8 March 2011
COLOMBIA: ACVC is legally recognized as Small Farmers
Nearly 250 farmers along with delegates from human rights
and accompaniment NGOs working in the Magdalena Medio, donor agencies, and the
director of INCODER, among others, met in Puerto Maltilde on 16 February 2011
to witness the act of institutional recognition.
Participants in the event planted trees as a tribute to the
victims who belonged to the Small Farmers Reserve Zone in the Cimitarra Valley
(ZRC). Miguel Cifuentes, director of The Small Farmers Association of the
Cimitarra Valley (Asociación de Campesina del Valle del Cimitarra, ACVC) said,
“It is very important that the farming sector be revived in the Small
Farmers Reserve Zone because it would commit the Central Government to
developing productive projects for farmers, who, in one way or another, have
already established a development plan.”
Since taking office six months ago, Juan Manuel Santos has shown
he intends to shake up the country’s agricultural policy. To achieve this objective, he has
proposed restoring two million hectares seized by illegal armed groups to their
rightful owners and reviving the so-called Small Farmers Reserve Zone.
In implementing this policy, the director of Incoder, Juan
Manuel Ospina, intends to give legal recognition to the Small Farmers Reserve
Zone in the Cimitarra Valley, which covers the territory of the municipalities
of Yondó and Remedios in the Antioquia department, along with the Cantagallo
and San Pablo in the Bolívar department. This area is 184,000 hectares and benefits 8,935 families.
The concept of the ZRC was born in 1996 with the government
of Ernesto Samper, as a way to avoid agricultural oligarchy. The previous government ignored the ZRC,
and the case of the Valley Cimitarra was suspended on April 10, 2003, by
Resolution No. 046. This suspension
led to the creation of The Small Farmers Association of the Cimitarra Valley,
an association that won the Nation Peace Prize on 24 November 2010.
Juan Manuel Ospina Restrepo commented, “The revival of
this area is part of the Integrated Rural Development Strategy of INCODER which
began its project in the Montes de Maria with the creation of two ZRCs, and
will continue throughout the country. They are reviving three areas in the departments of Meta,
Norte de Santander and Magdalena.”
For members of this Reserve Zone, the revival recognizes the
need to stabilize their communities, to encourage the ownership of small rural
property, and to prevent the breakdown of its economy. It prevents unfair
concentration of ownership and helps overcome the causes of social conflicts
affecting the Colombian countryside.
Regarding the process of returning land, according to the
President of the Republic, Juan Manuel Santos, and the government has achieved
the transfer of titles for about 220 thousand hectares of the 312,000 that will
return to their owners before April.