Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe was accused of illegally taking land meant for campesinos by Colombia’s Comptroller General.
The Comptroller General highlighted 33 cases of alleged irregular accumulation of uncultivated land covering an area about 123,482 hectares in a recent report, which compiled evidence from between 2013 and 2015.
Uribe, Agriculture Minister Aurelio Iragorri, and his predecessor Ruben Dario Lizarralde are among those who are accused.
The report claimed Uribe’s “El Uberrimo” in the Cordoba province is one of the estates that has expanded beyond the legal limits. It questioned 103 of the 1,500 hectares of its land.
According to records from the Chamber of Commerce, the manager of “El Uberrimo” is Lina Moreno, the former first lady, and the alternate manager is Santiago Uribe, brother of the former president.
The Comptroller General had asked the Prosecutor's Office and the Attorney General's Office to inquire if there were anomalies in the way Uribe handled “El Uberrimo.”
Uribe tweeted on Monday: “It is very easy to investigate ‘El Uberrimo’ because I have no front men and the deeds have been in accordance with the law.”
He said the 103 hectares were acquired in cases that had left the domain of the state and that his family has not been awarded uncultivated land, according to Colombia’s El Espectador.
"If this abuse is consolidated and I have to lose this piece of land, I will, but in no way will I renounce my vocation as an honorable businessman in the countryside," Uribe said Tuesday.
Colombia prevents excessive concentration of land because of unequal land distribution in the country. It was one of the main reasons why guerrilla fighters such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, began their struggle against the state in the 1960s.
Approximately 0.4 percent of the population owns more than 52 percent of Colombia's best farmland, according to USAID.
During the armed conflict, some 7 million Colombians were forcibly displaced. Large landowners and major companies were able to cheaply buy the land abandoned, many of whom had relationships with paramilitaries which contributed to the staggering displacement total. As a result, 15 percent of Colombia’s national territory illegally changed owner.
Uribe’s family has been accused of having ties to paramilitary death squads for decades.
The administration of President Juan Manuel Santos is forming a 3-million-hectare land fund after the peace agreement with the FARC. The land fund would allow displaced farmers to either go home or have the farmland they had lost in the war returned.