Since their return to the land on April 4th 2011 the community of Las Pavas has suffered dozens of attacks and threats from employees of oil palm company Aportes San Isidro (ASI). These threats have involved burning of homes, theft of fence materials, gunshots fired at community members and continual verbal harassment. Earlier this week the Las Pavas community sent out a denouncement of the most recent threats and attacks made by ASI workers which include threats to rape adolescent daughters of Las Pavas families.
On April 4th 2011, the Las Pavas families returned to the land with the backing of a Constitutional Court decision overturning the July 14, 2009 eviction. The decision also ordered that the imminent domain investigation conducted by Colombian Institute for Rural Development (Instituto Colombiano para el Desarrollo Rural – INCODER) which was petitioned by the Las Pavas families continue. In November of 2012 INCODER concluded the investigation and declared that ASI, the oil palm company who had claimed ownership of the land, had no rights to the land and that INCODER would title it to the Las Pavas farmers.
Aportes San Isidro’s has appealed INCODER’s decision putting it on hold. Las Pavas farmers and ASI workers continue living side by side on the land. ASI’s manager Mario Marmol and contracted armed guards continue to threaten the Las Pavas farmers. They have also caused thousands of dollars in material damage stealing barbed wire, burning homes and destroying crops. The following is Las Pavas’s statement.
THE FARMERS ASSOCIATION OF BUENOS AIRES – ASOCAB – condemns the criminal activities and acts of terrorism orchestrated against us by the company APORTES SAN ISIDRO S.A.S of whom we are victims, in the presence of the national and international community and Colombian authorities. These attacks have violated our right to life, our vital necessities, food security and our property at Las Pavas farm. Additionally, no effective action has been taken by the Mayor of the Municipality of El Peñon, the Attorney General’s Office and the National Police to guarantee our safety and the security of our property. These acts are forcing our community into a massive new forced displacement.
In clear disregard for various judicial and administrative decisions that have recognized our rights to the farm of Las Pavas the company APORTES SAN ISIDRO S.A.S has been implementing a strategy of intimidation and destruction of our property. These threats have intensified since the start of the year with the objective that we may no longer remain on our land. The following what we consider the most serious attacks:
- From January 10th of this year we have been continued victims of theft of the barbed wire around our fenced in plots. To date, MR. MARIO MARMOL MONTERO, a security employee and MR. CARLOS, head of security for APORTES SAN ISISDRO S.A.S. have stolen over 400 rolls of barbed wire worth about thirty-two million pesos (32,000,000) which does not include the cost of the labor involved in its installation. Since these resources were provided through donations and we cannot count on more money to repurchase these items, the harm caused to our community not only is priceless but irreparable.
- On January 16 while ALBEAR NARVAEZ and one of his daughters were standing at the entrance to the family farm they were approached by MR. MARIO MARMOL MONTERO who threatened them and ordered them to leave the land because he said, they did not have rights to the land; and that if he loved his daughters they should leave, and if he did not, he would rape his daughters. The three girls are under 14 years of age and must travel alone daily from Las Pavas to the town of Buenos Aires along the forested village path.
- On February 26 ASOCAB partner, MR. DULIS RAFAEL MARTINEZ’s crops were set on fire. He was immediately warned by his neighbors but by the time he arrived the fire had already spread and burnt half a hectare of his plantain cultivation. He also witnessed MR. MARIO MARMOL MONTERO and other members of APORTES SAN ISIDRO’s private security collecting all the barbed wire from his property.
- On February 27 while ASOCAB members were preparing the land with the community tractor for the planting of rice MR. CARLOS (Chief of Security), MR. MARIO MARMOL MONTERO, MR GREGORIO MARTINEZ and a few others who were driving another tractor (all palm workers for APORTES SAN ISIDRO S.A.S.) prevented them from working. They threatened them using weapons. They ordered them to leave work and stop the planting if they wanted to avoid ASOCAB members from being shot.
These recent acts are in addition to the countless acts of intimidation, threats and aggression that in the recent years the company APORTES SAN ISIDRO S.A.S has used in the attempt of stripping us of our land, violating our human rights, and especially violating us of a dignified life, food security, and the right to stay and own the land that we have acquired by the years of work we have put in on the Las Pavas farm.
Faced with this situation ASOCAB continues to respond in the only method it knows and understands — we are approaching the authorities and using the mechanisms provided for by the Constitution and the law. We are maintaining a peaceful life with a constant readiness to dialogue, to coexist and respect the rights of others, including our aggressors.
In order to avoid being subjected to a new forced displacement and to achieve a real guarantee of our human rights we call on the solidarity of national and international civil society. We ask the Colombian state to actually investigate our denunciation, and to impose exemplary sanctions on those responsible; we ask that the state take the necessary steps to restore our rights that have been violated, to repair the damages caused and to guarantee that these types of aggressions against us not be repeated.
THE FARMERS ASSOCIATION OF BUENOS AIRES – ASOCAB – Buenos Aires, Peñón, Bolívar, March 4, 2013
Originally published at Retorno a Las Pavas