`The despoliation of the land is spreading itself, (while) foreign investments, such as the mining industy and the African palm culture, are strenghtening. The growth of these industries is directly related to the forced displacements of local populations. Approximately 32% of the 280 000 displaced people who registered in Columbia in 2010, were likely coming from zones where these two economic activities have progressed significantly.' Jorge Rojas, director of the Human Rights and Displacements Counsel.
The PASC has been accompanying the Jiguamiando and the Curvadaro communities (Choco department) , which have suffered from forced displacements. They are currently attempting to reclaim their collective territory in spite of the illegal invasion of African palm cultures.
Here, we are introducing the case of the Las Pavas community. Intensive African palm kernel cultures are now taking over the territory. These cultures belong to the multinational Daboon which markets itself as the international leader in the production of organic agricultural products. Daboon products are certified by Ecocert. During an awareness tour in Europe in the summer of 2010, members of the Las Pavas community discussed with Ecocert representant and 'expert' on Columbian matters, Jean-Claude Pons, hoping to convince Ecocert to withdraw Daabon its certification. Community members explained that the 'organic' multinational had purchased the land from a paramilitary who had organized the community's forced displacement. M. Pons responded that this did not constitute solid grounds to question Deebon's certification with regards to the conflict generated by this issue. M. Pons argued that as long as this issue will not have been aknowledged by any judiciary or administrative authority, he will deem this conflict unexistant. Ecocert judges that Daabon respects the required conditions. Ecocert excludes from the analysis of Daabon's certification the matter of the multinational's responsability in the severe conflict opposing the community to the paramilitary officer who is responsible for the population's displacement. However, while it is juristically impossible to confirm the mutlinational's direct responsability in the forced mass displacement, it has to be held responsible for peasants' loss of their land as it continues to occupy the terrority and hinders the families from returning home. As a response to the critics of the members of the community, M. Jean Claude Pons affirmed, on a vehement tone, that the best solution consisted in letting the multinational Daabon carry on with its activities and that the peasant should accept the negotation propositions which Daabon was presenting them. If the villagers and the accompanying organizations were to continue their claims they would be held responsible for the loss of employment of many laborers who depend on Daabon!
This is a loud confirmation of what we already knew – organic certification is just another lucrative business activity in which ethic has been put in the back drawer. Actually, Ecocert president William Vidal, explains this well:
'Today, there is 2% of organic products consumption. What if tomorrow it increased at 15% – will the small producers be able to provide enough goods to the market? Why not democratize the organic market to certain stratas of the population and import volumes at lower prices? It is true that the social aspect of it is not taken into account by European regulations. However, as authentificators we cannot introduce any extra criteria by ourselves as our role is to not have any moods, otherwise we would be accused of discrimination and lose our accrediation.
APRIL 2011: Las Pavas Community returns to its land which is being occupied by Daabon's palm plantations.
Excert from 'Las Pavas : a high risk return' Blog Columbia avenue.
Each day that passes by Daabon scores a point against the Las Pavas peasant community whom aspires to return to their land after a 3 year forced displacement and nothing to eat. Of course, the African palm kernel laborers do not see it in this manner and they possess the means to recall positive memories of President Santos. Right after his ascension to power, President Santos thanked Daabon by providing it with a Minister and by assigning their neighbour, and only other palm kernel producer in the region, an important pro-export position. Hence, no jealousy, or at least not too much. Therefore, it is alright to give back the land to the despoliated peasants, but not all of it and not to do just about anything with it. Las Pavas poses a tremendous problem to the Columbia governement which needs to content everybody. After announcing it for months, Las Pavas peasants have decided to act and return to their lands. A deeply thought out action and definitely necessary, but highly risky. This is why it is important to accompany them and denouce those who hold out the prospect of the organic and ecological qualities of African palm kernel. Below, we have reproduced part of the latest press release from Las Pavas.