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| 2/22/2011 12:00:00 AM

U.S. aids Colombia program restoring land titles

February 22--The U.S. role in the program for the displaced reflects a shift in Plan Colombia. From the plan's inception in 2000 through 2007, 80% of the $7 billion funneled to Colombia went to the military.

The new face of U.S. aid to Colombia is not a Black Hawk helicopter or a Green Beret trainer but a smiling 77-year-old peasant clutching the deed to a five-acre farm.

This month, Alfonso Mejia received title to the land he had been forced to flee in 2000 by members of a right-wing paramilitary group, just before they massacred 11 of his neighbors.

Mejia and hundreds of other residents expelled from their plots in the northern state of Bolivar were pawns in a struggle among armed groups of various political stripes vying for drug trafficking routes, local influence and land.
 
Mejia spent much of the decade moving from town to town, never daring to reclaim his property, which was illegally transferred to leaders of the paramilitary group by a corrupt notary. His limbo was shared by 3.2 million Colombians displaced by this country's long-running civil conflict.
 
Read more here.

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

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