Colombia’s 2011 Victims’ and Land Restitution Law (the Victims’ Law) seeks to restore hundreds of thousands of hectares of land to displaced conflict victims. Forced displacement in Colombia has largely been understood through a focus on violent land-grabbing dynamics, through which armed actors (typically paramilitary forces) displaced rural populations to use the stolen land for large capitalist ventures. Through a focus on land restitution in Colombia’s Magdalena Medio region, I detail the precise legal measures used to prosecute these legacies of land grabbing, as well as the controversy arising when those powerful legal measures are trained on relatively small, good faith owners of once-dispossessed land. This article examines land restitution as an important means of undoing violent patterns of land concentration, yet cautions against presupposing that all patterns of violent displacement can be understood through a land-grabbing analytic. Those who come to own land in the wake of conflict may have directly used violent means or, contrarily, have acquired land without direct or indirect recourse to violence. How land restitution programs detect and manage these distinctions bears upon post-conflict legal land regimes’ precarious capacity to either ameliorate, or potentially exacerbate, violent legacies of forced displacement.


La Ley de Víctimas y Restitución de Tierras del 2011 pretende restituir miles de hectáreas a poblaciones colombianas desplazadas y despojadas a causa del conflicto armado. El desplazamiento forzado en Colombia se suele analizar a través de una analítica de acaparamiento de tierras (land grabbing). El análisis actual se centra en el proceso de restitución de tierras en el Magdalena Medio colombiano para destacar las ventajas, pero también límites, de los mecanismos legales para revertir procesos de acaparamiento de tierras. El articulo señala la necesidad de ir mas allá de una analítica de acaparamiento de tierras para reconocer que no todos los que se quedaron con la tierra después del conflicto armado pertenecen a grupos armados o a las empresas favorecidas por ellos. La capacidad que programas de restitución tienen para distinguir entre los que usaron violencia para acumular tierra reclamada y los que no es clave para que estos procesos alivien en vez de agravar legados del desplazamiento forzado.


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pp. 169-192
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