This past April 14th nearly 150 peasants displaced by the Colombian State and impacted by the construction of the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project, by transnational company Emgesa-Enel, in an act of sovereignty and territorial defense returned to their lands.
Peasants; day laborers, majordomos, share croppers and all affected by the construction of the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project legitimately returned to the lands that they were illegally displaced from in the name of the region´s economic development when these became of “public utility and interest” through Resolution 321 on September 1st, 2008. This recuperation of lands happens amidst the severing of local chains of production, the loss of employment and displacement generated by the National Government´s imposition of building a dam.
It is necessary to remember that on June 14th, 2011 the Ministry of Environment through Resolution 1096 implimented a preventive measure on Emgesa-Enel for causing displacement and loss of employment, generated when the company purchased properties in production the employed local inhabitants. Regardless, this same institution based on a document created by the company and that was not verified with any field work with the affected communities, suspended the preventive measure through Administrative Act 0123 on November 29th, 2011, that declared a “restructured loan that permits the presence of peasants on the lands” while the company meets it obligation of restituting productive activities as indicated by the environmental licensing. Ignoring the existence of this preventive measure Emgesa-Enel insulted communities and State institutions by continuing to purchase properties and displacing peasants. The complicity of the Colombian State with the transnational corporations is evident being that the National Authority of Environmental Licenses is the entity responsible for overseeing that the terms of environmental licenses are complied with in mining and energy extractions projects.
On September 3rd, 2011 Emgesa-Enel purchased the farm “La Virginia” located in the Municipality of Altamira then property of Arnulfo Parra. When purchased by the company the farm employed over 50 workers who had over 10 years of growing tobacco, rice, sorghum, corn and cattle ranching on these lands that they were displaced from. The situation on the neighboring farm “La Guipa” is similar, a cattle ranch of approximately 80 hectares that raised both beef and dairy cattle and employed over 20 workers permanently. All of these workers lost their employment and were displaced without any form of restitution or compensation for their productive activities. This is a violation of the fundamental right to dignified working and living conditions as established in the Political Constitution of Colombia.
On April 20th, after two years without a response from the State regarding the guarantees of the fundamental rights of those affected by the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project and without any restitution of the productive and economic activities by Emgesa-Enel, the peasants have returned to cultivate their lands in order to produce food for their families and to push for the creation of a Peasant Reserve that guarantees food security, sovereignty and autonomy.
We request Human Rights organizations to pressure the Colombian State for the protection of the peasants who are legitimately and legally defending their rights and for peoples in solidarity to do the same and be prepared for calls for direct actions. Donations of seeds and funds are appreciated.
Cell phone: 3138417749 – 3212097866.