COLOMBIA: Las Pavas farmers suffer threats, assaults after small victory

CPTnet
10 October 2012
COLOMBIA: Las Pavas farmers suffer threats, assaults after small victory

Colombia’s rural land agency has announced that the 119 families intermittently farming and displaced from parts of the Las Pavas estate should be given titles to portions of the estate.

On 27 September 2012 Miriam Villegas, Director of the Colombian Institute for Rural Development (INCODER) announced that eleven of Las Pavas’ over one hundred plots of land belong to the state, and that ten of these should be titled to families.

 
 Las Pavas Song video

This small victory for the community comes at a time of many threats. In mid-July 2012, the palm company Aportes San Isidro, responsible for having illegally evicted the Las Pavas families in 2009, brought approximately 150 workers to plant palm on lands under investigation by INCODER. INCODER called the palm planting a violation of the administrative process. Employees of the company, including its lawyer, Danilo Palacios, threatened and physically attacks on community members and guests. Firearms are increasingly visible, and a new armed security company also named Aportes San Isidro patrols the land. (See machine translated article.) The Las Pavas community’s attorney made the following denouncements.

29 September 2012 

Today, 29 September 2012, at 10:30 a.m., Mr. Danilo Palacios Benitez, Mr. Mario Montero Marble and another heavily armed man of unknown identity, went where two young members of ASOCAB were preparing land for planting and uttered verbal threats and profanity and demanded they stop working. When the two farmers refused, one of the armed men rushed towards them, pushed them and threatened to hit them in the face with the butt of his gun. All the while Mr. Mario Marble kept his gun aimed at them. Seeing that the young men did not back down, the armed men left, saying they would not allow anyone to sow again and, if they did there would be consequences.

1 October 2012 

Again the rights of the community of the Peasant Association of Buenos Aires (ASOCAB), rightful claimants of the Las Pavas farm, have been threatened by oil palm company Aportes San Isidro, persistent in its aggressive attacks against the lives and property of this rural community affected by the conflict.

 
 

One of six farmhouses destroyed days after
a government decision approving land titles.

Sunday morning while going to their plots to work, they found six homes completely destroyed. These homes were ready to be occupied by families who are part of the return process of the Las Pavas farm under investigation by INCODER.

The farming community has no doubt that these attacks were carried out by palm company personnel, who days earlier had threatened to destroy everything ASOCAB built, in addition to destroying their crops and fences, attacking them and threatening them with death.

A ten-day site visit by INCODER starting October 10 will gather information for the adjudication of some of the remaining plots of land claimed by the families. Pray that justice will prevail and that, as with the ten adjudicated plots, the remaining plots will be recognized as state land that should be titled to the families for sustainable use. Pray also for authorities to prevent further attacks on the community by Aportes San Isidro employees.

Colombia team blog