Colombia has suspended the distribution of land plots destined for farmers and victims of displacement for at least two months until measures can be put in place to stem corruption, government land distribution agency Incoder said Thursday.
“We won’t give a centimeter more, until we can be sure what it is for and who it is for” Incoder manager Myriam Villegas told Colombian newspaper El Espectador Thursday, after Minister for Agriculture Juan Camilo Restrepo denounced the presence of a “mafia” of corruption operating in the government institution throughout the country, granting land to rich people, criminals and all other classes of people except the peasants who are supposed to receive the land.
According to Villegas, nearly 130,000 acres of land is now under ownership of people who do not fit the state qualifications and not “in the hands of the peasants as it should be.” Of a reported 2,000 known cases of fraud in the northwestern department of Antioquia, 130 have been passed on to the Prosecutor General’s office along with a further 163 cases across Colombia.
Restrepo, who addressed the situation in Antioquia capital Medellin, claimed that as well as cheating the rightful recipients, the corrupt and unjust granting of land is also damaging to the state.
“There are two main ways in which the state is being despoiled: the wrongful appropriation of land and its subsequent wrongful allocation” he said.
Villegas, who pointed to the lack of clear guidelines and regulations within the government institution as a possible explanation as to how corruption situation became so extensive throughout the organization, also criticized the timing of Agriculture Minister Restrepo’s retirement, which was announced on May 10, stating that “there is still a lot to do” adding that “today’s Incoder still lacks a lot of credibility in several sectors.”
Villegas concluded that no more cases will go through Incoder until “very clear instructions arrive to the territorial areas so that no more fraud can be committed.”
- ‘Se frenará titulación de baldíos’ (El Espectador)
- Continúan denuncias por entregas de tierra en Antioquia (El Tiempo)
- Incoder dio 26.000 hectáreas a falsos campesinos (El Colombiano)
- Con renuncia de Juan C. Restrepo comienza relevo ministerial (El Tiempo)