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On July 8th 2013, the community of Pitalito received an eviction order issued by the mayor of Chimichagua, Amauri Villareal Tordecilla. The eviction concerns the families who returned to their land on May 21st 2013, less than two months ago. As it stands, police or military forces could arrive at any moment to execute the order.

The order was issued at the behest of Juan Manuel Fernandez de Castro del Castillo, a large landowner and oil palm plantation owner. Municipal authorities accepted the “evidence provided by de Castro at face value, without hearing the other side of the argument. No one from Pitalito was given an opportunity to defend the community. The mayor’s determination evict the community violates the right of return that is normally afforded to persons displaced by conflict. Read more after the jump or click here to sign the petition.

The residents of Pitalito were evicted once by paramilitaries in 2001 and again in 2010 by the military proper after they had attempted to return the first time. Since May 2013, the families have replanted their crops and rebuilt their homes, even a community centre. Some families fear returning because defenders of the land, particularly those struggling to reclaim land usurped by landlords (such as de Castro) and their paramilitary allies, are the number one target for assassination.

This video, in Spanish, by Peace Brigades International shows how the community settled in about a month ago. The hope and ambition expressed in the clip might now all be for nothing. (Story continues below video)

Municipal authorities, it appears, are allied with the landlords. The municipal public attorney of neighbouring Curumani, Mauricio Ríos, refused to guarantee the physical safety of the residents of Pitolito, in direct contravention of procedure set out by the national Rural Development Institute (INCODER). The municipal public attorney of Chimichagua, on the other hand, has supported de Castro’s claims from the get go. This all casts even more doubt on the feasibility of 2011’s Ley de Víctimas, a law that’s supposed to find some reparation and compensation for people displaced by the conflict, including restitution of the land itself. Cases like this indeed confirm fears that the Ley de Víctimas is just a sham.

The Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE) has urged national and international allies to express their support and sign on to a letter condemning the evection.

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