President Santos personally introduced to Congress the Law of Victims and Land, which would restore ownership to the estimated 3 million victims—mostly indigenous and Afro-Colombians—who lost about 4.5 million hectares to paramilitary groups, guerrillas and narco-traffickers. Under this law, currently still in draft form, the legal burden would fall on the current title holders who would have to show that they legally acquired the land in question.
However, problems will not be fully solved for impoverished displaced farmers: the accumulated debts on the land claimed by displaced farmers amount to 188 million dollars. And hawk-like investors have seen the opportunity: they agree to take on the debt in exchange for purchasing the land at a low price. So far, peasant farmers have sold 75,000 hectares at an average of 275 dollars per hectare, which are resold by the buyers at 715 dollars per hectare.
Santos’s Law of Victims and Land will also compensate war victims, regardless of who victimized them: the far-right paramilitaries, left-wing guerrillas, or government forces.
The Law of Victims and Land has academics and commentators saying this, really, is the end of the 70-year-conflict. But as Eduardo Pizarro, director of the government Reparations and Reconciliation Commission (and my former professor), pointed out: the restitution of land has been associated with a high level of criminal violence in 1,102 municipalities. And in anticipation, the government is setting aside funds for humanitarian assistance in the case of new acts of violence.
Is the Law of Victims and Land a new cycle of bloodshed? Seems so.