Rooted in Violence: The Expansion of Palm Oil in Meta

  • David Maher
Part of the Rethinking Political Violence book series (RPV)


Continuing to acknowledge that civil war and development are not spread uniformly across countries, this chapter analyses the development of palm oil in Meta, the region of Colombia that leads the country’s palm oil sector. Colombia’s palm oil is increasingly exported to international markets. This chapter thus gives insights into how violence can facilitate emerging markets in civil war economies to enter and compete in the globalised economy. The evidence suggests that violence in Meta has benefited the palm oil sector. Acting in concert, Colombia’s military and paramilitary groups have forcibly displaced large swathes of Meta’s citizens, which has cleared land for palm oil cultivation and enabled palm oil firms to expand their operations. The paramilitaries subsequently provide security for these plantations.


  1. Acción Social. n.d. Sistemas de información. estadísticas de la población desplazada. registro único de población desplazada. [database online]. Available from Accessed 11 Sept 2012.
  2. Alsema, Adriaan. 2012. Landowners paid paramilitaries for massacre. Colombia Reports. Available from Accessed 1 May 2012.
  3. Amnesty International. 2004. Colombia: Laboratory of war—Repression and violence in Arauca. Available from Accessed 10 Sept 2012.
  4. Balch, Oliver, and Rory Carroll. 2007. Massacres and paramilitary land seizures behind the biofuel revolution. The Guardian, June 5.Google Scholar
  5. Brittain, James J. 2010. Revolutionary and social change in Colombia: The original and direction of the FARC-EP. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  6. Burt, Jo-Marie. 2000. The massacre at Mapiripán. Colombia Journal. Available from Accessed 1 May 2012.
  7. Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular (CINEP). n.d. Banco de datos de derechos humanos y violencia política del CINEP [online database]. Available from Accessed 12 Sept 2012.
  8. Chernick, Marc. 2007. The FARC-EP: From liberal guerrillas to Marxist rebels to post-cold war insurgents. In Terror, insurgencies, and the state: Ending protracted conflicts, ed. Marianne Heiberg, Brendan O’Leary, and John Tirman, 51–82. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  9. CODHES. 2010. ¿Salto estratégico o salto al vacío? El desplazamiento forzado en los tiempos de la seguridad democrática, resumen del informe 2009. Bogotá: CODHES.Google Scholar
  10. Consejo Nacional de Política Económica y Social. 2008. Lineamientos de politica para promover la produccion sostenible de biocombustibles en Colombia. Bogotá: República de Colombia, Departamento Nacional de Planeación.Google Scholar
  11. DANE. 2010a. Boletín. censo general 2005. perfil: Tame, Arauca. Bogotá: República de Colombia.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 2010b. Boletín. censo general 2005. perfil: San Carlos de Guaroa, Meta. Bogotá: República de Colombia.Google Scholar
  13. ———. 2010c. Boletín. censo general 2005. perfil: Villanueva, Casanare. Bogotá: República de Colombia.Google Scholar
  14. ———. 2010d. Boletín. censo general 2005. perfil: Tumaco, Nariño. Bogotá: República de Colombia.Google Scholar
  15. ———. 2011. ICER: Informe de coyuntura económica regional 2010. Departmento del Meta. Bogotá: República de Colombia.Google Scholar
  16. ———. n.d. Censo general 2005: Cuadro Censo 2005. Dataset. Available from Accessed 29 June 2017.
  17. El Tiempo. 1997. Paras, autores de masacre de San Carlos de Guaroa. El Tiempo. Available from Accessed 28 May 2012.
  18. ———. 1999. Primera sentencia por masacre de San Carlos de G. El Tiempo. Available from Accessed 28 May 2012.
  19. ———. 2009. Uscátegui: 40 años por Mapiripán. Available from Accessed 1 May 2012.
