Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos revealed on Friday that many acres of the country’s national parks are being appropriated to private owners for illegal use.
Santos denounced the corrupt use of national parks blaming “avivatos” — a term used to describe malicious opportunists — as the perpetrators.
“We have discovered that avivatos have stolen barren [lands] from the government and now they appear as private property within the parks,” the president declared.
Although 52 years of “land grabbing” in Colombia’s national parks have passed without any review, Santos warned that all offenders “will be put in jail.”
According to the director of national parks, Julia Miranda, the avivatos use the parks for “illegal construction, also for livestock, growing potatoes, illegal cultivation of coca, and irregular activities within the parks.”
The process of encroachment has been detected in the national parks of Tayrona, Paramillo, Sierra Nevada, Los Nevados, Chingaza, and La Macarena, among others, according to Miranda.