LAND RESTITUTION DOCUMENT & URGENT ACTION

 Al pié en castellano: Campesinos en peligro de desalojo forzoso

URGENT ACTION

Peasant farmers at risk of forced eviction

Peasant farmers in El Tamarindo on the outskirts of Barranquilla, northern Colombia, are at risk, facing a possible forced eviction and having received paramilitary death threats.

These familiesare at risk of forced eviction from El Tamarindo, Atlántico Department, northern Colombia, after local authorities offered them inadequate resettlement, which would only benefit a few and leave the majority of the households homeless. Since the late 1990s, families who were forcibly displaced in the course of the armed conflict began to move to the farm. Fourteen years later they have still not received effective remedy. By 2001, 130 families had peacefully occupied four areas of the farm. There have been repeated attempts by Barranquilla District administrative state authorities, the district ombudsman’s office, the army, police and armed men, to force them off the land, resulting in the forced eviction of some families. Safeguards required by international law, including to consult them about alternative solutions, to provide adequate notice and to properly and clearly identify the areas affected by the eviction, have not been respected. Following previous forced evictions, some of those forcibly evicted are now also occupying El Mirador, one of the four areas of the El Tamarindo farm, which they declared and was recognized by civil society as a Humanitarian Zone, Refuge of Peace and Hope (Espacio Humanitario, Refugio de Paz y Esperanza) on 13 April 2014. There is currently a risk that they will be forcibly evicted from that area. El Tamarindo farm is in an area that was declared part of a Free Trade Zone in 2007 and since 2008 local businesses have been claiming ownership of the land occupied by the families.

In addition to the forced evictions, peasant farmers of El Tamarindo have been threatened by paramilitaries, who have had a long history of collusion with state security forces. Most recently, a death threat naming Juan Martínez, one of the community leaders, signed by the paramilitary group Black Eagles Northern Bloc Atlantic Coast (Bloque Norte Costa Atlántica Águilas Negras), was circulated on 11 January 2015.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

-         Urging the authorities to ensure that families of El Tamarindo are not forcibly evicted;

-         Urging them to guarantee the safety of the families of El Tamarindo including through full and impartial investigations into the death threats, taking into account their needs and demands, so that they are able to campaign for the recognition of their rights to the land without fear and intimidation;

-         Reminding them to guarantee the right to an effective remedy to those forcibly displaced in the conflict and families who have been forcibly evicted so far, including access to resettlement in conditions of security and dignity in line with international human rights standards;

-        Calling for action to dismantle paramilitary groups operating in the area, break any links between the security forces and these groups and bring those responsible for supporting these groups to justice.

 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 25 MAY 2015 TO:

 

President

Juan Manuel Santos

Presidente de la República

Palacio de Nariño, Carrera 8 No.7-26

Bogotá, Colombia

Fax: +57 1 596 0631

Salutation: Dear President Santos/ Excmo Sr Presidente Santos

Governor of Atlántico Department

Dr. José Antonio Segebre Berardinelli

Gobernador del Departamento del Atlántico

Gobernación del Atlántico

Calle 40, Cra. 45 y 46

Barranquilla, Atlántico, Colombia

Salutation: Dear Governor / Estimado Sr. Gobernador

 

And copies to:

ASOTRACAMPO

Carrera 19 #15a - 38

Barrio Villanorte

Corregimiento La Playa

Barranquilla, Atlántico

Colombia

 


Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:

Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation        

 

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the fourth update of UA 103/13. Further information: www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr23/021/2014/en/


URGENT ACTION

peasant farmers at risk of forced eviction

ADditional Information

Millions of hectares of land have been seized during Colombia’s long-running armed conflict, often through serious human rights abuses and violations committed against the rightful occupants, especially Indigenous People, Afro-descendant and peasant farmer communities. During the course of the armed conflict, the warring parties – paramilitaries and the security forces, acting either separately or in collusion, and guerrilla groups – have driven almost six million people from their homes.

Some 130 families who had been forcibly displaced from their homes in Cesar, Córdoba, Magdalena and Sucre departments in the course of the conflict, occupied 120 hectares of the El Tamarindo farm, in Atlántico Department, in 2001. The farm had been abandoned. In 2007, the state authorities announced that a Free Trade Zone would be established in an area including the El Tamarindo farm. In 2008 a local business began legal proceedings claiming ownership of the land.

A group of armed men, suspected to be paramilitaries operating in the area linked to business interests, has repeatedly threatened to kill peasant farmers living in El Tamarindo. Narciso Enrique Tehrán Mejía, the son of the vice-president of the Association of Land Workers (Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo, ASOTRACAMPO) was shot dead as he slept on 12 April 2013 in El Tamarindo.

