January 26, 2018

See the report from PBI Colómbia here: Land, culture and conflict

Land is part of the identity and culture of all communities the world over, and at the same time land lies at the root of many conflicts, because of the varying interests that surround it. We therefore understand that land lies at the center of many of the issues facing the people accompanied by PBI. By telling their stories, we aim to shed light on their struggles and encourage international solidarity to advocate for their protection.

The struggle for land brings a new challenge each day, with communities surrounded by armed actors who seek territorial control to exploit natural resources without restriction. Many communities have been through decades of bureaucracy, pressure, and threats and they are still awaiting the restitution of their lands. PBI accompanies community resistance processes and also lawyers’ collectives and organizations that defend human rights, who represent communities in the defense of their territories.

What unites them all is their love for their land, the connection they feel to their territory and a deep belief in social justice, fairness, and the search for truly peaceful societies. PBI highlights the fundamental work carried out by each person who is dedicated, in one way or another, to the defense of land, territory, and human rights; these are people who face increasingly complex security situations with courage and dignity, all because of the fundamental work they carry out.

This publication is an homage to these individuals and collectives who continue, in spite of everything, to defend nature, their culture and heritage, for future generations. We illustrate the issue of the unequal land ownership and its excessive exploitation in Colombia, with specific examples of people and organizations that we accompany in several regions of the country, highlighting the challenges they face in their work day after day. We contextualize this panorama with examples from other PBI projects in Latin America and in the African continent.

We are convinced that a thorough understanding of the issues surrounding land and territory will guide us in the design and creation of fairer societies, and also inform us on how to develop holistic protection measures for those who defend land, water, and life.