Forced Displacement, Concentration of Land Property, and the Rentier Political Economy in Colombia



Civil wars are violent contestations of political power and the control of resources. In addition to producing winners and losers and destroying property and infrastructure, civil wars can produce or reinforce social, demographic, and economic changes with long-lasting effects. This article describes three interdependent socioeconomic and demographic processes created by or reinforced during the fifty-one year-old war system that has racked Colombia:[1]

  1. A rentier political economy in the rural areas, a central feature of which is land price speculation.[2]
  2. The displacement of more than 2 million people between 1946 and 1958, and close to 6 million people between 1985 and 2014.
  3. Increased concentration of landownership by the landed elite.

The dynamic interplay between these processes characterizes the political economy shaped in part by two respective civil wars: 1946-1958 and 1964-present.

The first section of this article presents a brief history contextualizing the process of displacement, dispossession, and accumulation from colonial times. The second section tackles the displacement and property holding lost during the 1946-1958 civil war referred to as La Violencia, which ushered in the beginning of the expansion trend of the cattle ranching. The third section explores the relationship between displacement and the increase concentration of land properties. It also discusses the development and consolidation of a rentier speculative economy that has become a defining feature of the rural political economy. Finally, the last section draws a conclusion touching upon the prospects of a durable peace in light of the high concentration of land property and wealth.

Historical Context

The processes of capitalist development and accumulation are characterized by appropriation of land property and periodic crises. In medieval Europe, the end stage of the feudal order was accompanied by the incremental dispossession of peasants, whose property was taken over by the landed elite—a process replicated in European colonies.

The political economy of Spanish America, for example, has been predicated on peasants’ exploitation, and land dispossession and appropriation has marked its political economy for over five centuries. Relations of production, such as encomienda, mita, mayorazgo, repartimiento, and in the post-independence period, sharecropping, or aparceros, became dominant modes of surplus accumulation and exploitation.[3] These relations of production contributed to the creation of a landholding elite, which over time controlled most of the rural lands in Latin America and thus most of the national wealth of individual nations, with long lasting consequences.[4] The struggle over land ownership between groups that sought to break monopoly holdings and those that defended them was a root cause of civil wars in the nineteenth century across Latin America. In Colombia, the landed elite was successful in overcoming all attempts to break its monopoly. In the late nineteenth century, Colombia’s urban commercial elite faced the challenge alone, but in the early decades of the twentieth century, it formed an alliance with the nascent industrial-merchant bourgeoisie. For more than a century, armed groups fought unsuccessfully to demand more equitable land ownership and access to land, including public lands, or baldios. The monopoly over landownership was virtually unbroken until the twenty-first century. One of the most enduring consequences of the concentration of land properties has been the creation of one of the most skewed distribution of wealth in the world.

In Colombia, according to French economist Thomas Picketty, the top centile’s share stood at 20 percent of national income throughout 1990-2010.[5] Furthermore, Picketty contends that the levels of inequality in Colombia are higher than that of United States for the same period if capital gains are discounted.[6] What explains this high concentration of wealth is that 11,000 landowners succeeded in accumulating 67 percent of the most fertile land, while the remaining 38 percent of the land went to some 11 million people.[7] This accumulation of land holdings by a small elite arose through dispossession and forceful displacement of millions, a historical process originating during colonial times that has continued with changes and mutations ever since. However, it is worth considering that alongside the landed elite, other actors have increasingly joined the fray, such as multinational corporations, speculators, sovereign funds, and financial institutions.[8] These aforementioned factors are shaping land tenure systems, land use and prices, food production, and security. Displacement and dispossession of millions of peasants in the Global South have become crucial features of globalized finance capital.[9]

Of course, this is no consolation to Colombia. In 2013, it was second only to Syria in terms of the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs), which amounted close to 6 million.[10] This expansive process has been violent, accompanied by massacres and public displays of atrocities, rape, beheadings, and executions, designed to create terror among the peasant communities. The forced displacement is unrelenting and persisting; according to a United Nations figure, on average, 15,000 people are forcefully displaced per month.[11] The following section explains the first phase of displacement that started in 1946 with the triumph of the Conservative Party in the presidential election of that year.

