Nick Miroff has a great article in tomorrow’s Washington Post about palm oil in Colombia:
…the palm industry’s rapid expansion is yielding new evidence of a boom that benefited from the displacement of small farmers, indigenous groups and others by the armed conflict. Several of the regions where palm has spread during the past decade are places notorious for paramilitary violence and rural terror, like the north coast outside Cartagena, the Venezuela border region and the southeastern plains of the Meta department, where Mapiripan is located.
As the government and the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, now attempt to reach a peace accord to end the fighting, Colombia faces the painstaking task of trying to sort out what happened in Mapiripan and other places like it, and how to move forward.
Central to the dispute is a clashing vision of rural development, between the traditional model that has been partly destroyed by the violence and an agribusiness vision that promises growth, jobs and modernization through the spread of commodity crops like African palm.