloza, and Si Dios Quiere, whose proceedings are in the notification stage. Considering this situation and hoping for decisive state action, the 123 families decided to return to Las Pavas.

In January 2009, the new owners, C.I. Tequendama and Aportes San Isidro., filed a petition for a police operation to remove the families and to defend their land ownership. The police of El Peñón, in Resolution No. 003 issued on February 25, 2009 called upon the ASOCAB families to give up the occupation and ordered the eviction. ASOCAB’s lawyers filed a tutela recourse against this Resolution by protecting constitutional rights and were, thus, successful in stopping the removal at first. The companies appealed against the decision of the judge who granted the tutela so that the displacement was carried out on July 14, 2009. However, the eviction order does not comply with Colombian law (article 5, decree 747, 1992) , which prohibits the removal of farmers from land that is subject to administrative proceedings of extinguishment of ownership. At the moment, the families are living deprived from means of subsistence and with merely sporadic humanitarian aid. ASOCAB’s lawyers are trying to revoke the court’s decision that permitted the displacement.

Original source

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