The Honduran elections Big new report: “After Plan Colombia”
Dec 022009

Tomorrow we will be releasing “After Plan Colombia,” a lengthy report on the Colombian government’s U.S.-supported “Integrated Action”  or “CCAI” programs, which appear to constitute the next phase of U.S. support to Colombia.

One of the report’s recommendations is that far more must be done to speed land titling in the zones where these state-building-and-counterinsurgency programs are being carried out. Farmers in the “Integrated Action” zones are still not getting titles to their land, and Colombia’s Agriculture Ministry (whose policies, as recent scandals indicate, favor large landholders) is chiefly to blame.

This was a big issue on our April and July research visits. It was very discouraging yesterday to see this piece by John Otis yesterday on the Global Post website, indicating that even today, months later, not a single land title has been handed out in the La Macarena “Integrated Action” zone. This is stunning.

For the past two years, La Macarena and nearby towns have been the focus of a two-year-old “consolidation plan” that has brought together troops, drug warriors and aid agencies in an effort to drive out the rebels, undermine the cocaine trade and bolster the legal economy.

Alvaro Balcazar, who manages the program, fears that the security patrols, new schools and crop substitution programs may fall short unless local peasants are brought into the legal system.

“Land titling is what’s going to make the difference in whether or not we can consolidate security and the rule of law,” he said.

Yet over the past two years, Balcazar admits that he doesn’t know of a single case in which a small land-holder has been awarded title to his land.

The land issue is critical to the CCAI strategy’s success. If it goes unaddressed, especially in zones where land is being bought up rapidly, it will be a key reason for its failure.

“After Plan Colombia” includes a discussion of the land-tenure issue and the CCAI’s strategy. We will add a link and a summary to the report here tomorrow morning. (We note that the INDEPAZ website in Colombia already has posted an earlier draft, with several typos.) Here are the blog entries that served as a rough draft of our work, which has since been substantially edited.

4 Responses to “Where are the land titles?”

  1. lfm Says:

    Sometimes I get the feeling that, from the point of view of the Uribe Administration, the war is really first about land and then about anything else. Land is the “polar star,” fixed in the policy heaven while everything else revolves around it. Justice and Peace? Yeah, demobilize, disarm, even extradite the ones who are no longer useful, but do not touch the land. Victims? Bring ‘em on! Give communal councils, give cash, give hope, give whatever, except for land. Agrarian frontier? Eradicate coca, fumigating if possible, by hand if needed, but do not let the coca growers return to the lands they once occupied. And so it goes, in every important policy juncture, the Administration is willing to think creatively and try everything, even if, horror of horrors, it is the right thing to do, as far as it does not touch landed interests.

    Gee, I’m beginning to wonder if this Administration owes something to landholders. Could it be that they used their thugs to deliver votes? Could it have something to do with the fact that Uribe is a landowner and his best friends are landowners? Nah, that’s conspiracy theory.

  2. Jaime Bustos Says:

  3. Camilo Wilson Says:

    A lack of land titles is one symbolic piece of much else that is, or will be lacking, with regard to State interventions to provide social justice to the countryside. The reasons? A combination of bureaucratic ineptitude and lack of political will. This is an old story in Colombia.

    Recent insurgent attacks, in Macarena, suggest that security on the military side may also be faltering.

    Another thought: withholding land titles could be by design. The current government doesn’t want to support small farmers, either in Macarena or elsewhere. That much is already clear. From a security standpoint, one wonders whether the logic of current policy is that large farms, and large politically influential farmers, offer the best chance of providing security in the countryside. (Through hiring armed groups to provide it?…)

  4. Marcos Says:

    Jaime, thanks for the link. There are no guerrilla commanders in Venezuela, that is a lie, so the purpose of this evil scheme is evident, it is a confirmed imperialist plan against Venezuela that must be prevented at all costs and using whatever means are necessary by the honorable rulers, the pristine people and the progressive armed forces of Bolivar!

    …what, this was supposed to have something to do with land titles and such? Nobody gave me the memo.



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