Colombia Recovers 130,000 Hectares of Land Taken by Former FARC Chief

By Dialogo
February 25, 2013

While holding peace talks with the guerillas in Cuba to put an end to the armed conflict, the Colombian government started the recovery of 130,000 hectares of land on February 20, which had presumably been taken by the late military chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Mono Jojoy.

On February 20, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, headed a ceremony in which land deeds were granted to 342 families in the municipality of San Vicente del Caguán, Caquetá department, where 11 years ago unsuccessful peace talks with the FARC were carried out by former president Andrés Pastrana (1998-2002).

“We are granting these land deeds after two years, a period in which we were hoping to submit these ownership titles to farmers in this area of the country,” Santos said.

Santos also stated that “Mono Jojoy,” whose real name was Víctor Julio Suárez Rojas, was “one of the main landowners” in Colombia, who illegally took thousands of hectares from farmers and public property.

The Colombian President also revealed that the State is planning to investigate about 500,000 hectares in the next years, which were allegedly taken by the insurgency.

“Today, 11 years later, instead of being deprived by the FARC, we are depriving the FARC from their illegally occupied lands, and we are granting villagers the land that belongs to them,” Santos stated.

The Colombian Institute for Rural Development (Incoder) said in a statement that the farm “Tranquilandia” was among the recovered territory. Apparently, the farm served as permanent residency of “Mono Jojoy” – killed during an operation in 2010 – and as military base for the FARC’s Eastern Block.

In Colombia, over 3.7 million people have been displaced – one of the highest figures in the world – due to the armed conflict that has been going on for 50 years.