La Violencia (1946-1958)

Prior to the emergence of the insurgency in the 1960s, historians emphasized the bitter competition between the two traditional parties that dominated Colombia’s political system since the country’s independence. This competition has led to a series of civil wars that ended without the development of an institutional mechanism to secure the interests of the different factions of the ruling elite. This was so until the 1946-1958 conflict referred to as La Violencia, which culminated with a settlement the National Front, which was the institution engineered to guarantee an equal representation of both political parties and a rotational presidency until 1974.

During the period of La Violencia, forced displacement and dispossession of peasants took place, generating the massive exodus of people to new areas of colonization in the south in departments such as Meta, Caquetá, Putumayo, and Guaviare. As Table 1 illustrates, the largest number of displaced people expelled were from the department of Cauca, followed by Tolima and Antioquia departments.

Table 1. People Displaced and Landholdings Lost During La Violencia

Screenshot 2015-04-20 09.09.21

Source: Richani (2012).

 The number of displaced civilians during La Violencia, as the figures in Table 1 reveal, were approximately 700,000 displaced from only three departments that represented 6 percent of the country’s total population in the 1950s—which was then close to 12 million people. During this same period, the total number of people forcefully displaced was 2,003,600, or 16 percent, of the country’s population in 1950.[12] This profound demographic shift of predominantly small and poor peasants generated all sorts of socioeconomic and cultural dislocations and tensions that came to haunt the country. These new settlements, or colonies, became hotbeds of resistance against the state and large landowners. Clearly the magnitude of violent dislodging of the rural population has been a continuous process in the country’s history since the 1940s, as the following section will show.

La Violencia most affected the Andean region of the country. In contrast, on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, cattle ranching activity predominated and has expanded since the 1950s.[13] Nonetheless, the expansion of the latifundios exacerbated land conflicts in departments such as Cesar, Bolivar, Sucre, and Córdoba increasingly limiting land access to landless and poor peasants, which created the favorable conditions for the militant challengers that emerged in the 1960s.[14]

The Civil War 1964- Present: Displacement and the Rentier Economy

The creation of the National Front constitution in 1958 provided the appropriate inclusive mechanism for the competing members of the dominant elites of the Conservative and Liberal parties. But the National Front excluded every one else. In retrospect, this limited institutional inclusive arrangement created the elements of its own destruction. Two guerrilla groups, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), founded in 1964, and the National Liberation Army (ELN), founded in 1964, launched a challenge to the system and ushered in the most protracted civil war in Latin American history. These groups were soon joined by the Popular Liberation Army and the M-19 Movement, among many others. These armed political expressions exposed the limitations of a closed political system exacerbated by an economic system that increased economic inequalities, rural-urban disparities, and importantly, land conflicts. Over the years, some of these movements have demobilized, but two remain active: the FARC and ELN.

No accurate figures for internal displacement are available for the years 1966-1984, possibly because forced displacement did not occur during this period. What is noteworthy, however, was the expansion into cattle ranching facilitated by the government easing of credit, as well as land laws such as Law 100 of 1944, Law 135 in 1961, Law 1a of 1968, and Law 4a of 1973. These laws provided legal protection for underused or inefficiently used land by large cattle ranchers.[15]

