This time our destination was Mapiripan, a municipality in Meta, one of Colombia’s largest departments, in a region known as The Plain, where the main economic activities have traditionally been agriculture, cattle ranching and petroleum production. In recent years, however, palm oil is being produced thanks to the multinational company Poligrow.
Land rights in Mapiripan (July 2016)
The essence of the “vida campesina” (July 2016)
We are accompanying the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission, an organisation that is supporting the land claimant William Aljure. For the last five years, William and his brother Dumar have been getting death threats from people who belong to neo-paramilitary groups which operate in the area. The threats forced them to leave the lands they consider to have rightfully inherited. William and Dumar are the grandsons of politician and former guerrilla Dumar Aljure, to whom the government had given lands in the Mapiripan area after he demobilised.
After their parents’ death, the Aljure brothers inherited their father’s plot. At first sight, it should not have been a complicated process, but the reality is that it has been very difficult. To date there is still no clarity on the issue, because the process has been embroiled by the alleged sales of part of the farmland by members of the Aljure family to the multinational palm oil company Poligrow, before the title to the estate had been finalised.
It is a delicate issue, because the palm oil company has a strong presence in the Mapiripan area, producing oil palm for biodiesel, a project vaunted by the company as model of environmental soundness. However, according to the Institute of Studies for Development and Peace (Indepaz) and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (Somo), there have been several kinds of irregularities in the project’s implementation, including the way in which the lands were acquired, and its impact on indigenous communities.
Despite these issues, and what may lie ahead now that the Aljure brothers have returned, it was wonderful to share and experience with them the moment of their return to the land they call home.
 El Espectador: Nietos de líder guerrillero retornan a sus tierras en Mapiripán, 31 March 2017
 El Espectador: Multinacional Poligrow y nietos de exguerrillero liberal, en pleito por tierras en Meta, 21 April 2017
 Verdad Abierta: Lupa a la multinacional Poligrow que opera en Mapiripán, Meta, 4 November 2015