On wednesday morning, gathered under two large trees, Jhenifer Mojica, INCODER’s Deputy Director of Rural Land (The Colombian Land Institute) returned sixty four titles to members of the community of Garzal. “Your unity has been exemplary to all of us” she said, “Garzal is an emblematic case, one of the sixteen hand picked by President Santos that would receive immediate attention.”
In 2003 the community was defrauded by INCODER under a technical guise. A representative of the institute, unofficially collected their original titles claiming that the paperwork was under revision of a legal procedure, while assuring them that the titles would be returned to them soon after the minor adjustment was made. The sixty-four families never got their titles back but were instead accused of illegally occupying land that belonged to the late Manuel Enrique Barreto. In 1989 Barreto fled the region when his farm, a drug laboratory was raided by officials as part of an operation against the Medellin Cartel leader Pablo Escobar. By late 2003 three he returned to the area with the support of the Central Bolivar Block of the AUC. When he returned he brought fraudulent titles laying claim to the land and violently threatening to displace the families.
The sixty four titles is a fourth of the total titles that hopefully will be distributed to the rest of the community. INCODER will be spending the next two week surveying and mapping the water bodies that surround the communities of Garzal and Nueva Esperanza to complete the process. “Once we’re done with our current survey we hope to have titles ready for the rest of the community by the first quarter of next year” said Mojica.
The communities of Garzal and Nueva Esperanza have engaged in a legal process, with the support and solidarity of over a dozen national and international organizations have been persistently hopeful that this day would come.
A emotional and joyful Reverend Salvador speaking on behalf the community gave thanks, “what God promises, God fulfills.”