Almost two years after police and military forces evicted the 123 families from the Las Pavas farm, and one month after the community returned to their land, Colombia’s highest court has ruled in favor of the community.
The ruling states that the eminent domain process initiated by National Institute for Rural Development (INCODER) in 2006 was legal and that the eviction of the families was illegal and therefore the land be returned to the families. The families started farming the land after then owner Jesus Emilion Escobar, said to be uncle of infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar abandoned the land in 1997. In 2003, Escobar returned to the land with armed men threatening the families with violence if they didn’t leave. In spite of the eminent domain process, Escobar sold the land to two palm companies which in July of 2009 evicted the families with the help of the national police.
The Constitutional Courts decision trumps all other lower court rulings that have gone against the families.
This is a wonderful victory for the Las Pavas community. Your continued thoughts and prayers are needed as the threat of violence against them continues. Just since January of this year, nine leaders of small farming communities involved in land claims have been killed by armed groups who oppose the land restitution plan of the government. It is uncertain how palm company Daabon will respond to the court’s decision and so we pray and hope for the Las Pavas. Thanks to all of you who responded to calls of action in their support.