The expansion of large-scale cattle ranching in the Caribbean region—which comprises the departments of Bolivar, Córdoba, Cesar, La Guajira, Magdalena, and Sucre—was tacitly supported through government policies such as easing of credit, subsidies, and low taxation on land properties and cattle.[16] The logic of capitalist expansion and the infusion of new capital created a demand for land in an already inelastic monopolized market. This generated a conflict dynamic between ranchers and the small landed peasants and landless peasants (colonos) who occupied public lands (baldios). In the absence of effective institutional mechanisms capable of mediating, arbitrating, or adjudicating land disputes between large landowners and the peasantry, violence was inevitable. Since the 1980s, land conflicts have been exacerbated by the rise and expansion of the illicit crops of cannabis and coca.[17] The proceeds of marijuana and cocaine have largely been invested in land, and primarily in cattle ranching.[18]

The emerging narcobourgeoisie opted to buy land because it offered an easier mechanism of money laundering than investing in other economic activity in urban centers where the state’s oversight and control were stronger.[19] Land registration and title transfer were easy to obtain, thanks to corruption, intimidation, and fraud.[20] The use of land purchases for money laundering served dual purposes: a) it provided immediate legalization of narcodollars—the proceeds of narcotrafficking; and b) it created a greater demand for land, which increased its resale value. Cattle ranching and the lax laws covering this activity made land purchases a preferred investment given the expected low risk, low tax, and high resale value. In rural areas, land has increasingly been purchased for speculation rather than economic activity, such as agricultural food production.[21] Although, land has been apportioned to agribusiness—such as for African palm oil, flowers, soya, and sugar cane production—and for the extraction of raw materials, speculation retains a lion’s share in the emerging rural political economy.[22] The consequence of competition for land access by contending sources of capital in an inelastic monopolized land market is increasing transgressions against the communal land of Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities in the Chocó, Valle del Cauca, and public lands in other parts of Colombia.

It can be argued that narcotraffickers merely capitalized on an opportunity offered by land laws, low taxes, and lax state oversight. While this was initially true, they went so far as to create private armies to protect the appropriation and expansion of cattle ranching, which benefited the landed oligarchy exclusively. The landed elite has organic ties with paramilitaries and a marriage of convenience with the narcobourgoisie. Graph 1 depicts the massive forced displacement that peaked in the early 2000s following the creation in 1997 of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a national umbrella from the different private armies. Since then, the expansion of paramilitaries coincided with the massive expulsion of peasants coupled with the continuous expansion of large cattle ranching. Consequently one notes that large scale cattle ranching activity and land dedicated to pasture rose steadily over several decades: from 12.1 million hectares in 1950 to 17.5 million by 1970, 20.5 million in 1978, 40.1 million in 1987, and 41.2 million hectares in 1999.[23]

The largest expansion in cattle ranching was between 1978 and 1987, which suggests four things: First, at face value, this economic activity is not the most profitable if the speculated value of land is discounted. Secondly, this expansion overlapped with the advent of narcolaundering investments, but not with the expansion of paramilitary groups. Thirdly, owners of legal and illegal capital were both part of this process since it started in 1950s, continuing it in the following decades. Lastly, owners of illegal capital (i.e., the proceeds of narcotrafficking) are junior partners; it is estimated that the narcobourgeoisie owns about 6 million hectares of land, which means that the vast majority of the holdings in question are owned by other members of the landed oligarchy.[24]

The exponential expansion of land devoted to cattle ranching, including in areas not suitable for such activity, occurred at the expense of food production and consolidated the speculative rentier aspect of the rural political economy. Buying land was motivated by a number of factors including the expectation of profiting from its price increase, leveraging it to hedge from other investments risks, and using it to avoid taxation. This increase in land dedicated to cattle ranching explains why land dedicated to food production declined from 4.6 million hectares in 1987 to 3.9 million hectares in 1999, and even further to 3.7 million hectares in 2004.[25] This represents about 17.25 percent of the total agrarian land (21.5 million hectares). Furthermore, this decline in areas of food production is also largely explained by the simultaneous forced displacement of the peasants during the same period (1987-1999). Garay noted that on the Caribbean coast alone, small producers of traditional food crops such plantain, yucca, and corn were forced to abandon 425,031 hectares, representing 38 percent of the total usurped cultivated lands, which amounted 1,118,401 hectares between 1997 and 2008.[26]

The increasing dominance of the speculative-rentier economy in the rural areas has redefined land use from productive activity to speculation. Cattle ranching was used as a cover to avoid prosecution and/or taxation for underused or idle land. Keeping a few cows enabled wealthy landowners to avoid legal action by the state.

