By Cristina de la Torre, EL ESPECTADOR, January 31, 2022


(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

This President received a country with the best possible Peace Agreement, and reduced indicators of violence, and he’s returning it at war. The cruel images of the communities besieged by armed groups and displaced in tens of thousands have started to fill our screens and the pages of the newspapers. Not to mention the hundreds of massacres, of social leaders and demobilized ex-combatants murdered, which the incredibly expensive Armed Forces do nothing to prevent, in spite of the pathetic loquacity of their commanders. Neither safety for the demobilized ex-combatants, nor a solution to the conflict over land that is feeding the war.

In an unprecedented decision, the Constitutional Court arraigns the administration for “massive violation of the Peace Agreement” and orders it to comply with the Agreement in its entirety. The United Nations and the CIDH[1] join the clamor, while the FAO[2] is warning that Colombia is at imminent risk of food insecurity: entire populations have no access to food, among other reasons, because of the evasion of the rural reform agreed upon by the government in the Peace Agreement: distribution, formalization, and restitution of stolen property are toddling in diapers. Former Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo complains of “a gigantic deficiency in budgeting for implementation of what had been committed for the post-conflict”.

A corollary of this super-efficient apathy toward peace in the countryside, the silence of President Duque, of his administration, and of his Party before the scandal that touches one of its Directors, José Félix Lafaurie, the President of Fedegan,[3] for alleged complicity with paramilitaries who, in the ‘90’s, plundered 4,000 hectares in Urabá and Córdoba, and decapitated with chain saws anybody that tried to resist. In his confession of the truth before the JEP, the former manager of the Córdoba Livestock Fund, Benito Osorio connected Lafaurie with paramilitaries like Mancuso, and with Generals convicted of murder like Rito Alejo del Río. Osorio was sentenced to prison for expropriation of land in association with the paramilitaries.

But the case hardly belongs to the last chapter of a century-old saga written in blood: it’s the chapter of the agrarian counter-reform engineered by the troika of paramilitaries, political bosses, and politicians that, after their revelations in Peace and Justice, are making their debut before the JEP. You can understand why Uribism wanted to destroy the tribunal for transitional justice. In the bowels of our history there is a thriving minority that accumulates land, pays taxes that are laughable or no taxes at all, profits from the public investment that kisses their properties, and grows fat on the predominant model of land without people and people without land.

Cut off from modernization in these regions, without government, without land, without jobs, the lives of the campesinos wear out, and social conflict boils.

Salomón Kalmanovitz presents an example right away: the El Ubérrimo Hacienda is land that has potential for agriculture, but is dedicated to extensive cattle raising. There are 1,500 hectares of prime development land, with the added value of irrigation and drainage provided by the government. Its owner declares its value at 17 times less than its commercial value. According to our analyst, it isn’t worth 8,600,000,000 pesos (roughly USD $2,168,536). It’s worth 165,000,000,000 pesos (roughly USD $41,605,641). As a result, the owner only owes 178,000,000 pesos (roughly USD $44,883) in taxes.

The right always has the habit of describing any attempt to indemnify for the lost commercial value of unused land as sovietization. The liberal policy typically applied all over Europe and in Japan without anesthesia, is the bogeyman of the elites that are in charge in our country, the most conservative on the continent, with the highest concentration of agricultural property. They called Statute 200 of López Pumarejo sovietizing, and set off The Violence, that of Lleras Restrepo they buried in Chicoral. Any allusion to legal recourse, even when ratified by Statute 60 of 1994 is called sovietizing. How do they prevail then, over history and common sense? By training their pistol on rural reform.

[1] Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

[2] United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization

[3] Colombian Cattle Ranchers Federation

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