Land is at the root of many violent conflicts and wars around the world. In addition to fighting over land and related natural resources, rural landholding systems often sustain patterns of inequality and widespread rural poverty that generate conflict. This event co-sponsored by the U.S. Institute of Peace and the InterAmerica Foundation will examine the challenges of land tenure and the efforts at land reform in Colombia and Bolivia--two Latin American countries where the gap between the rich and poor is  among the greatest in the world.

Land is at the root of many violent conflicts and wars around the world. In addition to fighting over land and related natural resources, rural landholding systems often sustain patterns of gross inequality and widespread rural poverty that generate conflict. Land concentration, displacement, and the denial of land rights contribute further to patterns of political exclusion and disenfranchisement. Highly concentrated landholdings often significantly shape patterns of inequitable rural development. On the other hand, peace practitioners and development specialists agree on the potential role of broad-based rural development and land reform as stabilizing elements for polarized or conflicted societies. This event will examine recent patterns of land tenure and land reform in Colombia and Bolivia--two Latin American countries where the gap between the rich and poor has historically been most severe.

The morning panel from 9:00am-10:30am will examine the contemporary historic context that gave rise to current inequities in Colombia and Bolivia (particularly in the Santa Cruz region). A subsequent panel from 10:45am-12:15pm will analyze the land reform initiatives and other efforts by Colombian and Bolivian governments, international aid agencies, and nongovernmental organizations to address these inequities, and will evaluate lessons that might be drawn from these experiences. A luncheon will feature a keynote address by Representative Henry Johnson (D-GA), who has been a leader in the U.S. Congress on behalf of Colombia’s displaced populations. The luncheon will have limited seating and RSVPs are required.

Speakers

  • Representative Henry Johnson, Lunchtime Keynote Speaker
    U.S. House of Representatives
  • Absalón Machado
    Universidad Nacional, Colombia
    Topic: "Land Tenure, Land Reform, and Conflict in Colombia"
  • Alcides Vadillo
    Fundación Tierra, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
    Topic: "Land Tenure and Rural Development in Bolivia’s Santa Cruz Region: A Recent History of Inequality"
  • Gonzalo Colque
    Fundación Tierra, La Paz, Bolivia
    Topic: "Land Reform Policies and Issues under Evo Morales (2005-2009)"
  • Ricardo Vargas
    Acción Andina Colombia
    Topic: "Dynamics of Illicit Crop Expansion and Its Impact on Land Rights, Conflict, and Reform in Colombia"
  • Forrest Hilton
    Universidad de los Andes, Colombia
    Topic: "Land Reform in Bolivia and Colombia in Comparative Perspective"
  • Yamilé Salinas Abdala
    INDEPAZ (Colombian Institute for Development and Peace Studies)
    Topic: “The Impact of New Development Models on Land Distribution and Land Rights in Colombia”
  • Virginia M. Bouvier, Moderator
    U.S. Institute of Peace
  • Kevin Healy, Moderator
    Inter-American Foundation

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