Forced Displacement and Concentration of Land Ownership

From 1985 to the present, close to 6 million people were displaced and between 6 and 8 million hectares of land were appropriated by illegal and violent means.[27] This area is more than double the amount currently used for food production, which is estimated to be 3.7 million hectares and decreasing. As expected, this massive process of dispossession increased the land concentration measured by the coefficient Gini index of land property.[28]

There is ample evidence of a strong correlation between forced displacement and the consolidation of land ownership between 1984 and the late 1990s. A leading agricultural expert, Absalon Machado, suggested two contradictory, but mutually reinforcing, processes: a) an increase in small property fragmentation chiefly precipitated by inheritance in which 90 percent of land owners have 21.4 of the properties, while b) only 1.33 percent of large properties occupy 50 percent of rural areas.[29]

Graph 1. Trends in IDP 1985-2012

Screenshot 2015-04-20 09.09.57Source: Rojas Andrade and Hurtado, 2.

Another study establishes a strong correlation between forced internal displacement and a concentration of properties in the areas of banana plantations and that of Urabá. The correlation coefficients were in the order of 0.64 and 0.46 respectively. The same strong correlation is noted also in the Middle Magdalena and areas of the Central Andes, Meta, Cauca, and Valle del Cauca.[30] In this latter department, which has been an epicenter of violent confrontation and narcotrafficking during the last three decades, the Gini index of concentration of land property reached 0.82 by the 2000s, ranking third after Meta and Cauca where the Gini index was of 0.84 and 0.86 respectively. As a result by 2010, 11,000 landowners have succeeded in accumulating 67 percent the most fertile land while 11 million have the remaining 38 percent of the land.[31] In the same vein, Ibanez contended that the GINI for the concentration of landholdings increased between 2000 and 2009 from 0.86 to 0.88 in 56.5 percent of the municipalities, most of which were theaters of violent displacement.[32]

Table 2. Number of Internally Displaced People 1997-2010

Screenshot 2015-04-20 09.10.32

Source: “Dinamica de Desplazamiento Forzado,” Agencia Presidencial para la Acción Social y la Cooperación Internacional, Accessed 19 April 2015.

 Table 2 shows a different pattern of displacement than the one presented in Table 1. The displacement between 1997 and 2010 includes new departments, such as Chocó, Caquetá, Arauca, Casanare, Meta, and Bolivar, which were less affected during the period of La Violencia. The expansion of violence, appropriation, and dispossession is attributed to a number of factors. Notwithstanding cattle ranching, the surge in agribusinesses and of mining, coal, gold, and oil extraction, multinational corporation investments created more incentives for the use of violence and appropriation and dispossession.[33] [34]

Moreover, since the late 1990s, the civil war dynamics expanded in radius with the emergence of the AUC and the rising power of the insurgency.[35] The changing dynamics of the civil war led to increased land dispossession and appropriation by paramilitaries in order to deny the insurgency its peasant base of support. Such a phenomena was evident in the Middle Magdalena, South Bolivar, Montes de Maria, Meta, and Arauca.


Violence has been the effective tool for the advancement of the rentier economy in Colombia spearheaded by two main factions of the landed oligarchy: large cattle ranchers and the narcobourgeoisie. As discussed in this article, the rentier economy is characterized by an extreme concentration of land and wealth in the hands of the upper centile of the population. The two civil wars (1946-1958 and 1964-present) propelled this process of land concentration leading to the displacement of millions with far-reaching and traumatic consequences. The net result was the massive displacement of 29 percent of the population between 1946 and 2013.[36] In terms of percentage, it was as if almost the entire current rural population, 32 percent of the country, had been displaced in that period.[37] This article highlighted only an aspect of this problem that is the interplay amongdisplacement, concentration of land ownership, and rentier capitalism.

