On April 14th, after closing the ballot boxes of the irregular elections for governor of the Department of Huila, the “Voto en Blanco”, the option against the regional political class received 80,000 votes compared to 128,000 votes in support of the candidate Carlos Mauricio Iriarte. Iriarte had a campaign of hundreds of thousands of Colombian Pesos, while the “Voto En Blanco” did not have a budget and was a success in the regions of the department where there are struggles against different mega-development projects.
That same evening, peasants from the Association of Affected Peoples of the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project-Asoquimbo from across the region impacted by the dam have taken over the farms “la Guipa” and “La Virginia” (highway from La Jagua to Tarqui, in the Municipality of Altamira) as an act of territorial defense and to pressure the state to suspend the project and create a Peasant Reserve.
The farm “la Guipa” a dairy and beef cattle ranch of about 80 hectares that in its moment of production employed over twenty workers permanently. The farm “La Virginia” is approximately 180 hectares and employed over fifty workers who cultivated tobacco, rice, corn, sorghum and cattle as well. These farms were illegally bought by the company when they purchased these properties that were part of the local economy and chains of production of local inhabitants.
It has been two years that Emgesa purchased and abandoned these lands, denying productivity to various peasant families that have not decided to recuperate these two farms and create a different life for those present. Associations are forming that will focus on the cultivation of different crops and raising cattle on the liberated lands. The youth part of the collective “Jaguos por el Territorio” are cleaning the underbrush from an area adjacent to the Magdalena River waiting for the next waning moon to plant plantains, yuca and other food crops without chemicals and using different agro-ecology methodologies. “We want to recuperate and take care of nature and our territory as well as protect sacred spaces such as the petroglyphs” explained the youth Ruben Trujillo from La Jagua.People continue to arrive from all parts of the affected area in this collective force to recuperate the lands that local inhabitants have worked for centuries, maintaining the chains of production of the region that at this moment the multinational company Emgesa-Endesa-Enel controls and does not permit local communities to subsist from.
Peasants are collecting funds for the seeds, fuel and machinery to start producing food from these lands immediately. The hunger and unemployment of the local population has reached such a level of urgency that the liberation of the territory by its inhabitants has been chosen method.
Those affected by the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project are liberating farms and demanding that the environmental licenses for the Quimbo H. P., the Master Advantage Plan of the Magdalena River and the activities of the petroleum company Emerald Energy in the area of the paramo of Miraflores be permanently suspended and immediately initiate the creation of a Agro-Nutritional Peasant Reserve in the affected areas.
Those interested in supporting the process of territorial defense and liberation please contact the Association of Affected Peoples of the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project-Asoquimbo.