Colombia: A Dispossessed and Imprisoned Country

Translated by: Leo Torres, a CSN volunteer translator

Edited by: Bethany Canales, a CSN volunteer editor and Nora Walker, a CSN intern

Due to the violent dispossession of more than 10 million hectares or property, lands and territories by the State, paramilitary groups and corporations from farmers, Afro-Colombian communities, indigenous people and settlers, we the Movement of Victims of State-Sponsored Crimes, MOVICE, denounce the forced displacement of over 5 million people by an agrarian counter-reform strategy, which establishes a new process for land accumulation, consolidation and asymmetry over land ownership with deepening social, political and military conflict for over 60 years, which has sown pain, misery and death in our country.

Currently 0.4% of property holders own more than 60% of the land, while 57% of the people hold less than 2%. Even worse, out of the 114 million hectares in Colombia, the Colombian government has granted 39 million hectares to multinational mining companies. This situation will not change with the Victims Law, as mining and agro-fuels companies are shielded by the “surface right” and “use agreement” for future legal disputes, to the detriment of the entire recovery process of usurped land.

This is all due to the persistent stripping of the rights to lands and territories and to the law concerning Victims and Land Restitution, which promotes impunity benefiting land-grabbers, since this law does not include patrimonial restitution nor does it affect multinationals’ interests. Out of 160,000 land restitutions slated under the National Development Plan during President Santos’ four-year term, only 11,000 will be completed in 2012. At the completion of the “Emergency Plan”, only 1,005 hectares had actually been returned, proof that in Colombia we are witnessing a distorted model of land restitution. Therefore, MOVICE believes that this law does not fully resolve the situation, specifically regarding this country’s displacements, and it prevents the fulfillment of the decision T025 of the Constitutional Court.

We denounce the persistence of serious human rights violations and lack of protection for those who dare to claim their right to restitution for their lands and territories, and who are repeatedly persecuted, criminalized, disappeared or killed, as has happened with MOVICE members. The maintenance of the paramilitary structures and their collusion with the military, police, and the political and business sectors in various regions of the country (consolidating the power of the para-politic system) provides evidence of the ongoing “democratic security” that criminalizes the social protest, turning the country into an imprisoned land. Today, there are over 8,000 political prisoners in the terrifying jails of the Colombian regime.

We reaffirm the just right to rebel against tyranny and to resist injustice, misery and oppression. We reject, therefore, the way the Colombian State has moved towards suppression a of political demonstration and anything connected with it, identifying it as “terrorism.” We denounce the State of Colombia for not taking the corrective measures ordered by the Constitutional Court declaring that the Colombian penitentiary system violated, in a massive and structural way, the fundamental rights of persons deprived of liberty, defining the situation as a State of unconstitutional affairs (Case T-153, 1998).

Colombian prisons lack adequate infrastructure, are in disrepair, are overcrowded, and lack rehabilitation programs (which are majorly deficient where they do exist). To require a person unjustly imprisoned to spend much of his/her live in conditions that threaten his/her dignity, not only constitutes a violation of the most fundamental rights of persons deprived of liberty in these facilities, but also puts doubt in the legitimacy of the penitentiary system. We have our demands for the “National and International Coalition for the fair treatment and freedom of political prisoners”.

We demand immediate release for political prisoners, prisoners of war, and victims of political setups, who are now in imprisoned inside and outside of the country.

We are calling on international organizations to request that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment visit Colombia to verify the grave humanitarian crisis that Colombian prisons are experiencing today.

We call upon the media to exercise the right of free press, and to watch over the good name and due process of political prisoners in Colombia. The media should play a fair role and not become a sounding board for setups constructed by the establishment against political and social leaders, condemning them without due process.

Finally, we call on the international community for solidarity in resistance of the indignities of territorial dispossession and inhumane imprisonment in Colombia, practices which are supported by governments and multinational corporations. Together we can pave the road to a political solution to the conflict in Colombia.

For the dignity and freedom of political prisoners of Colombia…

We are the seed, we are the memory, we are the sun that rises against impunity, we are the Movement of Victims of State-Sponsored Crimes.


Author:  MOVICE, Movimiento de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado

Location: None Provided

Date Published: March 6, 2012

Source: MOVICE



(This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.)

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