Jungle law – Leopoldo Villar Borda – View

One of the positive effects of peace with the Farc is one that is a discovery for many Colombians and a historical challenge for the national government: the reintroduction of the normal life of territories such as Caquetá, Putumayo, Meta and Guaviare, became reality after the the signing of the Havana agreement and the expulsion by the guerrilla fighters of their jumps in the jungle.

The bad thing is that for that deep Colombia, which for a long time was only called by the armed conflict, new invaders for the state arrived. Some are simple farmers looking for new ways to survive. Others, unscrupulous settlers determined to take advantage of these spaces for illegal mining, livestock, deforestation and other predatory actions of the national ecological heritage.

The destruction of forests is not a new phenomenon, but it has experienced enormous growth and caused alarms in the environmental media. According to Sustainable Week, 170,000 hectares were cut down last year, of which forty per cent in the Amazon. This throws away one of the greatest efforts in our history to protect this immense wealth: the supply of those territories to the indigenous communities that inhabit them, which reached a historic milestone thirty years ago during the government of Virgilio Barco, with the granting of these communities of Putumayo, the largest in the world, and the recognition of the same communities as owners of these and other resguardos totaling sixteen million hectares.

Since then, a lot of water flows under the bridges of Colombia. The 1991 Constitution endorsed the rights of the indigenous people to the reserves as their collective and non-transferable property, and both these and the forest reserves were protected on paper. But in real life the ability to preserve them gradually declined according to the habits and customs of their primitive inhabitants, so that they were preserved for centuries.

After peace with the Farc, it is now necessary to stop the destruction of the forests, because their preservation is essential for humanity's struggle against climate change.

The initiatives to halt the devastation have not been worth much, such as the Vision Amazonia program, which was set up with the cooperation of Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom with the aim of reducing deforestation to zero by 2020. Authorized calculations indicate that in the past fifty years deforestation has destroyed 17 percent of the Amazon vegetation, with the danger that it will no longer be sustainable if the logging reaches 20 percent.

This contrasts with the hope that arose three decades ago when the reserve areas were expanded and the state's commitment to protect them became explicit, not only for the indigenous population, but for all inhabitants of the country and even the planet, Since the preservation of Our forests are essential for the struggle of mankind against climate change.

For all of the above, the decree signed last April by President Juan Manuel Santos is very important, for which he recognized the authority of indigenous organizations over more than 18 million hectares of Amazonas, Guainía and Vaupés where there were no local authorities, and he granted them right to drive them.

This decree and the declaration of the national park of Chiribiquete as world heritage, with its extension protected to more than four million hectares, try to save the enormous natural treasure that José Eustasio Rivera sang so beautifully in La voragine a century ago. And at the same time, guarantee the rights of its inhabitants, whose exploitation and extermination during the rubber storm also denounced the great writer of Huila.

What must now be followed is the effective application of these measures, so that in that wonderful world, which occupies half of Colombia, the new invaders will not take over their law of the jungle.


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