Territorial conflicts in Tibú and the oil palm expansion, Colombia

By 2012, the first certified plantations were already in place in Tibú, inspite of the negative social and environmental impacts of the oil palm expansion. The Inter-church Justice and Peace Commission has denounce that impacts.


Different conflicts have arisen in Tibú, a town in the Catatumbo region as a response to land expropriations for the development of huge projects and their contaminations ( water pollution and soil erosion).

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Basic Data
NameTerritorial conflicts in Tibú and the oil palm expansion, Colombia
ProvinceNorth Santander
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral ore exploration
Coal extraction and processing
Specific CommoditiesLand
Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsColombia is the 4th largest producer of palm oil in the world. Palm oil plantations occupy around 500,000 ha of the country, and were introduced to substitute coca, but it also replaced rice, maize and cocoa plantations. Yet, Colombian oil is not competitive with Malaysian and Indonesian ones, and 70% of the production is used for national consumption. All the production belonging to Hacienda las Flores is transformed into biofuel.

Palm oil occupied more than 14,000 ha in Tibú in 2012 [4].
Project Area (in hectares)20,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population36,500
Start Date01/01/2001
Company Names or State EnterprisesAsogpados Dos from Colombia
oleoflores from Colombia
Fedepalma from Colombia
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Agriculture

Environmental justice organisations and other supportersASAMCAT (Peasant Association of el Catatumbo)

Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz http://justiciaypazcolombia.com/Comision-Intereclesial-de-Justicia

Grupo de Investigación en Derechos Colectivos y Ambientales (Gidca)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Development of alternative proposals
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Desertification/Drought, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Global warming, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseLand demarcation
New strong claim for a ZRC, peasant reserve area, and opposition to extractive industries.
Development of AlternativesNew strong claim in 2013 for a ZRC,large peasant reserve area, and opposition to extractive industries.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Problems have been ongoing for a long time, and no solution has been implemented besides on paper. The locals situation remains the same, and there have been no significant changes.
Sources and Materials

Law 160 approved in 1994 on peasant reserve areas (ZRC)


[3] Ortega, JM., 2015. Los conflictos culturales en Colombia: Caso Tibú. Universidad de Granada

[1] UNDP, 2014. Catatumbo: Análisi de conflictividades y construcción de paz

[2] Campesinos de Tibú, víctimas del conflict ambiental
[click to view]

[4] Uribe Kaffure, S., 2013. Transformaciones de tenencia y uso de la tierra en zonas del ámbito rural colombiano afectadas por el conflicto armado. El caso de Tibú, Norte de Santander (2000-2010). Estudios Socio-Jurídicos, 16(1), pp.245-287
[click to view]


Catatumbo Colombiano (blog)
[click to view]

Thousands of Protesting Colombian Farmers Request Asylum in Venezuela, Maduro Meets with Santos
[click to view]

Peasants and Miners Strikes Expand from Catatumbo to other Regions
[click to view]

¿Por qué piden zona de reserva campesina en el Catatumbo?
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Las encrucijadas de los pequenos palmeros del Catatumbo
[click to view]

Paramilitarismo y palma en el Catamcumbo
[click to view]

En medio del conflicto el Catatumbo existe y resiste
[click to view]

Colombian farmers face displacement, disappearances and disputes over land
[click to view]

Media Links

Catatumbo Resiste
[click to view]

Other Documents

Source: Agronews Worker in Tibú cutting the fruit of oil palm
[click to view]

Source: Agronews Oil palm expansion in Tibú, Norte de Santander.
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorClàudia Custodio
Last update21/04/2017