The local civilian authorities used the security forces in an unsuccessful attempt to enforce orders to evict the peasant farmers on 28 January 2012; these orders had reportedly been obtained by powerful economic actors who are claiming ownership of the land. This was one of the instances in which local armed men threatened the peasant farmers during an attempted eviction. There have been repeated attempts to forcibly evict those living in El Tamarindo, some of them successfully carried out.

On 7 November 2013, 28 families were forcibly evicted from their land in the Beitjala area of the El Tamarindo farm by the anti-riot police ESMAD and police. Three people were injured and taken to a hospital following the forced eviction. The peasant farmer families lost their crops and some of their animals. The forced eviction came a few days after death threats by the paramilitary group Rastrojos Urban Commands Barranquilla (Rastrojos – Comandos Urbanos Barranquilla).

Between 9 November 2013 and 10 March 2014 members of the II Brigade of the Military Police set up a post on the El Tamarindo farm. Witnesses in the area report that they have seen the military police and the armed men together and have seen them undertaking joint patrols.

Name: peasant farmers of El Tamarindo

Gender m/f: both

  

Further information on UA: 103/13 Index: AMR 23/1439/2015 Issue Date: 13 April 2015

 

 

ACCIÓN URGENTE

Campesinos en peligro de desalojo forzoso

Los campesinos de El Tamarindo, a las afueras de Barranquilla, en el norte de Colombia, corren peligro, pues se enfrentan a un posible desalojo forzoso y han recibido amenazas de muerte de paramilitares.

Estas familias corren peligro de ser desalojadas forzosamente de El Tamarindo, departamento de Atlántico, en el norte de Colombia, después de que las autoridades locales les hayan ofrecido un reasentamiento inadecuado, que sólo beneficiaría a unos pocos y dejaría a la mayor parte de las familias sin hogar. Desde finales de la década de 1990, familias que se habían visto obligadas a desplazarse en el transcurso del conflicto armado empezaron a trasladarse a la finca. Catorce años después, aún no han recibido una reparación efectiva. En 2001, 130 familias habían ocupado pacíficamente cuatro áreas de la finca. Las autoridades administrativas del distrito de Barranquilla, la Personería distrital, el ejército, la policía y hombres armados han tratado repetidamente de expulsarlas de la tierra, y han provocado el desalojo forzoso de algunas familias. Las salvaguardias establecidas por el derecho internacional, que incluyen consultar a los afectados sobre soluciones alternativas, notificar adecuadamente el desalojo e identificar de manera clara y adecuada las zonas afectadas por él, no se han respetado. Tras los desalojos forzosos llevados a cabo previamente, algunas de las personas desalojadas han ocupado ahora también El Mirador, una de las cuatro áreas de la finca El Tamarindo, que el 13 de abril de 2014 declararon, con el reconocimiento de la sociedad civil, Espacio Humanitario, Refugio de Paz y Esperanza. En la actualidad, existe el peligro de que sean desalojadas forzosamente de esa área. La finca El Tamarindo se encuentra en un área que en 2007 fue declarada zona de libre comercio, y desde 2008 algunas empresas locales han venido reclamando la propiedad de la tierra ocupada por las familias.

Además de los desalojos forzosos, los campesinos de El Tamarindo han sido amenazados por paramilitares, que tienen un largo historial de connivencia con las fuerzas de seguridad del Estado. Recientemente, el 11 de enero de 2015, se difundió una amenaza de muerte en la que se citaba a Juan Martínez, uno de los líderes comunitarios; la amenaza estaba firmada por el grupo paramilitar Bloque Norte Costa Atlántica Águilas Negras.

Escriban inmediatamente, en español o en su propio idioma:

- instando a las autoridades a garantizar que las familias de El Tamarindo no son objeto de desalojo forzoso;

- instándolas a garantizar la seguridad de las familias de El Tamarindo, por medios entre los que se incluyen la realización de investigaciones exhaustivas e imparciales sobre las amenazas de muerte, teniendo en cuenta las necesidades y demandas de las personas afectadas, para que puedan hacer campaña por el reconocimiento de su derecho a la tierra sin temor ni intimidación;

- recordándoles que deben garantizar el derecho a un reparación efectiva para las personas que han sufrido desplazamiento forzado a causa del conflicto y para las familias que han sido desalojadas hasta el momento; ese derecho incluye el acceso al reasentamiento en condiciones de seguridad y dignidad, de acuerdo con las normas internacionales de derechos humanos;

- pidiendo que se tomen medidas para desmantelar los grupos paramilitares que actúan en la zona, romper cualquier vínculo entre ellos y las fuerzas de seguridad y llevar ante la justicia a los responsables de apoyarlos.

