LAND DISTRIBUTION: A Strategy to Avert Poverty in Colombia


Over the years of fighting drug traffic, the Colombian government has confiscated extended areas of land to drug dealers that in many cases remain abandoned or unproductive. As mandated by the government those confiscated lands are used as financial resources to benefit the Ministry of Justice and Law. On the other hand, by 2011 “The Victims and Land Restitution Law” signed by president Santos, aimed to return the land to families who have lose their lands because of the armed conflict.

The armed conflict in Colombia is responsible for the internal displacement of thousands of families from rural to urban areas. Displaced population settle mainly around the big cities, which eventually joined to the city. A clear example of the magnitude of the problem is Ciudad Bolivar- Bogotá, one of the largest mega-slums with more than 2 million inhabitants. Poverty is the rule in Ciudad Bolivar. National data shows that 98.6% of displaced population are below the poverty line, and 82.6% of them live in extreme poverty.Ciudad Bolivar- Bogota

Poverty in Colombia is aggravated by the internal displacement due to the armed conflict, but also is related significantly to income inequalities seen in higher proportion among rural populations which migrate to urban settlements in hope of better opportunities. The socioeconomic situation of a high proportion of poor families is directly related to social injustice, and not exclusively to the armed conflict.

Then, paralleling “The Victims and Land Restitution Law” I propose that poor families that are not considered victims of the armed conflict should be beneficiaries of the land confiscated to drug dealers. A land program offering technical support and resources will rescue thousands of families from poverty. According to the World Bank more widespread land access and land ownership would contribute significantly to the economic development in the country.

Ciudad Bolivar- Bogota

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3 Responses to “LAND DISTRIBUTION: A Strategy to Avert Poverty in Colombia”

  1. josemuribe Says:

    The proposal of distributing land confiscated to drug traffickers to poor families is a ambitious proposal worth considering. My concern is that any redistribution of land in Colombia will face many opponents and will be subject to all kind of pressure from interest groups. Poor families will be willing to accept the offer only if they are part of a comprehensive program including legal support and protection in addition to technical assistance. I also wonder if the families will be able to achieve food security and thrive economically in the agriculture sector, when even major producers are facing a dire situation due to the globalization of large scale agriculture.

  2. mgiraldo2014 Says:

    Thanks for your comment Jose. I agree with you, this is an ambitious proposal that will require political will and collaboration from different sectors in the country. Certainly, it is also true that a program like this should assure safety to the beneficiaries, given the long history of armed conflict in Colombia. Additionally, many opponents with diverse interests with intervene actively. At the same time, I truly believe something has to be done- Colombia presents one of the highest concentration of land in the world, and is the second highest in Latin America. It has been demonstrated than this inequality is directly related to rural poverty, causing migration of thousands of people to the urban areas, just to face another hard reality: live in slums with no opportunities and continue in poverty.
    I will not be concern about the opportunities of marketing for small farmers, personally I know some areas in the country, where small farmers are successful in marketing their products locally or regionally and contribute to food security. What should be a concern is still the acquisition of land from powerful groups, as an example, Cargill- the largest commodity trader in the world- acquired 52,000 hectares of land through fragmented purchases, and evading legal restrictions that limit the size purchased by a single owner.
    Poverty in any part of the world, requires ambitious strategies, political will, and involvement of the whole society. I think, It is a matter of social justice.

  3. mgiraldo2014 Says:

    Thanks Jose, for sharing your thoughts. See my reply in other post.

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