The campesino way of life for 113 small-scale farming families in Nilo has been constantly threatened since the creation of Tolemaida military base in 1954, Colombia’s biggest military training bases. Since the base opened in 1954, the inhabitants of the hamlets Yucala, Naranjala and Mesa Baja in the municipality of Nilo, Cundinamarca (150 km from Bogotá) have consistently been subjected to the debasement of their rights, land, and quality of life.
The military has prohibited the entry of materials needed by families to repair their homes, has damaged community crops, has contaminated the river upon which residents depend, has closed the only vehicular access to Mesa Baja, has intended illegal censuses and started military training within the communities. The community members of Nilo have resisted the army’s attempts to displace them from their land and are fighting to maintain a dignified life, free of harassment and institutional aggression.
Since 1954 this land is being disputed over by both sides, the base and the campesinos. The Colombian State guaranteed the communities the right to be on that land, even though they have yet to define the land titles, and several Courts, including the Consejo del Estado in June 2013 recognized the human rights violations the community members face with regards to dignified living conditions.
FOR Peace Presence is accompanying Nilo mostly in case of emergencies and security incidents by political accompaniment, such as calls to the commander of the Tolemaida base and military institutions in charge, as well as raising concern with the diplomatic core and our international network.