Colombian government makes historic step towards land reform and peace : Peoples Dispatch


Colombian President Gustavo Petro, Agriculture Minister Cecilia López Montaño and FEDEGÁN President José Félix Lafaurie signed an agreement on October 8 to buy 3 million hectares of land from cattle ranchers to then redistribute it to peasant families. (Photo: Colombian Presidency/Twitter)

The government of Colombian President Gustavo Petro and the Colombian Federation of Cattle Breeders (FEDEGÁN) signed an agreement on Saturday (October 8th) that would see the widespread implementation of long-awaited and long-delayed land reform in the country.

According to the agreement signed by President Petro, Agriculture Minister Cecilia López Montaño and FEDEGÁN President José Félix Lafaurie, the national government will buy three million hectares of productive land from cattle ranchers, who are ready to sell their land at a fair price with the aim of redistributing it to landless or land-scarce peasant families.

With this agreement, the Petro administration has made progress on two of its electoral promises, the pursuit of social justice and the consolidation of peace in the country. The agreement allows the implementation of the Integral Rural Reform, which fulfills the first point of the Havana Peace Accords signed with the demobilized FARC guerrillas in November 2016.

Human rights defender and senator Iván Cepeda explained that “the comprehensive nature of the reform consists of the commitment not only to deliver land, but also to guarantee the conditions of productivity, the access routes to markets , agricultural inputs, which make the project viable and sustainable in the long term.”

President Petro, on his Twitter account, welcomed the signing of the agreement and describe as “historic”, adding that “the social pact and peace are possible”.

FEDEGÁN, founded in 1963 to defend private property against the then expropriating agrarian reform, also called the agreement “historic”. FEDEGÁN president Lafaurie praised the conciliatory attitude of the Petro administration.

“The government could do it without us or, even, against us, but they decided to do it with us, and that inclusion has a significance that we cannot measure right now,” Lafaurie said in a statement. statement. He added that “FEDEGÁN has never been against the peasant’s right to own land, accompanied by conditions that make it truly productive”.

The deal is indeed remarkable given conservative FEDEGÁN’s fierce opposition to the land distribution section of the Havana Peace Accords. The Federation had criticized Petro’s campaign promises to fully respect the 2016 peace accords to achieve ‘total peace’ and to introduce land reform to tackle high levels of inequality and unproductivity in the sector. .

Petro’s land reform

In Colombia, 0.4% of the population owns 46% of rural land. Cattle ranchers are among the largest owners of large tracts of land. During his election campaign, Petro pledged to introduce land reform to solve one of the country’s deepest problems.

Last month, on September 21, the government began the first phase of land redistribution, with the issuance of land titles to peasants, indigenous communities and people of African descent. In this phase, which will run until November 15, a total of 680,000 hectares of land will be delivered to 12,600 families in 19 of the country’s 32 departments.

The second phase will begin soon after, in which the government will lease 125,000 hectares confiscated from drug traffickers to peasant organizations. In the third phase, the government will sell 5 million hectares, bought from pastoralists and other large landowners, at a lower price to people working in agriculture or in small and medium-sized businesses.

The Petro Peace Process

Since taking office in early August, the national government has consistently worked to meet its commitments to end the violence in the country. This agreement is the latest achievement of the new peace process run by the Petro administration. It is significant for the peace talks that the government is seeking to reopen with the dissidents of the FARC, which resumed armed struggle in August 2019, following the violation of peace agreements by the government of former conservative President Iván Duque.

national celebration

The signing of the agreement between the government and FEDEGÁN was celebrated by human rights activists.

Human rights activist Carlos Velandia, praising the deal, said that “the purchase agreement will allow the country to move forward in social justice, strengthen the peasant economy, food sovereignty, reduce food imports by 14 million tons, lower the cost of living and achieve peace and equity”.

Jorge Rojas Rodríguez, human rights defender and founder of the Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES), also described the agreement as “historic”. “The agreement was built by recognizing diversity, respecting differences and seeking a common national agenda. This agreement is a real step forward in an objective that has been rejected many times: agrarian reform in Colombia”, tweeted Rodríguez.

In other Tweeterhe added that the agreement “highlights the democratic spirit of President Gustavo Petro, represents a powerful step forward for comprehensive rural reform, promotes the implementation of the peace agreement and opens up possibilities for overcoming the causes of the conflicts and drug trafficking”.

Luis Emil Sanabria Duran, human rights activist and founder of Redepaz, also welcomed the news. “Total peace is everyone’s commitment, this agreement with FEDEGÁN shows that the inclusion of those who think differently is possible and necessary. The way to a comprehensive rural reform has opened, which will fully complement the delivery of land. The land will belong to all who work it, live on it, enjoy it and respect it,” Sanabria Duran writes in a thread.

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