The argument of this paper is that in order to succeed in the process of land restitution the Colombian government must overcome the adverse conditions that both the inequitable agrarian structure and the widespread presence of paramilitary groups have generated for poor peasants’ livelihoods. In the previous chapters I have provided some arguments about how those factors have shaped an unfavorable institutional landscape for the land restitution process. This chapter aims to stress the interrelation of those factors, and accordingly providing some proposals that may contribute in implementing the law.
The inequitable agrarian structure and the paramilitary phenomenon
The agrarian structure and the paramilitary phenomenon are two intertwined elements. They are part of the mediating processes both internal and external that have affected people’s access to resources and the construction of livelihood strategies in particular rural contexts (Ellis, 2000). Since social actors have a differential capacity to influence the processes to access capitals therefore better off people may exclude others from access to resources (Haan and Zoomers, 2005). Following this argument it is evident that in the Colombian countryside those with the capacity to control state’s policies as well as the local social arrangements have established a social closure strategy in which the poor have been systematically excluded from opportunities to improve their livelihoods.
In particular, the contradictory nature of land policies has consolidated an exclusionary agrarian structure that constrains poor peasants’ life conditions. This is evident through the numerous attempts and counter-attempts to broaden...
... middle of paper ...
...venties and eighties the pressure exerted by urban middle sectors, leftist political parties, workers and peasants organizations and guerrilla groups as well as the political changes brought about by the decentralization and the political opening processes threatened the dominant position of landed elites in several regions. For this reason, the creation of paramilitary armies in the early eighties was the violent reaction of a landed elites group, whose power was declining, to the endogenous and exogenous factors that challenged their hegemony. Therefore, the paramilitary phenomenon must be understood as a reactionary extension of the latifundio structure. Its aim was to reestablish the rural social order through the annihilation of latifundio’s rivals in the competition for the control of the regional resources (land, local government, and means of violence).
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