In a new attempt of displacement against the farmers and displaced communities of Arauca, coordinated by the petroleum transnational, the communities, who resettled 16 months ago, maintain a strong resistance. This new displacement intent was suspended until geographical data determines if the lands are located in Arauca’s municipality or Arauquita’s.
The north-American company, Occidental of Colombia, presented a complaint to Arauca’s Mayor, in the North-east of Colombia. The complaint aims at displacing a group of farming families, which have been occupying their lands for the past 16 months. According to the OXY, they are located in the municipality of Arauca.
On February 26th, a group of journalists, including the co-coordinator of Colombia Informa, accompanied the Secretary of the Planning Office of Arauca, a topographer and the lawyer who represents the communities to the oil field of Cano Limon, where the families are located. At the entrance of the field, the Army blocked the public agents and the press, arguing that it was for security reasons. Nevertheless, the Secretary of the Planning Office, managed to convince the military to let the lawyers that defended the community and the media that was covering the event, pass.
At first, Arauca’s police inspector, would not permit any intervention of the Secretary of the Planning Office or the topographer. The inspector had brought a topographer that had been contracted on February 25th. According to various individuals attending the event, this topographer had a GPS that belonged to the El Alcaravan Foundation, a foundation that belongs to the OXY. The inspector insisted that she would only consider the technical data of the topographer that accompanied her. The topography data is of great importance considering that it would define if the farmers were under Arauca’s municipality’s jurisdiction or Arauquita’s. In the first case, the inspector would have proceeded to allowing the forced displacement, requiring the intervention of public forces.
On the other hand, the farmers consider that there is no guarantee that the verification process be held in a transparent way. Therefore, they proceeded to blocking the way to the topographer contracted by the inspector. The police reacted by sending the riot police- ESMAD. As a result, there was confrontation in which the ESMAD attacked the farmers, who decided to defend themselves.
This situation enabled that the revision be held by both topographers in conjunction. According to different denunciations by individuals assisting to the event, members of the OXY were influencing the police inspector’s work. In the audience, members of the Corporinoquia and representative of the Family Well-Being were present.
Despite de revision process, it was impossible to determine if the communities were in Arauca’s territory or Arauquita’s. Therefore, the lawyer representing the Ombudsman demanded that the audience be suspended until the Agustin Codazzi Geography Institute certifies the coordinates of the farmer’s lands. She also demanded that the City halls of Arauca and Arauquita be the ones to determine the delimitation of the territory. In addition, the Ombudsman demanded that a technical analysis be done with precise coordination and that the Agustin Codazzi Institute use a precision GPS which is more precise in determining the data, instead of a navigation GPS, which presents more imprecisions.
With the impossibility to determine precisely with technical data the delimitation between Arauca and Arauquita, and therefore, the location of the farmers, the audience was suspended until the Ombudsman requirements be complete. For the group of farmers, this postponing enables them to gain some time and prepare their legal defense against the OXY and its intentions of displacement.
This group of farmers was displaced from their lands 20 years ago and the families were never reubicated. In 2011, the Superior Tribunal of Cundinamarca gave a judgment in favor of the displaces and dispossessed families, ordering that that Colombian institute for Rural Development –INCODER- respect their rights and relocate de families.