 

ENVÍEN LLAMAMIENTOS ANTES DEL 25 DE MAYO DE 2015 A:

 

Presidente

Juan Manuel Santos

Presidente de la República

Palacio de Nariño, Carrera 8 No.7-26

Bogotá, Colombia

Fax: +57 1 596 0631

Tratamiento: Excmo. Sr. Presidente Santos


Gobernador del Departamento del Atlántico

Dr. José Antonio Segebre Berardinelli

Gobernador del Departamento del Atlántico

Gobernación del Atlántico

Calle 40, Cra. 45 y 46

Barranquilla, Atlántico, Colombia

Tratamiento: Estimado Sr. Gobernador


Y copia a:

ASOTRACAMPO

Carrera 19 #15a - 38

Barrio Villanorte

Corregimiento La Playa

Barranquilla, Atlántico

Colombia

 


Envíen también copias a la representación diplomática de Colombia acreditada en su país. Incluyan las direcciones de las sedes diplomáticas locales a continuación:

Nombre Dirección 1 Dirección 2 Dirección 3 Fax Número de fax Correo-e Dirección de correo-e Tratamiento Tratamiento

 

Consulten con la oficina de su Sección si van a enviar los llamamientos después de la fecha indicada. Ésta es la cuarta actualización de la AU 103/13. Más información: https://www.amnesty.org/es/documents/amr23/021/2014/es/


ACCIÓN URGENTE

Campesinos en peligro de desalojo forzoso

Información complementaria

En el transcurso del prolongado conflicto armado de Colombia, millones de hectáreas de tierra han sido arrebatadas, a menudo mediante graves abusos y violaciones de derechos humanos, a sus ocupantes legítimos, especialmente comunidades indígenas, afrodescendientes y campesinas. Durante el curso del conflicto armado, las diversas partes enfrentadas –los paramilitares y las fuerzas de seguridad (que actúan por separado o en connivencia), de una parte, y los grupos guerrilleros, de la otra– han expulsado a casi seis millones de personas de sus hogares.

En 2001, unas 130 familias que habían sido desplazadas forzosamente de sus hogares en los departamentos del Cesar, Córdoba, Magdalena y el Sucre en el curso del conflicto ocuparon 120 hectáreas de la finca El Tamarindo, en el departamento de Atlántico. La finca estaba abandonada. En 2007, las autoridades estatales anunciaron que se establecería una zona de libre comercio en una zona que incluía la finca El Tamarindo. En 2008, una empresa local inició los procedimientos legales para reclamar la propiedad de las tierras.

Un grupo de hombres armados, presuntamente paramilitares que actúan en la zona vinculados a intereses empresariales, ha amenazado de muerte en reiteradas ocasiones a los campesinos que viven en El Tamarindo. Narciso Enrique Teherán Mejía, hijo del vicepresidente de la Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo (ASOTRACAMPO), murió por disparos mientras dormía el 12 de abril de 2013 en El Tamarindo.

Las autoridades civiles locales utilizaron a las fuerzas de seguridad en un intento infructuoso de hacer cumplir las órdenes de desalojar a los campesinos el 28 de enero de 2012; esas órdenes habían sido obtenidas, según los informes, por poderosos actores económicos que reclaman la propiedad de la tierra. Este fue uno de los casos en que hombres armados locales amenazaron a los campesinos durante un intento de desalojo. Se ha producido numerosos intentos, algunos de ellos con éxito, de desalojar forzosamente a los campesinos que viven en El Tamarindo.

El 7 de noviembre de 2013, miembros del Escuadrón Móvil Antidisturbios (ESMAD) de la policía y de la policía desalojaron forzosamente a 28 familias de sus tierras en el área de Beitjala de la finca El Tamarindo. Tres personas resultaron heridas y fueron trasladadas a un hospital tras el desalojo forzoso. Las familias perdieron sus cosechas y algunos de sus animales. El desalojo forzoso se produjo pocos días después de las amenazas de muerte del grupo paramilitar Rastrojos – Comandos Urbanos Barranquilla.

Entre el 9 de noviembre de 2013 y el 10 de marzo de 2014, miembros de la II Brigada de la Policía Militar establecieron un puesto en la finca El Tamarindo. Los testigos de la zona informan de que han visto juntos a la policía militar y a los hombres armados, y de que les han visto realizar patrullas conjuntas.

Nombre: campesinos de El Tamarindo

Sexo: Hombres y mujeres

 

 

 

 

Más información sobre AU: 103/13 Índice: AMR 23/1439/2015 Fecha de emisión: 13 de abril de 2015

 

DOCUMENT:

Al pié en castellano: En busca de un lugar al que puedan llamar hogar: Desalojos forzosos y despojo de tierras en El Tamarindo, Colombia 

Looking for a place to call home: forced evictions and dispossession in El Tamarindo, Colombia

By Maeve McClenaghan, 30 March 2015, 17:08 UTC

Image: © Amnesty International

María* is tired of being forced to move from place to place. The 54-year-old adjusts her colourful headscarf and sighs heavily. She is one of Colombia’s six million forcibly displaced people.

