As TerraNullius has reported on several occassions, Colombia has serious problems in terms of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and disputes over land. Combine years of low-scale civil war with massive illegal drug production, and the results come as no surprise.
According to this report from the Latin American Herald Tribune, land disputes are driving violence against human-rights activists to frightening levels. Of the 49 activists killed in 2011, 25 were slain in the northern provinces of Antioquia, Cordoba, and Sucre, regions characterized by a “high level of land disputes and paramilitarism.”
Sadly, the increasing violence may be due to the government’s attempt to restore stolen lands to their previous owners. The Victims and Restitution of Lands Law, signed by President Juan Manuel Santos in June 2011, has upped the ante for former owners seeking to reclaim their property.
If the government had complete control of the situation, the process might be relatively smooth. As things stand, it’s anything but. To quote Colombian activist Diana Sanchez , the Victim’s Law is pitted against “landowners, ranchers, actors with a lot of real power who refuse to hand over lands that they violently usurped in the past.”