COLOMBIA: 116 families celebrate! Farmers pleased with government decision

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CPTnet
26 November 2012 
COLOMBIA: 116 families celebrate! Farmers pleased with government decision

The Buenos Aires Farmers Association, accompanied by Christian Peacemaker Teams since 2009, released the following statement after Colombia’s rural land authority announced on 14 November that it would expropriate the entire estate
of Las Pavas from oil palm grower Aportes San Isidro.

See related CPTnet release.

 
  “We keep walking forward together in faith for the right
to land and life with dignity.” (CPT photo, April 2012)

We,
the Buenos Aires Farmers Association (ASOCAB), offer our thanks to God, in whom
we have believed, as well as all the national and international organizations
that have joined us in this process, the churches, the Legal Clinic of
Javeriana University and all who have contributed to making the truth of our
case known to the world. Today we received a decision that responds to that
truth. We also thank the Colombian government agencies because we continue to
believe in them.

That
is why we have waited so long: six years since we started this legal process,
and a lifetime of resisting all kinds of abuses: forced displacement, illegal
evictions, proxy attacks, damage to our crops, contamination and drainage of
nearby wetlands, stigmatization for defending our rights to the point of being
called terrorists, persecution of our leaders, direct and indirect death
threats, physical assaults, killing of our livestock, destruction of our homes
and shelters, closure of our roadways, preventing our access to work and freedom
of movement, creation of parallel social organizations to destroy our social
fabric and countless other aggressions, all in an attempt to deny our rights. Yet
we have withstood it all because we are a community of great faith and hope,
made up of struggling, humble, simple, honest people committed to the common
welfare who believe that there is no evil that lasts a hundred years.

On
November
14, 2012 INCODER resolved to proceed
with the forfeiture of the three properties in question (Las Pavas, Si Dios
Quiere, and Peñaloza, with a total of 1290 hectares) in compliance with Constitutional
Court Decision T-267 of 2011. That ruling ordered INCODER to restart the forfeiture
process and clarify the ownership of the three properties that are part of the
Las Pavas Estate.

We
are very pleased and satisfied with INCODER’s decision. We see it as reflecting
the justice previously denied us, and as an opportunity for the legal and
prompt restitution of lands to which we have rights and from which we have
earned our livelihoods and sustained our families for many years. Today the
land belongs to the Colombian government as a result of the forfeiture based on the evidence gathered.

This
historic decision once again gives Colombian farmers the opportunity to live on
their land with peace, freedom, food sovereignty and autonomy. We therefore
have hope that the journey ahead will be positive, and that we may finally obtain
what we have called The
Miracle of Las Pavas.

We
call on the national and international community and all state agencies to uphold
the decision of INCODER and to assure that the rights acquired by our community
are respected. We therefore ask the Colombian President, the Human Rights
Ombudsman, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Interior
and Justice Ministries, the National Police, the Colombian Army, Bolivar State
government, the Mayor of El Peñon and especially the High Courts to
provide sufficient and transparent support. Furthermore, being aware of
promised retaliation against our community and its leaders because of this
decision, we request measures to protect our lives and safety.

In
closing, we once again give thanks to God and ask God to grant wisdom to the institutions
as they continue to protect the rights of people, especially farmers, who have
been most harmed, since that is what will contribute to the peace we Colombians
so desperately need.

Buenos Aires, El Peñón, Southern Bolívar
province, Colombia, November 16, 2012

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