, VI Conference of BRICS Initiative of Critical Agrarian Studies

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Armed conflict, the agrarian question and rural development in Colombia: An introductory view
Nathalia Valderrama, Fabiano Escher, Sergio Schneider

Last modified: 2018-12-14


The agrarian question has been the main cause of the armed conflict in Colombia for more than six decades. The armed conflict has weakened the social tissue of rural populations, leading to a land concentration and increased poverty in rural and urban areas. Currently, the returning of displaced communities to their territories requires guarantees of non-repetition of violent events to prevent these populations from being victimized again. Marginal and failed strategies for agrarian reform have been led since the early 1960s. Some traditional political parties and the federations have obstructed and co-opted the weak attempts of an agrarian reform, even when it was supposed to be carried out through the land market. The agrarian question and rural development dynamics present challenges associated with the manifestation of producers’ uncertainty facing the crisis of the rural society. As result in recent years, the continuous social manifestation could be the reflection of a failed rural development model and the nefarious social and environmental consequences of the current crisis regarding the perception of unsustainability of the hegemonic agrifood system and globalization. Capital accumulation, deterritorialization, commodification and territorial sovereignty loss are the results of multidimensional structural changes and the emergence and transformation of power relations within a context of neoliberal globalization and the current wave of “global land grabbing”. If the State recognizes the conflicts of interest between social groups with different articulation and engagement capacities, so it can provide the guarantees for social participation, negotiation and respect to the rights of all citizens. The focus should be on the power settings and not only on the right settings, establishing the principles for an effective control over the land resources. In Colombia, the State actions have been unable to adequately mediate the prolonged conflict situation. However, the State’s position for not having the intention of generating a change in the development model generates uncertainty. There is a high probability of the neoliberal model being intensified and the peace agreements being co-opted and instrumented in favor of the agro-export model in detriment of the local dynamics that emerge from the rural communities. The main objective of the study is to analyse the process of land grabbing in Colombia, investigating the controversies around the different perspectives on the rural development model. Initially, the historical evolution of the agrarian conflicts in Colombia will be summarized. Subsequently, the context of the political conflicts around the land grabbing mechanisms and the role of the State and Society after the signing of the peace agreement will be presented.


State-market-society nexus; actors and institutions; political conflicts; land grabbing.

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