A group of around ninety displaced Colombians have taken over an abandoned property in Bogota in protest over the government’s inaction towards their lack of housing.
On Tuesday, at three in the morning the group, which included some children, arrived at a lot in the section of Suba in north-west Bogota.
Without using force on the security guard that was keeping watch over the land, and with a Colombian flag in hand, they claimed the property for the displaced community of Colombia.
The protesters say they are taking over the buildings as an act of protest to help bring about a definitive solution to their lack of housing. They are asking local and national authorities to help them return to the properties that they have been displaced from, mostly in the departments of Cauca, Huila, and the Caribbean coast.
On the lot are six unfinished buildings, each one six stories high, each story containing apartments with two or three bedrooms, but no running water or electricity.
A company called Tecfin bought the property six months ago.
Victor Hugo Terreros, a lawyer for the company, said that they acquired the lot in an auction, and that the previous owners, a construction company, had not worked on the lot in over five years.
A meeting held in the afternoon between local and national government officials and leaders of the displaced did not result in an agreement.
Suba mayor Ruben Bohorquez said afterwards that the local government was beginning a legal process to remove the families from the lot, and that the displaced families “can’t demand the right to take the private property of others.”
The local government also disputed whether all of the families were genuinely displaced by violence.
Suba has become a popular entry point for recently displaced families coming to Bogota from other regions, and has had to take similar actions recently to evict families squatting in abandoned buildings in the area.