9 May 2011
COLOMBIA: High Court rules in favor of Las Pavas
Almost two years after police and military forces evicted
the 123 families from the Las Pavas farm, and one month after the community returned to their land,
Colombia’s highest court has ruled in favor of the community.
The ruling states that the eminent domain process initiated by National
Institute for Rural Development (INCODER) in 2006 was legal and that the eviction of the
families was illegal and therefore the land be returned to the families. The
families started farming the land after then owner Jesus Emilio Escobar, said to be uncle of infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar, abandoned the land in 1997. In 2003, Escobar
returned to the land with armed men threatening the families with violence if they didn’t
leave. In spite of the eminent domain process, Escobar sold the land to two palm
companies which in July of 2009 evicted the families with the help of the national
The Constitutional Court’s decision trumps all other lower court rulings that
have gone against the families.
While this is a crucial victory for the Las Pavas
community, the threat of violence continues. Since January of this year, nine leaders of
small farming communities involved in land claims have been killed by
armed groups who oppose the land restitution plan of the government. It
remains uncertain how palm company Daabon will respond to the court’s decision.
Members of CPT Colombia thank everyone who responded
to their calls of action in support of the families of Las Pavas, and ask for
continued prayers for the community.
For more history of the Las Pavas process see:
For a video of the return see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJQ1pufK80k&feature=player_embedded