Earlier this week INCODER, the government institution that oversees land titling and rural development forfeited the land away from Aportes San Isidro S.A., the palm oil company that had invaded the territories belonging to the community of Las Pavas. This decision is a significant step towards the rightful ownership of the land by the community. Read on for Las Pavas’ statement.
116 families celebrate! ASOCAB is respectful of the decision of INCODER.
We, the Farmers Association of Buenos Aires (ASOCAB), give thanks to God, in whom we believe. We also give thanks to all national and international organizations that have joined us in this process. We thank the churches, the Legal Clinic of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and all who have contributed, to show the world the reality of our case. Today we received a decision that responds to the truth. We also thank the Colombian Institutions in whom we continue to believe.
We have been waiting for this decision for a long time. It has been six years since we started this formal legal process and a lifetime in which we have resisted all kinds of violations. We have been displaced by force, illegally evicted and attacked. Our crops have been damaged and the wetlands that surround us have been polluted and dried out. We have been stigmatized for defending our rights to the point of being accused as terrorists. Our leaders have been persecuted and we have had to deal with direct and indirect death threats and assaults. Animals we use for subsistence have been killed, our homes and shelters have been destroyed and our roadways have been blocked – preventing our access to work and ability to move freely. Parallel organizations have been formed and used against us destroying our social fabric and countless more attacks, all in order to infringe upon our rights. Yet we continue to withstand because we are a community of great faith and hope – a fighting people, humble, honest and fair and we believe there is no evil that lasts a hundred years.
On November 14, 2012 INCODER resolved to forfeit three of the properties that were in question (Las Pavas, Si Dios Quiere, and Penaloza with a total of 1290 hectares) in compliance to the request of the Constitutional Court Decision T-267 of 2011. The ruling ordered INCODER to restart the the foreclosure process and clarify the ownership of the three properties that are part of the Las Pavas Estate.
We are very please and satisfied with INCODER’ decision in which we see the reflection of justice, something which we have previously been denied. Additionally, it means the legal and prompt restitution of the lands to which we have the right. On these lands we have earned our livelihoods and sustained our families for years. Today the land belongs to the Colombian government as a result of forfeiture based on the evidence gathered.
This is a historical decision because it once again gives Colombian farmers the opportunity to live on their land with peace, freedom, food sovereignty and autonomy. We therefore have hope that the journey ahead will be positive, and finally be able to obtain what we have called The Miracle of Las Pavas.
We call on the national and international community and all state agencies to endorse the decision of INCODER. We also ask that guarantees are provided and the rights acquired by our community be respected. We have requested the President of the Republic, the Human Rights Ombudsman, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Interior and Justice, the National Police, the Colombian Army, the Governor of Bolivar, the Mayor of El Peñon and especially the High Courts to provide sufficient and transparent support. Furthermore, we request guarantees for our lives and safety as we know of promises of retaliation against our community and leaders because of this decision.
In closing, we once again give thanks to God and ask him to grant the institutions wisdom as they continue to protect the rights of the people, especially the farmers – as we have been most harmed. This is the way to contribute to peace we Colombians desperately need.
Buenos Aires, El Peñón, Sur de Bolívar, November 16, 2012
This statement was originally published at Retorno a Las Pavas