Colombia: Land Rights Trampled

 

One cannot talk about the Colombian conflict without discussing the takeover of land by multinational corporations, both through governmental processes and through armed violence (see video at http://tinyurl.com/4aavfoe).

CPT has accompanied communities from the Agriculture and Mining Federation (FEDEAGROMISBOL) in the southern part of the department of Bolívar since 2005.

A human rights report released by the Federation in February underscores grave violations in Southern Bolívar, from increased assassinations, threats, and displacement of community leaders who oppose giving up their land for development of mega-projects.

The report names two companies in particular – AngloGold Ashanti in gold mining and Daabon Group in bio-fuels and palm oil – involved in pushing communities off the land and plundering the region’s natural resources, causing serious environmental damage and economic ruin to subsistence farmers and miners.

Many complaints in the report focus on stepped-up military activity in the area.  The army’s Nariño Battalion established a base that has contaminated a community’s water supply; soldiers restrict travel and accuse community members of collaborating with rebel guerillas; military commanders have acknowledged the practice of trad-ing guns for drugs which contributes to the social and moral decay of the communities.

The Federation’s leader, Teofilo Acuña, who was arrested for “rebellion” in 2007, was recently acquitted of all charges – a development that has strengthened the work and commitment of Federation members in their struggle to remain on the land and maintain sustainable livelihoods.  They ask for national and international solidarity with their demand that the authorities respect their communities and their fundamental rights.  See full report in Spanish at http://tinyurl.com/4u7q76c.