We Always had the Authority to Do Our Work, USAID Made it Easier to Operate

Photo by: USAID Colombia Land and Rural Development

Q&A with Oscar Luna, Administrative and Financial Director of the Superintendence of Notary and Registry, SNR

Originally appeared on Exposure.

LAND ISSUES HAVE BEEN AT THE CORE OF A FIVE DECADE CONFLICT IN COLOMBIA, WHERE THE MAJORITY OF LAND IS IN THE HANDS OF JUST 5% OF THE POPULATION. IN 2015, THE SUPERINTENDENCE OF NOTARY AND REGISTRY (SNR)—THE AGENCY RESPONSIBLE FOR OVERSEEING AND PROTECTING PROPERTY IN COLOMBIA—COMMISSIONED A STUDY THAT FOUND THAT FIVE MILLION HECTARES (THE EQUIVALENT OF 30% OF COLOMBIA’S TERRITORY) WAS NOT IN THE HANDS OF THEIR TRUE OWNERS. UNDER THE FRAMEWORK OF THE PEACE ACCORDS, THE GOVERNMENT AIMS TO RECOVER THESE LANDS.

Q: What role does SNR play in the context of land in Colombia?

A: The SNR manages Colombia’s 195 Public Registries, which process the registration of property-related documents throughout the country. One of the main responsibilities of this office is to manage its archives and records–the real treasure of the agency–or from another perspective, it manages the historical patrimony our country’s land. In this sense, we’re very thankful for the support of USAID and the resources it has allocated.

Q: How does the partnership with USAID work?

A: Together we are supporting 24 Public Registries that are located in areas where the armed conflict and illegal, forced evictions have taken place. It is important to highlight that in addition to keeping the information registered in our archives up to date, USAID support and resources gives us the leverage to better protect property in Colombia. This is something that, in the midst of post-conflict, is difficult to achieve.

Q: Why did USAID decide to support this line of work?

A: Managing the Registry’s archives is key to identifying the property owners of every single parcel of land in the nation. Having this information secured, updated, protected, digitalized, and indexed allows us to refer to it at any time, and optimizes the processes of selling or transferring the ownership of a property. We can’t talk about a country in peace if we do not have property owners on their lands with the property titles to verify this.

Read the full photo essay on Exposure.