Search

 

Cablegate: Update On Jiguamiando and Curvarado Land Dispute

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #2291/01 1762149
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 242149Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3323
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8259
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0605
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN 9517
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 6293
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 1910
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6959
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4469

C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 002291

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/20/2028
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL ECON SOCI CO
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON JIGUAMIANDO AND CURVARADO LAND DISPUTE

REF: A. BOGOTA 239
B. BOGOTA 3855

Classified By: Political Counselor John S. Creamer.
Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d).


SUMMARY
-------
1. (U) Legal, bureaucratic, and security issues--exacerbated
by resistance from local palm oil interests and divisions
within the displaced communities--continue to delay the
return of the displaced Jiguamiando and Curvarado communities
to their land. Interior and Justice Vice Minister Isabel
Nieto Jaramillo told us three steps need to be completed
before the displaced communities can return to their land: 1)
the Superintendent of Notarization and Registration must
complete three resolutions revoking the titles of palm oil
companies; 2) the Ministry of Interior and Justice (MOIJ)
must obtain an extraordinary legal order (Restitution Action)
authorizing the security forces to remove the illegal
occupiers and, 3) the GOC needs to complete a census to
determine who are the rightful members of the communities.
End Summary.

WHAT HAPPENED?
----------
2. (U) Legal, bureaucratic, and security
obstacles--exacerbated by resistance from local economic
interests and divisions within displaced
communities--continue to delay the return of the displaced
Jiguamiando and Curvarado communities to their land, which
remains illegally occupied by palm oil companies. Special
Advisor in the Ministry of Agriculture Lorena Garnica told us
that after years of legal battles with the palm oil
companies, MinAg delineated the land that belonged to the
communities in resolutions 2159 and 2424 which were issued in
September 2007. She said even though the MinAg resolutions
provide the legal basis for the communities to return to the
land, the process to void the illegal occupiers' titles, as
well as the legal process to remove the current occupiers,
still need to be addressed.

SORTING OUT LAND TITLES
-----------------------
3. (U) The Superintendent of Notarization and Registration
completed two of the five resolutions that revoke the
illegally obtained land titles from the occupiers. Two of
the three remaining resolutions are only pending notification
of the parties; the third may be delayed due to an appeal.
Vice Minister Nieto told us the Ministry will proceed with
the land restitution in the areas where the resolutions are
complete. She expected all but one titling resolution to be
resolved by the end of June 2008.

KICKING OUT THE ILLEGAL OCCUPIERS
--------------------------------
4. (U) Garnica said to legally remove the illegal occupiers
from the land one of two processes were needed--either the
local courts in Jiguamiando and Curvarado could resolve the
issue (which would take about 8-10 years), or the Police
Inspectors' office in Carmen del Darien (IPCD) could require
the occupiers to leave. The GOC ruled out the former option
due to the lengthy timeline, as well as concerns that local
palm oil farmers would pressure the courts. The second
option was derailed when the IPCD rejected a request by the
Inter-ecclesiastic Commission for Justice and Peace to remove
the occupiers for "restitution due to occupation." This type
of legal request must be made by the legal owners within one
year of the illegal occupation. In this case, over eleven
years have passed since the palm oil firms occupied the land.

5. (C) With the local avenues for resolution of the dispute
eliminated, Nieto told us the MOIJ will seek a extraordinary
legal order (Restitution Action) before the end of June that
would allow the security forces to remove the illegal
occupiers. She told us if this did not work, the MIOJ would
move forward through criminal law. Nieto acknowledged that
if they followed the normal legal procedure to remove the
illegal occupiers, they would have to wait for the local
courts which could take up to 10 more years. She also noted
that in many regions, strong economic interests manipulate
local institutions to delay resolution of land claims for
years.

WHO IS REALLY PART OF THE COMMUNITY?
-----------------------------------
6. (U) MIOJ field advisor Camilo Lopez told us divisions
among the displaced over who belongs to the communities
further complicate the return effort. The region has seen
various displacements over the last twenty years, leading to
competing claims. Lopez claims Justice and Peace's attempt
to impose an ideological agenda on the communities has
deepened these divisions. On June 5 2008, Nieto agreed with
officials from the Presidential Human Rights Office, MinAg,
MinEnvi, MOD, CNP, Accion Social, and the Governors' Offices
of Choco and Antioquia to conduct a census to determine who
are the true members of the communities. They plan to
consult with the communities starting June 23 on how to
conduct the census. They envision using self-identification
together with a peer-verification process. Nieto said the
census will take three months, but claimed the delay will
resolve conflicts before the land is returned. The census
will also give the GOC data on who qualifies for development,
health and educational assistance.

TRANSITION PERIOD CREATES CONFLICT
-------------------------------
7. (C) Three representatives from the Inter-ecclesiastic
Commission for Justice and Peace and five Curvarado and
Jiguamiando community members reviewed their concerns about
the land restitution process with us on May 17. Several
members participated in an altercation with police on May 17
inCurvarado. They claimed the local police were working
with the palm oil firms and the "paramilitaries," and used
excessive force to remove them from contested lands. The
police told us they responded to a complaint from a cattle
owner who said community members had penned in his cattle
without food or water. When the police arrived, they verified
the owner's complaints and freed the cattle. The community
members claimed that in "self defense," one protester injured
a police officer with a machete. They say the cattle were
eating their crops. The police temporarily detained two
Justice and Peace members, together with the community member
who injured the police officer.

8. (C) The altercation shows how the failure to resolve land
disputes in a timely manner and through legal means can lead
to violence. Justice and Peace has provided legal
representation to the communities, but one member of Justice
and Peace told us that if the GOC did not return the land
soon, they would be, "left with no choice but to support the
communities' desire to take the lands back by whatever means
necessary". MOIJ Lopez told us other community members
accused Justice and Peace of bringing in "outsiders" to take
back lands that never belonged to them, noting that many were
not Afro-Colombian. Nieto and Garnica confirmed these
complaints, which led them to support the census. They
asserted that the primary fissure within the communities is
between Justice and Peace-supporters and their opponents.

9. (C) Colombian National Police (CNP) International Office
Director Colonel Buitrago tells us the CNP will continue to
augment the number of police in the area to address the
conflict, and noted the police will be the lead security
organization in this effort. Currently, police presence is
limited; the nearest police station is located fifteen miles
to the north in Bajira and transportation is difficult.
Buitrago says the CNP's "hands are tied" until the final
legal issues are resolved. Ministry of Defense Human Rights
Director Colonel Juan Carlos Gomez Ramirez tells us the
military are ready to "support the police" as needed.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE PALM OIL PLANTATIONS?
------------------------------------------
10. (U) MinAg Advisor Jose Leonidas Tobon will lead the
agricultural development projects in the Curvarado and
Jiguamiando areas. He claimed that about 80% of the
community members he has met with were interested in
continuing the cultivation of palm oil after the companies
leave. Leonidas fears that over 50% of the palm oil trees
are already diseased, and that if they are left unattended
for much longer, the communities will lose an important
source of future earnings. In contrast, Justice and Peace
tells us the majority of the community members refuse to
continue the production of palm oil. Other community members
lament that they would have to sell their product to the same
companies that usurped their land and used violence against
their families. Leonidas tells us they will provide
technical assistance to any community interested in palm oil
production.
BROWNFIELD

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: