Pitalito: Caught between land grabs and eviction

In the department of Cesar, Equipo Jurídico Pueblos (EJP) accompanies communities which have had their land stolen and have been forced off their farmlands by neo-paramilitary groups.

To date, they have been unable to recover their lands, despite legislation such as the Land Restitution Law, which by 2014 had aimed to recover 2 million hectares of land for approximately 400,000 families displaced by the violence. Nonetheless, obstacles such as threats and the murders of leaders in land restitution claims continue to take place.[1]



This happened to the community in Pitalito, (Chimichagua, Cesar), which fell victim to neo-paramilitary groups and the palm oil industry,[2] and whose attempts to return to its lands have failed several times.


In photographs: Returning to the countryside

Stories from the field: Conquering fears with the campesino community of Pitalito

Stories from the field: Leonardo Jaimes Marín: “Recently returned peasant families face delicate security situacion”


In 2000, the community was displaced by paramilitary groups, and claims by the Foundation Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (FCSPP) and EJP that in 2010 the community was unlawfully evicted by the Army.[3] Both organisations have accompanied and given legal advice to these families since March 2011. Its most recent return, in May 2013, lasted less than six months. In October of the same year, State and Security Force members again evicted the families who had already started cultivating their crops.

Pitalito_web
Its most recent return, in May 2013, lasted less than six months.

“What is different about the Pitalito case, is that the conditions which caused them to become displaced have not been overcome. The perpetrators have not been prosecuted. In other words, something as serious as forced displacement is nonetheless in complete impunity”, Leonardo Jaimes.[4]



Footnotes:

[1] PBI Colombia: Retornar al campo, June 2013
[2] Verdad Abierta: Pitalito, Cesar, una vereda entre el despojo y el desalojo, sin fecha
[3] PBI Colombia, op. cit.
[4] Ibíd.

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