Colombian govt to return over 3,000 acres to displaced families

The Colombian Rural Development Institute on Wednesday appropriated more than 3,000 acres of land in northern Colombia for formally displaced farmers, local media reports.

After months of inspection and litigation, the Colombian Rural Development Institute (Incoder) will give back land in the southern part of the Bolivar department to rural families displaced by the country’s years of armed conflict.

“Today we are delivering the judgement of the three lots that were privately owned [but] in forfeiture…and identified as vacant,” said Miriam Villegas, Incoder’s director.

According to El Tiempo, over 680 acres in “Peñaloza” in the San Martin de Loba municipality, more than 126 acres in “Si Dios Quiere” in the Peñon municipality and approximately 2,300 acres in “Pavas” also in the Peñon municipality, will be handed over by the Colombian government as part of the ongoing Victims and Land Restitution Law.

The land in southern Bolivar at one point was owned by Pablo Escobar. After Colombia’s most famous drug lord, Jesus Emilio Escobar Fernandez owned the land only to later abandon it allowing 123 rural families to move in. These families were then displaced in 2003 with the arrival of paramilitary groups.

In 2006 there was a controversy over the acerage because Fernandez tried to sell the land to a multinational company but was turned down by Colombia’s Constitutional Court because Incoder was already moving to reappropriate it. And late last year, the final controversy surrounding the land in question revolved around the alleged false testimony of a man claiming to be a part of the Las Pavas group.

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