Colombia’s government will submit a demand for land restitution of a farm stolen by the founders of paramilitary umbrella group AUC.
The founding brothers Fidel and Carlos Castaño of the disbanded AUC allegedly stripped nearly 3,000 acres from former land owners in what was one of the most significant “land grabs” realized by the two in the region.
Santa Paula, the name of the disputed farm, is located in northern Colombia near Monteria, Cordoba and worth approximately $22,000 according to newspaper El Tiempo. The agricultural ministry said they seek to “return [these lands] to their legitimate owners.”
While millions of acres of land are being disputed in various land restitution cases, this case “is a landmark case because it goes to the heart of the dispossession of large paramilitary mafias, it is a part of the intense labor that we do to further document cases of plunder and take them to the agrarian courts,” said Juan Camilo Restrepo, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development who is submitting the land restitution application.
The lawsuit will allegedly be filed next Thursday, and “the land restitution policy continues with determination: countless lawsuits are on the way to the agrarian courts,” said Restrepo according to newscast CM&
Both Fidel and Carlos Castaño are deceased and the lands are now in the hands of unamed figureheads of the paramilitary founders.
The AUC was created in the 80’s by the Castaño brothers in order to combat left wing guerrilla rebels. The ensuing conflict created widespread displacement for Colombian civilians with the current number of displaced persons estimated at ranges between 3.9 and 5.3 million people due to armed conflict.
The Victims and Land Restitution Law, considered one of President Juan Manuel Santos‘ most significant pieces of legislation, is a bill that went into effect in January and aimed at compensating Colombians who have suffered due to armed conflict since 1985. One of the bill’s primary aims is to assist in the appropriation of land to those victims who were forced to flee their homes as a result of the country’s ongoing internal conflict.