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Oxfam is a network of international group of 17 organizations in more than 90 countries. The organization, which focuses on global poverty issues, isn’t judging Cargill’s use of its land, Jochnick said.
“It’s quite possible it’s a productive use, a use to address national food security,” he said. “But the Colombian government has set a policy to favor small holders and limit large acquisitions.”
About 80 percent of the land in Colombia is in the hands of 14 percent of landowners, and that concentration has been growing — despite the government’s policy, the Oxfam report says.
Land concentration has long been a key complaint of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, or FARC, a leftist guerrilla group.
FARC and other paramilitary groups have a presence in the Altillanura region, and it’s also home to “illicit” crops, the Oxfam report said.
Black River invited Oxfam to visit its Colombia farms, but the group declined. “It was disappointing they did a report on our operation and refused to visit,” Johnson said.
Oxfam didn’t need to visit because the issue involved land sales, not how the land was being used, Jochnick said.
Plus, he said, Oxfam policy prohibits its workers from going into “dangerous” areas like Vichada.
“There really was no need for us to imperil our staff,” he said.
Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003