Translator: Deryn Collins, CSN Volunteer Translator
Editor: Susan Tritten, CSN Volunteer Editor
Nobody would argue the justice in compensating victims and restoring their estates. It is the obligation of the State, in accord with international treaties and the T025 2004 ruling of the Constitutional Court. If Colombia didn’t pay sufficient attention to the victims, it would be perceived as inferior to Rwanda or South Africa in the international arena. Given the above, saying that the repatriation policy initiatives are ‘revolutionary,’ except in satirical political comments, is to seek immunity from any possible criticism of their deficiencies. The response given to Senator Jorge Robledo, Daniel Samper and Maria Teresa Ronderos, (who all demanded, from the Ministry of Agriculture, clarification on data and the real extent of restitution,) as well as the contention that turned into the entanglement that Juan Camilo Restrepo recently diffused, affirm that formalization, such as that on the Las Catas hacienda, is quite distinct from restitution.
The goal to restore 2,100 properties in 2012 is insufficient, given that this would be no more than 0.6% of the total, and, at that rate, it would take 50 years to restore the 350,000 properties. Furthermore, the original calculation of 4 million hectares that were taken was, magically, halved. The ministerial calculation is far too optimistic, if you take into account that each one of the 134 special judicial decisions, using a simple mathematical average, would come to 2,611 cases, or one per day during the 10 years that the law is in effect. This would be typical demagoguery. This is without even contemplating the cases contested by good faith holders that would be brought before district judges. Official calculations estimate sixty thousand possible lawsuits, which would mean 100 cases per year for each of the 60 courts. This means that the regulatory decrees might leave proof of the victims’ possession in the hands of the State, disregarding the shift of the burden [of proof] by the “secondary occupant,” undermining legitimate owners, and violating the Pinheiro Principles of the United Nations manual, which could end up consolidating a counter-agrarian reform.
Studies by Ibanez indicate that 50% of the displaced would not return and with the passage of time, this percentage could be less and, and less still, if merciless suppression is what awaits them. With this prospect, the new land distribution, with altered land registries, could be even more unjust.
This happened with the division of land between 1926 and 1940, when just 2% of the owners were protected, or in the colonization of Antioquia when just 17% went to the settlers, which Alejandro Lopez called ‘the struggle between the settlers and the bureaucracy.’
Title: Santos’ Agricultural Revolution: Much Ado About Nothing?
Author: Aurelio Suarez Montoya
Date Published: 02/07/2012
(This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.)