The Colombian government is currently facing the daunting task of restituting the illegally obtained lands of six million people. This is while knowing that only 31 percent of the owners of the abandoned hectares possess legal titles to the land, and of those that have legal titles, 15 percent of them have titles that are either lost or not available. Whereas, for a majority of the 56 percent dispossessed, their land ownership titles are at best precarious.Moreover, the process of state restitution faces two additional challenges: limited state capacities, overall inefficiency, bureaucratic red tape, and most importantly, the violent resistance of the landed oligarchy—who are still funding death squads to prevent land restitution. Indeed, because of these squads, tens of peasant leaders claiming land have been killed in the last few years.[39]

Meanwhile, the peasant-based insurgency of the FARC and ELN continue to resist.[40] In part, the outcome of their resistance hinges on the type of agreements that the FARC and the ELN would forge with the state, and their ability to carry them through. The chances are low that the rebels would succeed in bringing about the long overdue land reform supplanting the rentier model and restituting the usurped lands. But what is certain is that Colombia’s peasants have resisted and survived the onslaught and proved to be efficient producers contrary to the prediction of economic orthodoxies. The peasant subsistence economy still provides as much as 63 percent of the food production in the country.[41]

The peace talks that started in 2012 in Havana between FARC and state representatives carries the air of guarded optimism in possibly settling an armed conflict that is now over 50 years old. The reason for this reserved optimism is the high concentration of landed property, dispossession of millions, and dominance of the rentier capital, compounded by the surge of the extractive sector. These factors, the dominant social forces and the prevailing mode of economic development, dim the prospects of a peaceful post-conflict situation. This will remain so unless the dominant elites accept a historical compromise under which land and wealth is redistributed and a more rational, efficient, and sustainable economic system replaces the one that has perpetuated violence and dispossession since the early twentieth century.


Nazih Richani received his Ph.D. from the George Washington University, D.C. September 1990 in Political Science. He has several awards including six Fulbright grants and research grants from the World Bank, UNDP, and Carnegie. He is currently an Associate Professor at Kean University where he directs the Latin American Program. His publication includes two books and several academic articles. His books are: Dilemmas of Democracy and Political Parties in Sectarian Societies: Lebanon, 1949-1996, St. Martin’s Press, 1998; Systems of Violence: The Political Economy of War and Peace in Colombia, State University of New York Press (SUNY), 2002, with a second expanded edition released in 2014. He is currently working on a book manuscript on the Political Economy of the Emerging Rentier Economy in Colombia and its Impact on Food Production. He can be reached at, and his Twitter handle is @irichani.


[1] A war system is defined as the interdependent relationship among warring actors with its proper political economy, dynamic, and equilibrium that allow the perpetuation of conflict over time. See Nazih Richani, Systems of Violence The Political Economy of War and Peace in Colombia (Albany, NY: SUNY, 2013), chapters 1 and 7.

[2]Rentier economy is used in this article to denote investment in land motivated mainly on expected rent revenues, i.e., speculation rather than current productivity. See Nazih Richani, “The Agrarian ‘Rentier’ Political Economy: Land Concentration and Food Insecurity in Colombia,” Latin American Research Review 47, no. 2 (Summer 2012), 51-78. Richani (2012) amends the use of the rentier to explore specifically the problematic of agricultural land that has been increasingly transformed from productive to unproductive purposes: rents and speculation. Similarly, in this article, the definition of “rentier” is in line with the definitions used by David Ricardo and Karl Marx, who discussed land rent as a revenue that does not involve production and labor. See David Ricardo, Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (New York: Cosimo Publishers, 2006); Karl Marx,Capital, Vol. 3 (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1991).

