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| 1/3/2011 12:00:00 AM

Land Reform Could End Colombia's Guerrilla War

January 3--It is no surprise that Sudan, blighted by unceasing years of loud civil war, has the largest population of internally displaced people in the world: perhaps as many as 6 million. But which country has the second? Colombia, right smack in the middle of the western hemisphere, has an estimated 4 million., 233690

The main reason so many Colombians have been uprooted is because, over the past 25 years, cocaine traffickers, paramilitaries and rebels are believed to have taken control of some 13 million acres of land. Sometimes the land was stolen from Colombia's farmers. In some cases, owners were forced to sell out to gangsters at rock-bottom prices. Those who balked were warned that the deals would be closed with their widows. The land was coveted for growing and smuggling narcotics, trafficking arms, consolidating territory in the war and, in some cases, for setting up legal enterprises such as cattle ranches and palm oil plantations. These land grabs have contributed to one of the most lopsided ratios of property distribution in Latin America — and a reason why more than 60% of people living in Colombia's countryside are poor. All that inequity convinced many peasants to join the guerrillas or the paramilitaries in a war already exacerbated by the drug trade.
 
Read more here.

Semana International delivers news about Colombia in English. Find more in our home.





 
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