The taste of social injustice, especially when committed by the State, is bitter. The feeling of impotence is overpowering.
On Wednesday 13 December, local government and police forces engineered a coup in the rural communities of El Guayabo and Bella Unión, in the Colombian department of Santander. About one hundred policemen, half of them from the riot control unit, successfully evicted 9 peasant families from their land (affecting at least 40 people). These farmers now face a humanitarian crisis due to loss of their livelihoods.
The fight over the land goes back to 2002, when the present land claimant, son of the original landowner, sent paramilitaries to forcefully displace the occupiers who were exercising their right of possession over land abandoned by his father decades earlier (1994 Law 160 stipulates the conditions for the legal acquisition of abandoned land: more than a couple of years of abandonment by the owner and the productive use of the land by the new occupiers).
While the two communities managed to resist this paramilitary incursion, which later granted them the status of victims of the armed conflict by the State, the farmers have been confronted with threats, physical aggressions, destruction of private property and attempts at criminalization ever since (see one of my first blog articles on the criminalization of social leaders). Numerous complaints against the land claimant were filed, but no legal investigation was ever opened.
Like the first eviction attempt in 2013, led by a police inspector who was later arrested due to his uncovered links with paramilitaries, the eviction that occurred a few days ago was equally fraught with procedural irregularities. Here is an account of what happened that day… Colombian State fails victims of the armed conflict as farmer evictions continue weiterlesen