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On Wednesday, over 1,300 people and 522 civil society organizations participated in the Forum of Policies on Integral Agrarian Reform in Bogota. The forum was organized by the National University of Colombia and the United Nations Office in Colombia, at the request of the Negotiations Table between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
A broad group of African, indigenous groups and organizations resisting displacement and energy and mining megaprojects in Colombia, submitted a document to the Forum, where representatives of political parties and corporations also participated, except for the Colombian livestock sector, who refused to attend.
The Declaration submitted by the organizations has the unified proposals that cameo ut of the forum and call for a big meeting for Territory and Agrarian Reform. The declaration will be submitted to the Board in Havana.
The forum also decided to carry out a national demonstration to demand rights and to defend the proposals.
The organizations working together on their proposals included: Mesa Nacional de Unidad Agraria, OrganizaciónNacionalIndígena de Colombia, the Colombian African descendents, Movimiento Colombiano por la Defensa de los Territorios y Afectados por Represas, Ríos Vivos, Asociación de Afectados por el Proyecto Hidroeléctrico el Quimbo – ASOQUIMBO, Asociación Nacional de Usuarios Campesinos –ANUC and SINTRA CATORCE.
Some of the agreements reached at the forum include access to land for the Colombian rural population (prioritizing rural women and rural workers). They highlighted the need to declare that “the water ecosystems are undeniable and that water is a fundamental right and a public good and it should not be commodified”.
At the same time it is necessary to have a land planning that respects the rural and ethnic communities based on potential use, by changing the current use from cattle farming to agriculture and environmental conservation (at least 11 million of the 37 million hectares of land destined to cattle farming should go to agriculture production).
There was a clear rejection to the mining concession policies, while they demanded the “suspension of mining licenses in collective lands and environmental areas of peasant and ethnic production as well as the immediate termination of the environmental licenses of all mining projects that have caused serious economic, social and environmental damage and to refrain from granting new licenses”.
In another section of the document there is a declaration of indigenous, peasant, African descendant producers that includes the free circulation and exchange of seeds as part of the Colombian state’s public interest.
They also demand to guarantee the restitution of lands to the victims of displacement, as well as the defense and recognition of Mother Earth rights, ecosystems and water basins.
They have also suggested to put a limit to the concentration of land and to land grabbing through foreign investment by corporations or States that “fail to respect the right to prior and informed consultation”.
The organizations involved in the agreement also invite “all the political, economic and social sectors to build a big national agreement that supports the progress in the negotiation of the armed conflict and in building the agenda for an integral peace”.
The agenda on the territories related to communities and their autonomy is key in the dialogues that are taking place in Havana between the insurgent forces and representatives of Juan Manuel Santos administration.
However, the recent Forum was showed that other voices should participate in these talks.
“No queremos ser mártires, no queremos que hayan más mártires en este país, pero también hay una responsabilidad histórica de hacer valer la palabra y demostrar que tenemos derecho a la construcción de un mundo mejor. Y no podemos huir a esa responsabilidad”, dijo a Radio Mundo Real la dirigente garífuna Miriam Miranda, coordinadora de la Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH).
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