by CPT Colombia
The Colombian government agency that grants private firearms licenses has revoked the license of palm oil company Aportes San Isidro, stripping the right of the corporation’s private guards to bear firearms.
The decision in August by the Superintendent of Vigilance and Private Security followed more than a year of public complaints from the Buenos Aires Farmers Association (ASOCAB), supported by civil society and members of Colombia’s Congress.
Since mid-2011, the community of Las Pavas has suffered many incidents of persecution and injury at the hands of Aportes San Isidro’s armed security, in an effort to harass them into leaving their land, which they reclaimed in 2011 after being driven off in 2006 and 2009.
The armed security personnel have killed the community’s animals, destroyed their food crops, torn their huts down, shot at them and attacked them with machetes. The violence actually increased in proportion to legal decisions in the community’s favor.
The license revocation is a positive step in guaranteeing the community’s safety, freedom of movement and right to a livelihood, but the record of police ineffectiveness in enforcing legal rulings and protecting peasants’ rights calls for ongoing prayer, solidarity and vigilance.