[3] Encomienda was a system under which the Spanish crown granted soldiers and colonists with a tract of land or a village along with with its Indian inhabitants, who were expected to pay tribute. Under the mita system, the crown allowed certain colonists to recruit Indians for forced labor. Mayorazco is a system of inheritance in which land titles and honorary rights aim to perpetuate family ownership of certain goods. The repartimiento system, frequently called the mita in Peru and the cuatequil in New Spain (Mexico), was in operation as early as 1499 and was given definite form in about 1575. Under the repartimiento system, five percent of the Indians in a given district might be subject to labor in mines, and about ten percent for seasonal agricultural work. Sharecropping is a system that developed in the nineteenth century in which landowners shared their crops with their landless peasants. This system remained strong in Colombia well into the second half of the twentieth century. See Leon Zamosc, The Agrarian Question and the Peasant Movement in Colombia (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986).

[4]Elisa Wiener Bravo, “The concentration of land ownership in Latin America: An approach to current problems,” International Land Coalition, January 2011,; Mariana Herrera, “Land Tenure and Policy Making,” paper presented at the Conclusive Expert Meeting on FAO Normative Work on Land Tenure Data, 22-23 September 2005, FAO Rome,

[5] Thomas Picketty, Capital in the 21st Century, (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press 2014), 327.

[6] Ibid., 327.

[7] Francisco Gutierrez, “Extreme Inequality: A Political Consideration. Rural Policies in Colombia, 2002-2009,” FICHL Publication Series,No. 6, (2010), 220,áginas-desdeFICHL_6_web.pdf-Adobe-Acrobat-Pro.pdf.

[8] The list of the different organizational tools of capital involved in Colombia’s land grabbing is lengthy. A few examples: Cargill bought approximately 52,000 hectares of land in Colombia between 2010 and 2012 (see “Divide y comparás: Una nueva forma de concentrar tierras baldías en Colombia,” Oxfam (January 2012),; Israeli companies have also made large-scale land purchases in Colombia (see Zafrir Rinat, “Study: Israel ranks among world’s most harmful land-grabbers,” Haaretz, 29 January 2013, See also Nazih Richani, “Sovereignty For Sale: Corporate Land Grab in Colombia,” NACLA, 4 October 2012,

[9] Paula Álvarez Roa, “Mercado de Tierras en Colombia:¿Acaparamiento o Soberanía Alimentaria?”(Austria: Instituto Mayor Campesino, 2012). See also, Rachel Brickener, ed., Migration, Globalization and the State (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

[10] Gabriel Rojas Andrade and Paola Hurtado, “Grupos posdesmovilización y desplazamiento forzado en Colombia: una aproximación cuantitativa,” CODHES (Bogotá, 2014),

[11] Fabrizio Hochschild, “La paz ya viene” El Espectador, 18 October 2014,

[12] Nubia Yaneth Ruiz, “El Desplazamiento Forzado en el Interior de Colombia: Características Sociodemográficas y Pautas de Distribución Territorial 2000-2004” (Unpublished Dissertation, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona: 2007), 18.

[13] Richani (2012).

[14]In Latin American modern history, latifundios are large landed estates that utilize coerced forms of labor and sharecropping. In Colombia, latifundios have successfully survived by employing violence through the instruments of state coercion and the employment of private armies and paramilitaries.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Salomon Kalmanovitz & Enrique Lopez Encico, “La Agricultura Colombiana en el Siglo XX,” (Bogota: Banco de la Republica, 2006), 350-1.

[17] Nazih Richani, Systems of Violence the Political Economy of War and Peace in Colombia, 2nd ed., (Albany: SUNY Press, 2013).

[18]Alejandro Reyes, “Guerreros y Campesinos: El Despojo de la Tierra en Colombia,” (Bogotá: Editorial Norma, 2009), cps.1-3.

