‘FARC, ELN own 120,834 acres in southern Colombia’

Colombian guerrilla groups like the FARC and ELN are the owners of some 120,834 acres of land in the south of Colombia, Caracol Radio reported Sunday.

The radio station said it was given results of preliminary investigations carried out by authorities that indicate the FARC owns lands with a value of almost $35 million.

The lands allegedly were fraudulently acquired in guerrilla-controlled regions in the departments of Caqueta, Meta, Vichada and Antioquia.

Some of the information regarding the stolen land came from documents found on the computers of slain FARC commander “Mono Jojoy” who commander guerrilla forces in the east and southeast of Colombia where the country’s largest guerrilla group is alleged to own most its lands.

“All guerrilla groups have have taken part in the stealing of land in Colombia over the past 20 years,” the country’s superintendent of notaries and registry, Jorge Enrique Velez, told the radio station.

According to Velez, nobody has claimed to be victims of land theft by guerrillas. The superintendent blamed this on the fact that a lot of the stolen land is still regions where guerrilla groups are active and victims fear of retaliation.

The national government, who passed a law last year guaranteeing the return of stolen lands to their rightful owners, is working on a strategy to protect those civilians who have been displaced by the guerrillas and want to return, said Andres Villamizar, director of the national protection unit.

According to the official, the Ministry of Agriculture and the High Advisory of National Security will “prioritize certain areas where land restitution will be taking place.”

Until December, the Colombian government was able to recover 1 million acres of land stolen from small farmers and the state, primarily by paramilitary and neo-paramilitary groups.

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