A family in central Colombian has filed a $340 billion lawsuit against the government, claiming the land rights to a large portion of Antioquia Department, reported local media Thursday.
In the lawsuit, members of the Durango family declare that nearly 750,000 sq. miles in eleven municipalities throughout Antioquia belonged to their grandfather, Mirocletes Durango, in the 1930s and demand the government pay them the lofty sum for the loss of land.
“Based on titles that go back centuries, they claim to own half of Antioquia Department,” said Minister of Justice Juan Carlos Esguerra.
The initial dispute began in 1967 when the State seized the estate after the family was unable to provide legal evidence of ownership. The land was later found to be rich in coal deposits.
The family first filed suit against the now-defunct Colombian Agrarian Reform Institute, INCORA, in 2003 for exploiting the property, but was rejected due to the fact that the heirs were never formally accredited the land.
In March 2009, the Administrative Tribunal of Antioquia again ruled against the plaintiffs, on the grounds of insufficient evidence of legal rights to the land. The family appealed and is currently awaiting the verdict.
This is the largest of 260,000 pending cases totaling over $580 billion against the Colombian government pertaining to land ownership rights.
According to Minister of the Interior German Vargas Lleras, “If all of the cases against the nation were won, every Colombian would have to pay $12,400.”
The territory in question includes rural and urban areas in the eastern zone of the department, home to approximately 150,000 people.