[19] I coined the term narcobourgeoisie in 2002 to distinguish this wealthy faction from the remaining sectors bourgeoisie in terms of: a) social class origins; b) source of its capital accumulation (narcotrafficking); c) illegal status; d) exploitation of labor nationally (production cycle) and internationally (distribution and marketing). See Nazih Richani, Systems of Violence: The Political Economy of War and Peace in Colombia (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2002). See also, Francisco Thoumi, Illegal Drugs, Economy, and Society in the Andes (Washington D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2008); Francisco Thoumi, Economia Politica Y Narcotrafico (Bogotá: Tercer Mundo, 1994), 133.

[20] Thoumi (1998).

[21] Richani (2012) presents empirical evidence that, on average, one hectare of extensive cattle ranching produces an annual net income of about 300.000 pesos (US  , .roperties;l Policies Fuel levenue are going to say something new like about how taxes will decrease.$150); meanwhile, one hectare of food crops produces a yearly net between two and five million pesos—US $1,000 and US $2,500. See also, “Hechos del Callejon,” UNDP, (Bogota: PNUD, 2008), 5. But the most striking finding of Richani (2012) about the “inefficient” use of land is: if we assume for a moment that it is the immediate productive returns of cattle ranching that is driving current investment, then Colombia averages 1 cow/1.7 hectares while Brazil 9 cows/hectare, New Zealand 3 cows/hectare and the US ranges from 1.2 cows/hectare to 2.4 cows/hectare.In other words, Colombia may have one of the highest misallocation of land, a main factor of capital.

[22] It is reported that 115,000 hectares of palm oil are destined for the production of biodiesel for the domestic market, while 40.000 hectares of sugarcane are destined for ethanol production. See also, Victoria Marin, Jon C. Lovett and Joy S. Clancy, “Biofuels and Land Appropriation in Colombia: Do Biofuels National Policies Fuel Land Grabs?” (Paper presented at the International Conference on Global Land Grabbing: April 2011), This is just a fraction of what the large cattle ranchers own.

[23] Richani (2012). See also, Alvaro V. Balcázar et al., “La ganadería bovina en Colombia, 1970–1991,” Transformaciones en la Estructura Agraria, (Bogotá: Tercer Mundo, 1994), 323. See also Marcelo Giugale, Olivier Lafourcade and Connie Luff, “Colombia: The Economic Foundation of Peace” (Washington DC: The World Bank Group, 2003), 562; Johns Heath, Hans Binswanger, and Ernst Lutz, eds, “Policy-Induced Effects of Natural Resource Degradation: The Case of Colombia,” Agriculture and the Environment, (Washington DC: World Bank Group, 1998); Jose Antonio Ocampo, ed., Historia Economic de Colombia (Bogotá: Tercer Mundo, 1994), 283.

[24] Luis Jorge Garay, “Tragedia Humanitaria del Desplazamiento Forzado en Colombia,” Estudios Politicos, no. 35 (Medellin: Instituto de Estudios Politicos, Universidad de Antioquia, 2009) 153-177.

[25] These figures are quoted in Richani (2012). See also, “DANE (Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística, 2004), “Encuesta nacional agropecuaria,” (Bogotá: Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística, 2004); Giugale, Lafourcade, and Luff.

[26] Garay, 153-177.

[27] Yamile Salinas Abdala, “Dinamicas del Mercado de la Tierra en Colombia,” (Report, Oficina Regional de la FAO para América Latina y el Caribe: 2011).

[28] The Gini coefficient index is designed to provide an estimate on the distribution of land property. The index ranges from 0, where all people have equal land property, to 1, when land ownership is concentrated in the hand of one individual.

[29] Absalon Machado and Ruth Suarez, “El Mercado de Tierra en Colombia,” (Bogotá: Tercer Mundo, 1999).

[30] Ruiz, 297-302.

[31] Francisco Gutierrez Sanin, “Extreme Inequality : A Political Consideration – Rural Policies in Colombia, 2002-2009,” FICHL Publication Series, no. 6 (2010),áginas-desdeFICHL_6_web.pdf-Adobe-Acrobat-Pro.pdf.

