Land rights in Mapiripan

The Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commison (CIJP) accompanies the Sikuani and Jiw indigenous communities who are affected by extensive palm oil plantations in Mapiripan municipality (Meta department), mainly through training workshops on land and human rights. It accompanies some farmers who are reclaiming their land, including William Aljure, who was displaced from his farmland in Finca Santa Ana, in La Esmeralda (Mapiripan) after he was pressured by neo-paramilitary groups which are present in the area.

When Mr Aljure tried to return to Mapiripan, he was forcefully displaced to Villavicencio and then to Bogota because he was again being followed, threatened and pressured during 2015 and early 2016.[1] He is the spokesperson for the Conpaz Network and, since 2012, leads organisational strengthening processes in Mapiripan.

According to reports by CIJP, the palm oil company Poligrow which arrived in 2008, illegally appropriated approximately 80,000 hectares of land where it sowed more than 10,000 hectares of palms.[2] The small-scale farmers and indigenous people affected who reported the land theft and the alleged ties between the company and neo-paramilitary groups have received death threats.[3]

In its report “Los claro oscuros del grupo palmicultor Poligrow en Colombia”, CIJP also reports that the company’s activities could have serious consequences for the local ecosystem and biodiversity, in spite of orders from the Environmental Corporation, Cormacarena, to stop dumping palm fruit onto the ground,[4] and the palm company’s plans to extend the palm oil plantation to cover 15,000 hectares. According to the communities, expanding the cultivation of palms will completely deplete the subterranean water sources and affect the indigenous communities’ ancestral practices in the area.[5] As well as the negative impact on the indigenous communities and wetland forests, it is also detrimental to protected species such as otters and pink dolphins.


[1] Cijp: El despojo palmero continúa, 8th May 2015; Cijp: Plan de atentado contra William Aljure reclamante de tierras, 19th August 2015; Cijp: Persecución a reclamantes de tierras en municipio de Mapiripan, 3rd November 2015; Continúan las acciones de control paramilitar y la grave persecución y hostigamiento al líder reclamante de tierras William Aljure, 2nd February 2016
[2] Verdad Abierta: El Macondo de Mapiripán, 22nd April 2013; La Silla Vacía: El negocio ‘baldío’ de Poligrow, 18th July 2013
[3] Interview with Abilio Peña, 15th September 2015; Cijp: Los claro oscuros del grupo palmicultor Poligrow en Colombia, 12 August 2015; Cijp: Paramilitares amenazan a líder indígena Gloria Martínez, 3rd December 2015
[4] Cijp: Poligrow desacata a Cormacarena y MinTrabajo, 22nd July 2016
[5] Contagio Radio: La cara oculta de Poligrow, empresa palmera en Mapiripán, 30th July 2015; Radio Macondo: Amenazas a campesinos y graves daños ambientales en Mapiripán-Meta, 11th May 2016


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