 

For years María called El Tamarindo home. Nestled in the outskirts of the city of Barranquilla, Atlántico Department, in northern Colombia, the farm had become a safe haven for many people who had previously been forced from their homes by the country’s on-going armed conflict. The first families moved to the land in 1999, others came later setting themselves up in four areas of the farm. At one point 135 families were working the land there, but the peaceful life couldn’t last.

 

In 2008 local businesses claimed ownership of the land through legal proceedings. The local authorities and state security forces became involved and the first forced evictions started.

 

In November 2013 it was María’s turn. State securityforces and other armed men, thought to be linked to paramilitaries, moved in and threw her, and many in her community out. Areas cultivated by the peasant farmersthat were once lush and green have been left barren by bulldozers.

 

María cannot stop dreaming of what she has lost.

 

“The day of the eviction was so painful,” she recalls. She was at home with a friend, “They took me, pulled me out, took everything outside and tore everything down.”

 

She was removed from her house by armed men. Outside, others were being thrown out of their homes. It was a panicked scene and María explains how she was ready to run for her life.

 

“What was I afraid of? That they would do what they always do in Colombia and there would be a massacre; we have seen thousands of those,” she says shakily.

According to international law, the Colombian government is obliged to properly consult with the community, clearly identify the areas earmarked for eviction, and provide adequate notice to those threatened with eviction. In this case that simply did not happen.

 

 

“I had arrived in Tamarindo in 2007. I was working on the little plot of land I had. I grew everything, bananas, coconuts, guava, mango, tamarind. It was so beautiful.”

 

 

“Why did they have to treat us like that?”

While she misses her little plot of land, María is too afraid to go back.

“I have never tried to return [to the plot she was evicted from], it is too dangerous. There are still armed men all over the place and we are too scared to go back. There are still a few people living on their plot of land in the area but they live in fear.”

 

María, along with most of the residents of El Tamarindo who were forcibly evicted, now live crammed into the only small plot of land that remains, “El Mirador”. On 13 April 2014 the families declared El Mirador a “Temporary Humanitarian Space” naming it the “Refuge of Peace and Hope”, as part of a strategy to protect themselves and prevent further forced evictions.

 

Farming enough food to live on has become near impossible. People are going hungry. It is a critical situation aggravated by recent cuts to the water supply.

 

The children of the community have been particularly affected; they have a poor diet, there are not enough resources to send them away to school and they have no place to play.  

 

In desperation, some have moved to the city of Barranquilla. “There, people work on markets trying to make a bit of money,” explains María. However, as peasant farmers with little city-experience, they are facing new hardships.  

 

Now, many of those evicted from the area are asking the local and regional authorities to quickly resettle them elsewhere, to a place they can call home and from which they will not be forced to flee again, as promised by the regional authorities – a place where they can live in dignity with all their basic human rights respected, including adequate housing, water and a decent standard of living. Amnesty International is joining in that call.

 

“The local government isn’t interested in us, they don’t care that we are people too. If I could talk to the President I would tell the government not to wipe out poor families. There isn't even the slightest intention to help our communities,” María says.

 

To this day, the peasant farmers who sought a new life in El Tamarindo continue to be threatened by paramilitaries, who have had a long history of collusion with state security forces, and still face the frightening prospect of being forcibly evicted and dispossessed from their lands.

 

One of the most recent threats the community received was a pamphlet from a paramilitary group known as the “Black Eagles Northern Bloc Atlantic Coast” (Bloque Norte Costa Atlántica Águilas Negras). The document was delivered to the house of Juan Martínez, one of the leaders of the El Tamarindo community, on 11 January. It threatened the lives of several individuals, including those from El Tamarindo.

 

“People like María and Juan Martínez are not asking for much, just a safe place to call home and a chance to work the land. The government of Colombia has legal obligations to these people, both to ensure that their rights are respected and protected and to provide redress for the violations they have suffered. Many have suffered repeated forced evictions and displacement; it is time they were provided with a place to settle for good,” said Marcelo Pollack, Colombia Researcher at Amnesty International.

 

María is left dreaming of a place to call home.

 

“To be honest it is like they killed me the way they threw me from my home,” she sighs.


“I just hope that God helps me find a home before I end up in the grave.”

 

* Name changed to protect identity

 

More information:

Read more about El Tamarindo: Colombia: A land title is not enough
https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr23/0031/2014/en/

To find out more about how to send solidarity messages to María and others contact your national Amnesty International office.