[32] Ana Maria Ibáñez, La concentración de la propiedad rural en Colombia: conflicto, desplazamiento forzoso y efectos productivos (2009), See also Ana Maria Ibáñez and Pablo Querubín Borrero, “Acceso a tierras y deplazamiento forzado en Colombia,” Documento CEDE 2004–23 (Bogotá: Universidad de los Andes 2004).

[33] Multinational corporations have formed an important part of the political economy of the civil war underlined by rentier development, displacement, and dispossession. Corporations such as Chiquita Brands International, British Petroleum (better known as BP), Drummond Company, Anglo Gold Ashanti, Greystar Resources (now known as Eco Oro Minerals), B2Gold, Pacific Rubiales Energy, Coca Cola, Nestlé and others were implicated or investigated for collaboration with the AUC in the killings of union leaders. See Nazih Richani, “Francisco Ramirez: Union leader and organizer,” (interview with author, Bogota: July 2014); “Informant, member of the leadership council of Union Sindical Obrera (USO),” (interview with author, Bogota: July 2014). This USO informant revealed to me the complicity of Pacific Rubiales Energy with neo-paramilitaries that emerged after demobilization of the AUC in 2005 in the department of Meta where the assassination of USO members continues. See also Nazih Richani, “Multinational Corporations, Rentier Capitalism, and the War System in Colombia,” Latin American Politics and Society (Fall 2005) 113-144; Julien Barbey, et al, “A Return to El Dorado” (report, Center for International Conflict Resolution, Columbia University, New York: 2012),; “Chiquita bananas hired killer commandos: suit,” New York Post, 22 September 2013,

[34] In 2012, the foreign direct investment (FDI) in Colombia amounted to US $16 billion, which was a significant increase from US $2,394,769,103 in 2000. It is expected that the FDI will increase to $45 billion by 2015. Additionally, it is noted that the most significant jump in FDI direct investments occurred between 2005-2009 when they tripled by increasing from US $3.8 billion to US $11.9 billion. Most of these increases were in mining.

[35] Nazih Richani, Systems of Violence: The Political Economy of War and Peace in Colombia, second edition, (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2013), 6-7.

[36]This is based on my percentage calculation of both periods of massive displacement (1946-1958 and the 1985-2014).

[37] The Colombia Rural UN Development Program (UNDP) 2011 report calculated Colombia’s rural population to be 32 percent. See “Razones para la esperanza: resumen ejecutivo,” UNDP, (Informe Nacional de Desarrollo Humano, UNDP Colombia Rural, Bogotá: 2011),

[38] Comisión de Juristas, Revertir el destierro forzado, “Protección y restitución de los territorios usurpados: Obstáculos y desafíos para garantizar el derecho al patrimonio de la población desplazada en Colombia,” (report, Comision de Juristas, Bogotá: 2006).

[39] According to Amnesty International, by the end of August 2014, the Office of the Attorney General in Colombia was investigating at least 35 killings of individuals who were involved in the land restitution process. The actual number of those killed, however, is likely to be much higher. See “Colombia’s land restitution process failing those forced off of their land,” (report, Amnesty International: 27 November 2014),

[40] Nazih Richani, “The Political Economy of Violence: The War System in Colombia,” Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 39, no. 2, (April 1997), 37–81; Richani (2013).

[41] For a revisit of the peasant economy efficiency, see Ramiro Rodriguez Sperat, Raúl Gustavo Paz, and Walter Robledo, “Productive Efficiency in Small Peasant and Capitalist Farms, Empirical Evidence using DEA,” World Journal of Agricultural Sciences 4 no. 5, (2008) 583-599, It is noteworthy that in spite of the forced displacement of small peasants subsistence peasants are responsible for 63 percent of the total food production in Colombia. See UNDP, Hechos del Callejón, (Bogotá: PNUD, 2008), 5,