Colombian authorities opened an investigation Monday into land theft by officials of the country’s institute for rural development, who on Monday denounced what it called the “land cartel,” the practice of stealing lands from the nation and giving them to the rich.
Irregularities were presented in face of officials of the institute Incoder in the awarding of approximately 250,000 acres in the northern Colombian department of Antioquia. The lands were allegedly used for holiday camps and resort zones, according to W Radio.
The director of Incoder, Jhenifer Mojica, announced the opening of an investigation of officials of the organization for the stealing of lands.
An inspector for the agriculture and environment department said that evidence of criminal conduct existed in relation to four territorial directors, a technical coordinator, two contractors and four officials in the entity.
The initial complaints were in Antioquia but irregularities also could be presented in other zones of the country such as the eastern Vichada department.
There is said to be between 1,500 and 2,000 records of vacant land titles processed during the years 2007 to 2011, that were under the control of the public ministry.
“It should be noted that the mentioned records are not isolated cases but were recurrent behavior,” said Mojica.
According to Incoder’s written complaint which was submitted on Monday a “good part of the barren land, reserved for poor farmers, was given to rich people in the department of Antioquia.”
The minister of agriculture and rural development, Juan Camilo Restrepo Salazar, said that the fraudulent decisions to award these properties will be revoked.
“Just as there were debris from violence, there is also indelicate handling of the awarding of land to those who don’t need it,” said Salazar adding, “These lands belong to the farmers of Colombia and not to some rich and opulent who don’t need it.”