6 December 2011
COLOMBIA: Las Pavas: Another Miracle Urgently Required
CPT has been accompanying the community of Las Pavas in southern Bolivar since 123 families were displaced from their land in 2009 by state security forces. Last April, CPT joined in celebrating what has been called “The Miracle of Las Pavas” when the families, with the support of many national and international allies, defied threats of violence and returned to their land. Their prospects of obtaining official titles to those lands looked good. All of that is now in jeopardy.
On the 30th of November the Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office accused Las Pavas farmers of having lied about being displaced and that their claims for restitution were unjustified. The Office called for a reinvestigation of the case on the assumption of “false victims” and also a probe into the organizations that have supported the community through the process.
The community of Las Pavas was initially displaced in 2006 by paramilitaries and later in 2009 evicted off the land by state security forces at the request of the consortium Labrador (a palm oil company comprised of Aportes San Isidro and Daabon). Labrador had obtained title to the land after having purchased it from Jesús Emilio Escobar Fernández. However, earlier this year the Constitutional Court determined that Jesús Emilio Escobar Fernández may have forfeited his title to these lands by failing to cultivate them for an extended period of time, thereby making its sale to the consortium Labrador illegal. They ordered the Colombian Institute for Rural Development (INCODER) to look into the matter. Doing so would not only have deemed the sale of the land illegal; it would also have legitimized Las Pavas community’s claim to land titles under the right of possession after having occupied and cultivated it for a period more than five years. None of that happened. Instead the state, which had recognized and assisted the community of Las Pavas when they were displaced in 2006, now denies that the community has ever lived there. It now claims the community is lying about its former occupation and displacement from these lands, and may once again resort to using state security forces to remove them.
CPT Colombia is grateful to all who have supported the Las Pavas community throughout the process of the past two years, and specifically those who participated in the Body Shop Campaign to bring about international awareness about the connection between commerce and displacement in Colombia. During this time of uncertainty, the team asks for prayers and support once again in order to confront the state’s delegitimizing of the trauma, violence and displacement already experienced by the community and the harassment of local and international organizations that have acted as their allies.
CPT Colombia asks that you:
- Pray for the community of Las Pavas, not only for their well being but also for their safety.
- Pray that truth will emerge, and that justice will be done.
- Pray for the representatives, lawyers and activists who are under a lot of stress.
- Pray that peace and nonviolence will prevail.
Prayers, words of affirmation, and support to the community can be sent to CPT Colombia at email@example.com and the team will deliver them. The people of Las Pavas would be reassured to know that their national and international allies continue to stand by them.