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Project December 30, 2014

Colombia: Palm Oil and Paramilitaries

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Media file: colombiapulitzersplash.jpg
Image by Gabe Silverman. Colombia, 2014.

From pizza dough to detergent to biofuel, palm oil has become a key ingredient in the world economy. But behind this lucrative crop are social, economic, political and environmental problems.

These issues have all emerged in Colombia's jungles, where landowners, supported by the government and protected by paramilitary groups, have been displacing Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities to plant African palm. The South American country is the fastest growing producer of palm oil, doubling production since 2000.

Supporters of palm oil production say the expanding economy can provide jobs and new tax revenue for rural development. But the Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities have begun to fight back, saying they are being locked out of both land and profits.

Journalists Nick Miroff and Gabe Silverman travel to Colombia's jungle to see how this fight is playing out on the frontline, and speak with campesinos, landowners, government officials, and NGO leaders.

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