Las Pavas

Damn Tree: a reflection about Colombian Oil Palm Trees

palm tree pic 2The cycle of life has been reversed. Trees defeat the earth. I do not like to say your name, Oil Palm. Scents of gunpowder and pictures of distressed mothers because of a damn tree. When I first heard your name and learned how your fruit could be squeezed and the juice used as a replacement for petroleum oil, I rushed to interrupt my teacher. “How can we bring this tree to Kurdistan”, I wondered. I wanted the response to be that we could import this miraculous tree to our country. I wanted this to be a substitute for oil so that all warfare, extermination and destruction over the black substance will not happen to humankind ever again. But, alas, all my dreams and imaginations were destroyed when I perceived that this tree caused just as much destruction. This damn tree sent thousands of Colombian families to become fugitives from their homes. Thousands of families have become paid workers in their own fields with a low income.

I became reasonably depressed when I heard a story of a widow with her son. They were working in the heat for three months, planting, tending and harvesting their corn. All their efforts were fruitless and wasted-someone set the pile of corn on fire and the products were burned. They were left with nothing to feed the children. I heard her say, “Take as many pictures as you can, take photos of everything here so that the whole world will know of what happened to us”. War and oppression pivots around corrupt governments and capitalism. The core point is that the capitalists get a lot of money and they become rich and richer, while on the contrary the workers and needy people remain poor and more disappointed.


Parwen Aziz is a Kurdish woman living in Iraqi Kurdistan. She is currently a trainee in the first CPT training in Iraqi Kurdistan. She knows firsthand the effects of governments exploiting villagers in the quest  for oil revenue. She wrote this reflection after participating in  a role play depicting the consequences for Colombian farmers when large corporations take their traditional farm land to plant oil palms, which can produce alternative fuel sources for automobiles.


Originally published at Voices from Iraqi Kurdistan

About CPT Colombia

CPT (Christian Peacemaker Teams) Colombia is an International organization seeking to be allies for and partner with communities who are threatened with displacement and violence. We try to support their initiatives to promote justice and peace and their resistance to attempts by those who oppress them and seek to dispossess them of their land, culture and livelihoods.


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