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Palm Oil Monoculture in the Choco, Colombia


Over the last 5 years in Colombias Choco, a region extremely rich in biodiversity and multiculturalism, oil palm monocultures have been championed in line with the global politics surrounding the production and trade of agro-fuels. Afro and indigenous communities living in the area, particularly the Curvarado and Jiguamiando river basins, are strongly opposed to these monocultures. They have suffered violent invasion of their territories, evictions, threats and killings that have caused a profound change in their traditional means of subsistence. In addition, the establishment of monocultures has led to serious environmental problems, destroying areas with wide biodiversity, contaminating water, polluting soil so that a process of severe desertification is starting.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Palm Oil Monoculture in the Choco, Colombia
State or province:Choco
(municipality or city/town)Curvarado and Jiguarniando
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 :Deforestation
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Specific commodities:Land
Palm oil
Biological resources

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

Hectares are planted with oil palm plantations and 105 lots have been acquired in an area of 5654 hectares.

Project area:25000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:06/2005
Company names or state enterprises:Urapalma S.A from Colombia
Palmas SA from Colombia
Promotora Palmera de Curvarado from Colombia
Palmas de Curvarado from Colombia
Inversiones Fregni Ocho from Colombia
La Tukeka from Colombia
Selva Humeda from Colombia
Asibicon from Colombia
Palmas del Atrato from Colombia
Relevant government actors:Colombian State Council, Environment Ministry, Permanent Peoples Tribunal, Fiscalia
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:ONIC - Colombia, Afro-descendant and Indigenous communities of the Cacarica River Basin - Colombia, CAVIDA - Colombia, World Movement for Tropical Forests, Inter-eclesiastical Commission of Justice and Peace - Colombia, SINALTRAINAL - Colombia, Conondo Resguardo Tami Community, Community of Paimad, Villaconto and El Canton de San Pablo - Colombia, OREWA - Colombia, COCOMACIA - Colombia, Omal Observatory on Multinationals in Latin America, Semillas Group, Human Rights Everywhere, Quibd Diocese, Cenipalma - Research Centre for oil palm, Corpoica - Colombian Corporation for Agricultural Research

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Soil erosion, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Malnutrition, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Institutional changes
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
New legislation
Development of alternatives:They want their land back and in conditions for living there. In 2012 the goverment is still doing a third census of displaced peoples from Curvarad y Jiguamiand.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Although there has been resistance and several favourable court decisions against the the illegitimate tree plantations and the degradation of the land, the Chocos Afro-Descendente communities that were displaced still do not have a place to live, since the land where their homes were are occupied by the Oil Palm plantations.

Sources and Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Law 693/2001

Biodiversity Agenda for 2007

Colombian Constitution

Law 70 in 1993 for the recognition of communal lands of ethnic groups

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Que trae el ALCA? Debate urgente para el pueblo afrocolombiano. CINEP, 2004

Accion colectiva. Estado y etnicidad en el pacifico colombiano. Mauricio Pardo, 2001

Palma aceitera, de la cosmetica al biodiesel. La colonizacion continua. Movimiento por los bosques, 2006

Encendiendo el debate sobre biocombistibles. Elizabeth Bravo. 2007

Problemática ambiental y rural Misión internacional de verificación sobre la situación ocasionada por los agrocombustibles en Colombia: Palma aceitera y caña de azúcar, Revista Semilla No 40/41, 12/03/2009

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

El dossier de los palmeros, El Espectador, 21/05/2010

La palma Africana en Colombia, Ecologista en Accion, June 2005

Monocultivo de palma africana en el Chocó, Colombia, 3/08/2015

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Video documentary: CONTRAVÍA: Cultivos de palma en Chocó, tierras y desplazamiento

Other documents

Palm oil plantation in Choco, David Campuzano

Meta information

Contributor:Lucie Greyl
Last update04/01/2016