Authors: Monica Hernandez*, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Topics: Latin America, Cultural and Political Ecology, Social Geography
Keywords: Latin America, collective land ownership, land property, natural resources, ethnicity, territory
Session Type: Paper
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Denver, Sheraton, IM Pei Tower, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
Inequity in land ownership distribution has been a historic struggle for Colombians, and it is often described as one of the leading causes of our long-lasting armed conflict. Collective Land Titling (CLT) for Afro-Colombian communities is now seen as a key strategy by which the Colombian state sought to amend this situation, while at the same time re-organizing ethnic communities for a prospective post-conflict future. This paper examines the history and the first phase of implementation of CLT that occurred between 1996 and 2006 as part of a broad public policy of ethnic recognition for Afro Colombian communities. It relies on the analysis of documents of programs and government initiatives as well as interviews with the group of technicians that implemented the legal procedures required to obtain collective titles of ownership. In 2006, this first stage of CLT ended with almost 5 million hectares of land-titled to Afro Colombian communities in the Pacific region. Some of those lands were granted during the hardest moments of the contemporary armed conflict in Colombia. I examine the modification of property regimes that triggered the violence in the region, described previously as a peaceful haven. The paper challenges the idea of collective ownership as an alternative for rural and peri-urban communities. CLT was an achievement for the Afro Colombian social movement, and it reinforced their participation as political actors. However, it simultaneously made them a target for armed actors and vulnerable to the political economy of land markets in Colombia.