(Translated by Colin Kluender, CSN Volunteer Translator)
IPC Press Agency (Colombia), October 6, 2017
In this region there are more than 7,000 reclamation processes registered before the Land Restitution Unit. The majority of farmers were stripped of their property in the midst of paramilitary violence, mainly between 1996 and 1998, during the reign of former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez.
Five years have passed since the government of Juan Manuel Santos began the process of land restitution in Urabá, Antioquia, and today the region’s farmers are getting sick, dying of old age without their property ever having been returned.
Editor’s note: The following video is embedded within the original article (https://youtu.be/uNa54u7EQvI)
“You sell or the widow sells,” was the intimidating phrase with which thousands of farmers ended up selling their properties, forced into laughable prices amid massacres, clashes, forced disappearances, and aggressions both physical and psychological, all for which the [paramilitary] United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia were largely responsible.
What the victims are asking for is speed in the process, as well as guarantees of reclamation and return, should they benefit, as much of the opposition continues to use paramilitary groups in order to impede the restitution process.
In areas such as Macondo, Blanquicet, Villa Eugenia, Guacamayas, and, in general, in the territory of the La Larga Tumaradó Community Council, returning claimants have been victims of homicides, threats, physical attacks, thefts, and house burnings by paramilitary groups serving entrepreneurs and landowners.
This happens even though claimants are protected in the territory by precautionary measures announced in decree 00181 of 2014, issued by Quibdó’s First Court of Land Restitution.
The question is: For the victims in Urabá, and in Colombia overall, what about reparations, and the guarantees that this won’t happen again?