  20. Escobar, Arturo. 2004. Beyond the Third World: Imperial globality, global coloniality and anti-globalisation social movements. Third World Quarterly 25 (1): 207–230. Scholar
  21. Fedepalma (Federación Nacional de Cultivadores de Palma de Aceite). 2002. Anuario estadistico 2002. Bogotá: Fedepalma.Google Scholar
  22. ———. 2005. Anuario estadistico 2005. Bogotá: Fedepalma.Google Scholar
  23. ———. 2006. Anuario estadistico 2006. Bogotá: Fedepalma.Google Scholar
  24. ———. 2007. The faces of the oil palm: The relevance of the oil palm agro-industry in Colombia. Bogotá: Fedepalma.Google Scholar
  25. ———. 2008. Anuario estadístico 2008. Bogotá: Fedepalma.Google Scholar
  26. ———. 2009. Balance económico del sector palmero colombiano en 2008. Bogotá: Fedepalma.Google Scholar
  27. ———. 2010. Balance económico del sector palmero colombiano en 2009. Bogotá: Fedepalma.Google Scholar
  28. ———. 2012. La palma aceite. Available from Accessed 27 Feb 2012.
  29. Gerber, Julien-François. 2011. Conflicts over industrial tree plantations in the south: Who, how and why? Global Environmental Change 21: 165–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gobernación del Meta. 2006. Meta estadístico 2005. Meta: Gobernación del Meta.Google Scholar
  31. ———. 2009. Boletín no. 6. Sector agricola: Ultimas cifras reportadas al año 2008. Meta: Gobernación del Meta.Google Scholar
  32. ———. 2010. Boletín no. 26. sector agricola: Ultimas cifras reportadas al año 2009. Meta: Gobernación del Meta.Google Scholar
  33. Grajales, Jacobo. 2011. The rifle and the title: Paramilitary violence, land grab and land control in Colombia. Journal of Peasant Studies 38 (4): 771–792.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Greenpeace. 2012. Palm oil. Available from Accessed 12 Sept 2012.
  35. Gronewold, Nathanial. 2011. Biofuels push becomes weapon in Colombia’s war on narco-traffickers. New York Times, May 2, 2011. Available from Accessed 27 Apr 2012.
  36. Houldey, Gemma. 2008. Fuelling fear: The human costs of biofuels in Colombia. London: War on Want.Google Scholar
  37. Hristov, Jasmin. 2009. Blood & capital: The paramilitarization of Colombia. Toronto: Between the Lines.Google Scholar
  38. Human Rights Watch. 2010. Paramilitaries’ heirs: The new face of violence in Colombia. New York: Human Rights Watch.Google Scholar
  39. Hylton, Forrest. 2006. Evil hour in Colombia. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  40. International Crisis Group. 2009. Ending Colombia’s FARC conflict: Dealing the right card. Brussels: ICG.Google Scholar
  41. Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). 2007. Resisting displacement by combatants and developers: Humanitarian zones in north-west Colombia. Geneva: IDMC.Google Scholar
  42. Isacson, Adam, and Abigail Poe. 2009. After Plan Colombia: Evaluating ‘Integrated Action’, the Next Phase of US Assistance. Washington, DC: Center for International Policy.Google Scholar
  43. Kirk, Robin. 2003. More terrible than death: Violence, drugs, and America’s war in Colombia. New York: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
  44. Leech, Garry. 2009. Fuelling underdevelopment in Colombia: Poverty, human rights and Canada’s role in the African palm oil sector. Ottawa: Inter Pares.Google Scholar
  45. Maughan, Mark J. 2011. Land grab and oil palm in Colombia, Paper presented at the international conference on global land grabbing. University of Sussex, April 6–8.Google Scholar
  46. Mingorance, Fidel. 2006. The flow of palm oil Colombia- Belgium/Europe: A study from a human rights perspective. Human Rights Everywhere/Coordination Belge pour la Colombie.Google Scholar
  47. Municipalidad de Villanueva. 2011. Información general: Economía. Municipalidad de Villanueva. Available from Accessed 8 Aug 2012.
