[act-ma] 4/2 & 4/3 Forced Displacement, Land, & Corporate Power in Colombia this Wednesday & Thursday

Cathy Crumbley colombiavive at mindspring.com
Tue Apr 1 08:07:54 PDT 2008


ACT-MA readers - If you cannot make the event with Eustaquio Polo on
Wednesday at Encuentro 5, please note that he will also be speaking at MIT
on Thursday.

Eustaquio Polo, a community leader from the Choco, Colombia, will be
speaking in the Boston area on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.  Do not
miss this chance to hear him talk about what his community as well as
numerous others have endured in trying to protect themselves and their lands
from forced displacement.  Please note that the location of the MIT event on
Thursday has changed from the earlier announcement.   

Eustaquio Polo will be presenting his story at the following times in the
Boston area:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

7:00 pm:  Event on displacement, corporate power, and the pending
US-Colombian bilateral free trade agreement.  Encuentro 5, 33 Harrison Ave,
Boston.  Contact: Suren(a)fairjobs.org

Thursday, April 03, 2008

2:30 pm:  Forum on displacement, land reclamation and corporate power in
Colombia.  Munce Conference Room, 20 Derne Street (Archer building; behind
the Mass. State House), Suffolk University.  Contact: MegMac6(a)hotmail.com

 

7:00 pm:  Forum on displacement, land reclamation and corporate power in
Colombia. Room 4-163 (Please note change of location).   MIT.     

Location map:  <http://whereis.mit.edu/map-jpg?selection=4&Buildings=go>
http://whereis.mit.edu/map-jpg?selection=4&Buildings=go   Contact:
agweiner(a)gmail.com

 

Violent Displacement and Palm Oil

There are currently 285,000 hectares of African oil palm trees in Colombia,
and President Álvaro Uribe plans to increase that number to one million
hectares in the next four years.  Oil palm produces a biofuel that has been
hailed as a cleaner alternative to petroleum.  But many of these palm
plantations are built on stolen land - land that communities in Curvaradó
once cultivated for sustenance crops.  

According to an April investigation by the Colombian Ministry of
Agriculture, “at least 25,000 hectares suitable for the cultivation of oil
palms
were acquired by private interests through illegitimate land titles.”
The investigation admits, too, that this illegal land acquisition has
coincided with the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of small
farmers.  

In 1997, under the pretext of a guerrilla presence in the region, the
Colombian military entered Curvaradó.  While army helicopters bombarded
civilian villages, paramilitary groups committed massacres and burned houses
and crops.  Today, those hundreds of communities who were forced to flee
their land in 1997 are among the 3.8 million internally displaced (IDP)
Colombians. 

Following the Curvaradó displacement, some farmers, like those of Eustaquio
Polo’s community, El Guamo, returned to their land, only to find it planted
with mile upon mile of oil palm.  The people of El Guamo have reclaimed
their land and are attempting to plant it once again with subsistence crops.
But they face ongoing attacks by paramilitaries (reformed after a purported
demobilization process) and by the Colombian military itself, who admit to
defending palm interests, and who brand community leaders like Eustaquio
Polo “guerrillas.”  

Eustaquio Polo is vice president on the board of the Major Council of the
Curvaradó river basin- Chocó, Colombia. He is 39 years old and is father of
four girls and five boys.  He is an active leader in the work that his
community has been doing to recover collectively titled lands occupied by
oil palm companies connected to the paramilitaries.

He has dedicated his life to the strengthening of the organizational process
of his community and in demanding respect for the rights of his community.
In this work he has participated in meetings with the national government of
Colombia, the United Nations and with Embassies located in Colombia,
including the US embassy. The communities of the Curvaradó river basin,
which Eustaquio belongs to, is protected by Provisional [protective]
Measures  from the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.  

As a result as Eustaquio´s efforts as a community leader, he has received
death threats from the oil palm companies as has the legal representative of
Curvaradó’s Council, Ligia María Chaverra.

 

Colombia Vive is an all-volunteer human rights organization that supports
efforts for peace, human rights, and social justice in Colombia. We defend
and support civilian groups in Colombia that share our perspective.


We condemn all forms of political violence and therefore do not support any
of the armed actors in the Colombian conflict.

 

Colombia Vive

31 Holden Street

Lowell, MA  01851

 <mailto:colombiavive at mindspring.com> colombiavive at mindspring.com

978-441-9488

 

 

 

Colombia Vive is an all-volunteer human rights organization that supports
efforts for peace, human rights, and social justice in Colombia. We defend
and support civilian groups in Colombia that share our perspective.


We condemn all forms of political violence and therefore do not support any
of the armed actors in the Colombian conflict.

 

Colombia Vive

31 Holden Street

Lowell, MA  01851

 <mailto:colombiavive at mindspring.com> colombiavive at mindspring.com

978-441-9488

 

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