COLOMBIA: Palm oil company attacks and intimidates Las Pavas community members

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CPTnet
5 April 2015
COLOMBIA: Palm oil company attacks and intimidates Las
Pavas community members

Burned house and kitchen | Photo: Marian DeCouto

Palm oil company Aportes San Isidro continues to harass and
threaten the community of Las Pavas in 2016. 
The farming community’s association ASOCAB continues to denounce these
aggressions to no avail.  Even though judicial and administrative decisions
have appeared to favour the community, the reality on the ground remains the
same.  For this reason ASOCAB has published a public complaint against the
company regarding the most recent events in hopes that the authorities will put
an end to the impunity.

ASOCAB demands that the government “investigate and sanction
those responsible, both the owner as well as the security guards, who are
blatantly violating our fundamental rights and liberties.”  The community
also asks that the government to guarantee their safety and to follow through
with the allocation and titling of the Las Pavas land that the National
Institute of Rural Development (INCODER) has deemed state land.

 A summary of the most recent incidents is as follows:

  1. Aportes
    San Isidro offered Demostenes Miranda Cuy housing and money for
    agricultural projects throughout October and November 2015 with promises
    that he and his family would no longer be harassed.  On 24 November
    Miranda went to El Banco, Magdalena to sign the lease agreement.
     Upon arrival, Wilmar Martinez, a palm company employee, told Miranda
    that he must “go now to Barranquilla; the safety of you and your family
    depends on it.”  He was then taken to Barranquilla to the Aportes San
    Isidro office and forced to memorize a declaration that he would make
    against ASOCAB.  On 27 November José Ernesto Macias, the company’s
    owner and legal representative, interviewed Miranda on tape forcing him to
    declare that he had gone to Barranquilla voluntarily, that the Las Pavas
    community had never been forcibly displaced, that ASOCAB had invented the
    story of the displacement, that Emilio Escobar had never abandoned the
    land, that he had given the land over to the community to farm but no one
    had wanted to so he sold it to the palm company.
  2. In the
    evening of 8 March 2016 the house where Demostenes Miranda Cuy and his
    family used to live was torched.  Some ASOCAB members declare that
    “they have seen palm company workers hanging around that house and camping
    out there after Demostenes and his family were displaced for fear of
    repercussions” after Miranda denounced the acts against him by the palm
    company and the direct involvement of Jose Macias, the legal representative
    of Aportes San Isidro.  On 18 March
    2016 the company burned the rest of the house that remained, to serve as a
    clear warning and threat to the community for Miranda having recanted.
  3. On 13 February
    2016 the community took photos and videos of Mario Marmol and another palm
    company employee who were gesturing and aiming firearms with scopes at the
    community encampment in order to terrorize and create fear.
  4. On 14 February
    2016 while in the village of Buenos Aires, ASOCAB member, Alejandro Guzman
    was attacked by Tabis Martinez Redondo who began punching him.  Other
    members of the community came to intervene when the aggressor’s brothers
    arrived and began to beat the other community members.  One of these
    brothers, Gregorio Martinez Redondo, who is allegedly a demobilized
    paramilitary from the region, pulled out a gun and threatened all those
    present.
  5. On 4 March
    2016 while working on his farm, Pedro Martinez was approached by three
    unknown youth who informed him that, “he could no longer farm on his land,
    and that it would be better if he left.” They said that they worked for
    the company and did not live in the region. Since the incident, Martinez
    and his family have been fled the region, leaving their farm and animals
    unattended.
  6. Taking
    advantage of the extensive dry season, Aportes San Isidro security have
    set fire to scarce community food crops and the little pasture that
    remains.

CPT has worked with the faithful people of Las Pavas since 2009. Click here to keep us working alongside them

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