As a member of the FORPP staff, the majority of my time is spent ‘tras bambolinas’ – behind the scenes. However, over the last couple of months, circumstances offered an opportunity to attend a hearing at the Colombian Inspector General’s Bogotá HQ, about the situation pertaining to campesinos (small farmers) of the Nilo municipality, followed up a few weeks later by a day trip to their lands.
A little bit of background. Nilo municipality lies a few hours south-west of Bogotá. One boards the bus in the chilly capital, and alights in the scorching heat of the Cundinamarca region. The neighbouring town – Melgar – is known locally as ‘swimming-pool-city’ for its plethora of hotels, accommodating others escaping the hustle and bustle for a few days. However, these two municipalities, Nilo and Melgar, are also heavily dependent on the Colombian armed forces for their way of life. Melgar is home to a significant air force base, while Tolemaida, an army training school with strong links to the US military, lies within Nilo’s borders.
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