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Colombia: Land occupations raise tensions and scare off investors

In parts of Colombia, land occupations have increased since the election of president Gustavo Petro, who has promised to spend tens of billions of dollars to ensure small-scale farmers and indigenous groups have access to more land. These indigenous communities - many disenchanted by years of unmet government promises - have long histories of occupations, which they call ‘liberations’.

However, recent occupations are also undertaken by impoverished farmers, many of whom have interpreted Petro's promises as permission to carry them out, despite his insistence reforms will take place according to law.

The occupations threaten investment, business people claim. For instance, an investment fund from the Middle East has put the brakes on plans to invest $10 million in an avocado farm because of the occupations.

There has also been sharp criticism from Petro's opposition in congress. There are currently 108 land occupations in Colombia, affecting one third of its provinces. The government rejects occupations and says both landowners and occupiers must respect the rule of law.


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