COLOMBIA REFLECTION: Ancestry vs. legal title


13 July 2010
COLOMBIA REFLECTION: Ancestry vs. legal title
Alix Lozano
Once upon a time, a campesino community lived and farmed
near the village of Buenos Aires in El Peñon, Bolívar, Colombia. These men
and women, along with their families, occupied and worked the former estate
of Las Pavas beginning in 1995.  This land belonged to their indigenous
ancestors for hundreds of years, long before Europeans started issuing land
titles.  In 2009, the Colombian government, like the Spanish colonizers
before them, drove off the people with historic connections to the land.  The
riches that the current people in power seek come from a palm oil monocrop
that will later be used in beauty products for multinationals such as The
Body Shop.
In these lands of Las Pavas lie the ancestral spirits of the
campesinos’ lost community.  According to anthropologists, the indigenous
Malibués inhabited these lands for some four thousand years.  They mixed
with Spanish colonizers and African slaves, forming a tri-ethnic race:
Indian, black, and Europeans, whose descendants are today’s campesinos of the
area. The community has venerated and guarded the cemetery and their
indigenous ancestral lands, but now bulldozers, chainsaws, and oil palm have
destroyed them.  And the fate of Las Pavas lies in the hands of those who
twist the
truth and the law at the expense of these people’s

The elderly, men, women and children of this community pray
that in these times the Spirit will move in their favor, that it will move to
restore the community’s power to take possession of the land protected by
their ancestors, and that their ancestral indigenous and black histories
will inspire them all.  They pray that the intentions of the powerful
be transformed so that the multinationals will leave them in peace Lord God made the earth and its bounty for human beings to provide for
their families.



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