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Community Paralegals and Land Tenure (Paralegales comunitarios y la tenencia de la tierra)

By: Manolo Morales

Despite the efforts of the National Agrarian Development Institute (INDA) and non-governmental organizations to promote the legalization of community lands, land tenure continues to be a highly topical issue in Ecuador. After reviewing the subject of land titling and the different jurisdictions, the article looks at land disputes between the Chachi and the Afro-Ecuadorian peoples living in the province of Esmeraldas.

The ancestral lands of these two groups are under pressure from external players (settlers, logging companies, palm growers, shrimp farmers) causing the displacement of the Chachi and the Afro-Ecuadorians, resulting in reciprocal land invasions and land-tenure disputes, with consequent pressure on natural resources and change in land use. The article proposes settling such disputes through paralegals, whose mediation would take into account the cultural framework and the human/land relations that are generally determinant factors in such conflicts or disputes.

Report available in English, Spanish, and French.