29 November 2015

Afrodescendientes succeed in regaining their ancestral lands

BOGOTA – The Afro-Colombian community of Rio Naya has been granted title to approximately 188,000 hectares (725 sq. miles) of land that they historically occupied, the Colombian Rural Development Institute, known as Incoder, said Tuesday.

The awarding of the land, which straddles the boundary between the southwestern provinces of Cauca and Valle del Cauca, finally wraps up a lawsuit filed in 1999 when the more than 16,000 Rio Naya inhabitants presented Incoder with a demand for collective ownership.

The process of awarding title to the territory was achieved thanks to a December 2014 ruling of the Council of State ordering the University of Cauca to turn over the land to Incoder.

“This is the greatest possible move toward recognizing the ethnic, cultural, territorial, social, economic and political rights of the Afro-Colombian population and for strengthening its right to own and occupy the land of its ancestors,” Incoder said.

The Rio Naya community council is made up of 4,551 families distributed among the municipalities of Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca, and Lopez de Micay, Cauca, and currently has 64 villages.

The chief economic activities of this community are mining, hunting and fishing.

The collective land ownership of the black community in the Naya region is “a true act of reconciliation of the country with a forgotten community that has suffered all the hardships of war,” Incoder said.