  48. Ocampo Valencia, Sebastián. 2009. Agroindustria y conflicto armado: El caso de la palma de aceite. Colombia Internacional 70: 169–190.Google Scholar
  49. Oslender, Ulrich. 2007. Violence in development: The logic of forced displacement on Colombia’s pacific coast. Development in Practice 17 (6): 752–764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Otis, John. 2012. Meet the new boss: The rise of Colombia’s labor co-ops. Global Post. Available from Accessed 6 Aug 2012.
  51. Pachico, Elyssa. 2011. Colombia troop surge in Nariño: Too little too late? Insight Crime. Available from Accessed 6 Aug 2012.
  52. Palacios, Paola. 2010. Forced displacement: Legal versus illegal crops. n.p. Available from Accessed 12 Sept 2012.
  53. ———. 2012. Forced displacement: Legal versus illegal crops. Defence and Peace Economics 23 (2): 133–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Parkinson, Charles. 2012. Security forces kill 32 FARC guerrillas in central Colombia. Colombia Reports. Available from Accessed 7 June 2012.
  55. Peace Brigades International (PBI). 2010. Forced displacement in Colombia: A crime and a humanitarian tragedy. n.p.: Editorial Códice.Google Scholar
  56. Peceny, Mark, and Michael Durnan. 2006. The FARC’s best friend: U.S. antidrug policies and the deepening of Colombia’s civil war in the 1990s. Latin American Politics and Society 48 (2): 95–116.Google Scholar
  57. Pimentel, David, Alison Marklein, Megan A. Toth, Marissa N. Karpoff, Gillian S. Paul, Robert McCormack, Joanna Kyriazis, and Tim Krueger. 2009. Food versus biofuels: Environmental and economic costs. Hum Ecol 37: 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Proexport Colombia. n.d. Colombia, among the three most attractive countries to invest. Accessed 4 May 2017.
  59. Richani, Nazih. 2002. Systems of violence: The political economy of war and peace in Colombia. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  60. Robberson, Tod. 1999. Colombian army officer in danger after accusing general. Dallas Morning News. Available from Accessed 25 May 2012.
  61. Rojas Mejia, Pablo. Biofuels fuel Colombia’s conflict. Colombia Reports [database online]. 2011 [cited 6/8 2012]. Available from
  62. Romero, Simon. 2008. Cocaine sustains war in rural Colombia. New York Times, July 27. Available from Accessed 27 Apr 2012.
  63. Seeboldt, Sandra, and Yamile Salinas Abdala. 2010. Responsibility and sustainability of the palm oil industry: Are the principles and criteria of the RSPO feasible in Colombia? The Hague/Bogotá: Oxfam Novib and Indepaz.Google Scholar
  64. Semana. 1997. Ojo por ojo: La guerra entre las farc y los paramilitares se pone al rojo vivo luego de la matanza de Mapiripán. Semana, September 15. Available from Accessed 1 May 2012.
  65. Spencer, David. 2001. Colombia’s paramilitaries: Criminals or political force? Pennsylvania: Strategic Studies Institute.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Thomson, Frances. 2011. The agrarian question and violence in Colombia: Conflict and development. Journal of Agrarian Change 11 (3): 321–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. UCDP. 2013. Battle-related deaths dataset v.5–2013. Accessed 4 Nov 2013.
  68. Uribe, Álvaro. 2005. Palabras del presidente uribe en clausura del congreso ACOLOG. Available from Accessed 4 May 2012.
  69. Verdad Abierta. 2012a. Protegen tres mil hectáreas en Mapiripán. Available from Accessed 8 May 2012.
  70. ———. 2012b. ‘Don Mario’ dice que 4 mil hectáreas de palma están en poder de ‘paras’. Available from Accessed 8 May 2012.
  71. ———. 2012c. ¿Quién miente entre ‘Don Mario’ y ‘Pirata’? Available from Accessed 8 May 2012.
  72. Wells, Miriam. 2011. Colombia suffers resounding loss in Mapiripan massacre case. In Colombia Reports. Accessed 12 Sept 2012.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Maher
    • 1
  1. 1.Lecturer in International RelationsUniversity of SalfordSalfordUK

Personalised recommendations