Colombian President Reaffirms Restitution of Lands

By Dialogo
December 06, 2011

On December 4, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos reaffirmed that he will apply a law providing for the restitution of lands to rural workers displaced by armed groups of the extreme right and left.

“The message that we want to send is that the government is not going to allow the enemies of land restitution, of victim reparations, to get what they want, whether they are on the extreme right or on the extreme left,” Santos said in a statement to reporters.

The president made the declaration after receiving representatives of victims of the internal armed conflict and of rural workers demanding the return of their lands at the presidential palace, Nariño House.

In June, Santos issued a law on reparations for victims of the conflict and the restitution of lands to rural workers displaced by extreme right-wing armed groups or leftist guerrillas beginning in 1991, with the aim of returning at least 2 million hectares.

Santos denounced the existence of “enemies who want this law not to work” and attributed that objective to a “‘black hand’ on the right and on the left,” without identifying the groups on either side.

At least a dozen leaders of those seeking restitution of their lands have been murdered since Santos took office in August 2010 and began to move forward with the legal framework.

The administration’s decision is that “this law should start to be applied as quickly and effectively as possible,” the president stressed.