Jorge 40’s men originally threw peasants off the land in the area of Chibolo, and then were given title to it by the government in a past land restitution program.
The government has now discovered the deception and plans to give the land back to its original owners. A total of 53 plots have been recalled in the area.
The minister also said that now “about 4,000 hectares of reclaimed land will be redistributed amongst approximately 125 families …This is the first time the state has been forced to redistribute land fraudulently claimed by an illegal armed gang.”
The land was being redistributed as part of President Juan Manual Santos’ ambitious campaign to return peasant land illegally seized by armed paramilitaries and guerrillas during the armed conflict. It is a significant project, the first phase of which alone will ensure the redistribution of five million hectares of land. This is just a fraction of the estimated 14 million hectares of total land seized during the conflict, according to figures previously reported by Colombia Reports and published by Colombia’s Constitutional Court.
At this stage it is not known how the initial oversight in redistribution of the land took place but an investigation is now underway to ascertain who was responsible. According to Radio Santa Fe, the redistribution operation in Chibolo will begin within a few weeks.