Land Grabbing in Colombia: Critical Perspectives on the Peace Process

14 November 2013

The conflict in Colombia has in many ways been instrumental in forcing smallholder farmers, indigenous people and Afro-Colombians from their land. Over the last decades various actors took advantage of the chaos and relied on paramilitaries and criminal bands to take control of large swaths of land to mine for gold, explore oil reserves and establish palm oil plantations. Against the backdrop of the global rush for natural resources, new free trade agreements and the Colombian government’s promotion of mining and agribusiness, the demand for land is unlikely to dwindle.

This seminar is part of a wider advocacy tour through Europe and will offer a panoramic view on land grabbing in Colombia in the context of the current peace talks. Each of our Colombian guests will look at the land issue from a different perspective, followed by an interactive session between the panel and the public. What are the main causes of land grabbing in Colombia? How is land linked to the peace process and what are the perspectives so far? How can we ensure that our governments and companies are not complicit in human rights violations?

Location: Rode Hoed (Zwanenzaal), Keizersgracht 102, Amsterdam (Google Maps)

Date and time: Thursday 14 November 2013, 15:30 -18:00 (drinks afterwards)
Free entrance: registrations appreciated by email to Daniel Gomez
Languages: Spanish and English (simultaneous translation will be provided)


15:30: Venue open
15:45: Welcome by Lyda Fernanda Forero (TNI, moderator)

Abilio Peña (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz - CIJP, Colombia)

Abilio Peña is the author of a case study on Banacol, a banana company associated with paramilitary groups and implicated in land grabbing. He will explain how companies have cooperated with paramilitaries and criminal bands to grab land. Peña is part of the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP), which accompanies communities and organisations that affirm their rights in areas of armed conflict, without resorting to violence. The commission supports specific activities in search of truth, justice and reparation, as well as negotiated political solutions to the internal armed conflict.
16:05: César Jerez (Asociación Campesina del Valle del Río Cimitarra - ACVC, Colombia)

César Jerez is involved in the peace process on behalf of ACVC. He promotes the idea of ‘peasant reserves’ and other alternatives to confront land grabbers. ACVC is a grassroots organisation representing over 30,000 peasant farmers of the Cimitarra Valley in the Magdalena Medio region. ACVC promotes the human rights of agrarian workers, supports their struggle for access to land and advocates for a genuine agrarian reform. ACVC is also involved in the implementation of projects to ensure food and nutritional sovereignty and security.


16:20: To be confirmed: Juan Pablo Soler (CENSAT/Friends of the Earth Colombia)

Juan Pablo Soler will explain how land grabbing is related to the mining energy model in Colombia. CENSAT is a member of Friends of the Earth International and campaigns on forest conservation, food sovereignty, water issues and mining.

16:35 - 18:00: Summary by moderator and interactive session between the panel and the public

18:00 - 19:00: Drinks

All speakers will be available for interviews. Contact Camiel Donicie by email or +31 (0) 20 - 7700435

About TNI and FIAN
The Transnational Institute (TNI) was founded in 1974 and has since been entwined with the history of global social movements and their struggle for economic, social and environmental justice.

FIAN is an international human rights organisation that campaigns for the realisation of the right to food worldwide. FIAN was founded in 1986 and has national sections in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. We have members in more than 50 different countries.

TNI and FIAN are part of the Hands off the Land Alliance, a European research and advocacy project aims to raise awareness about land grabbing amongst the European public, politicians, policy makers, students and professionals. The project presents case documentation, fact sheets and thematic studies of transnational land grabs in Mali, Mozambique, Zambia, Colombia and Cambodia.