The Colombian Institute for Rural Development (Incoder) had given part of the sacred lands of the Kogui to peasants who had been displaced due to the armed conflict. Archive.

In the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is the “heart of the world”, according to the indigenous communities that live there. The Kogui live in this region in the north of the country, a tribe which, thanks to a decision by the Cartagena Land Restitution Court, has recovered 1,636 hectares of land that was in the hands of peasants and settlers.

The Colombian Institute for Rural Development (encoder) ceded part of the sacred lands of the Kogui to peasants who had been displaced by the armed conflict. In dialogue with the magazine ChangeJulio César Guzmán, lawyer for the Land Restitution Unit Ethnic Groupexplained that in the first place the entity issued a resolution to expand the indigenous reserve, but some time later it issued another directive in which part of this land was returned to the victims.

In addition, the sacred lands and the communities that lived there were affected by the armed conflict: first, the guerrillas arrived on these lands stuffing there ELN contesting control of the territory with the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a group that has built mass graves on these lands. Subsequently, the Army and the public force intervened to deter illegal actors, a reason that has generated deforestation and other environmental damage to the flora, fauna and water resources of this area as the main consequence.

On September 26, 2022, the Civil Chamber of the Land Restitution Court issued a decision ordering the extension of the Kogui reserve by 1,636 hectares. For Jose Maria Conchacala Mujicageneral coordinator of the reserve, told the aforementioned media that since 2004 they had been waiting for a court decision of this magnitude that would benefit this community.

The determination of the three magistrates of the Chamber ordered the office of the mayor of Dibulla -la Guajira-, the ministry of the Environment, the office of the governor of La Guajira and Corpoguajira design strategies for the maintenance of the wide river that surrounds these lands.

In addition, he demanded the installation of billboards that explain that these lands are the property of the community. Tugeka Kogi and urged the relevant authorities to devise measures to enable indigenous peoples to repair the environmental damage caused by the cultivation of illicit crops, deforestation and the bombardment by state forces to attack cocaine laboratories established by illegal groups .

Today, although the court decision benefits the natives, it affects the peasants who, from 2005, they were entitled to a piece of land as compensation for the damage suffered in the midst of the internal conflict. Currently, several of them have crops of coffee, avocado, coconut, among other fruits, delivered to their plots.

In this part of Guajira, tertiary roads have already been built, which is why this decision raises concerns about the future of these dwellings and their inhabitants. However, There is Lalleman and Abramuckone of the magistrates who created the decision, clarified to this magazine that indigenous lands should be respected for the natives, but the peasants should be compensated.

“What they tried to do was make a decision of fairness that respects the right of indigenous peoples to their territory. The territory of indigenous peoples is not just the land and that is what must be understood,” he said. Change The togada He also clarified that it is not about ceding the land itself, but that there is a question of preserving the cultures and ancestral traditions behind it. On the other hand, the rights of the peasants rewarded with these lands cannot be affected.

While this attempt to conquer the territory continues, slowly, although with moments of tension, several illegal armed groups continue to be present in this region. The Triad for the Land is made up of the peasant victims who refuse to leave these fertile lands and the Kogui who want to continue to support their communities in the midst of the sacred lands, despite all the damage caused by both the internal war and the vagueness of the the encoder.

Categorized in: