A plan to record land ownership in Colombia in partnership with Ripple Labs appears to have run into trouble and may never materialize.
A move by the previous Ministry of Information Technology to record ownership rights on the blockchain is being suffocated by new political dynamics in the South American nation.
Seen by the old political regime as a means to end inequitable land distribution suffered during the decades-old civil war, a publicly visible ledger could have ensured a solid platform for correct land allocation.
Project barely got off the ground
But now, the project faces political headwinds, with the interim head of the Colombian Land Agency saying that the project is not a priority for 2022 and is not defined in the strategic projects for the country’s information technology department.
This comes as a blow to Ripple Labs, the company behind the XRP coin that is locked in a battle with the Securities and Exchange Commission over XRP’s status as a security.
Ripple Labs initially sought to partner with Peersyst, a software company specializing in helping organizations integrate blockchain, to make visible land deeds awarded through court adjudication after years of drug wars. A peace accord co-signed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the Colombian government in 2016 contains an agreement to redistribute land to marginalized native communities, necessitating court adjudication.
But the new administration is not keen. Elected two weeks ago, the new president is offering an agrarian land reform where the state buys off unused or illegally used land and re-allocates it to rural farmers. The previous president, who favored employing Ripple’s ledger, collected 1,700,000 hectares for the National Land fund, allowing communities to farm. Unfortunately for Ripple, only one title deed was added to the ledger for a piece of land 310 miles away from the nation’s capital Bogota. Peersyst would have added other related documents, creating a public certificate that linked to the documents.
Ripple Labs executive responsible for worldwide partnerships stated that the reluctance was possible to the public nature of the blockchain but then argued that government records were already public.
Latest on Ripple’s spat with SEC
In Dec. 2020, the SEC sued Ripple Labs, co-founder Christian Larsen, and Chief Executive Bradley Garlinghouse for allegedly selling XRP without registering it as a security, following appropriate legal advice it reportedly received.
The company counters that XRP has been used as a remittance vehicle, not as an investment. It has been argued that statements made by a senior SEC official in 2018 communicated to the market that Ethereum was not a security
Last week, the SEC filed a motion supporting the exclusion of Ripple’s expert testimony. This case has been long-drawn-out and has ramifications for other cryptocurrencies’ statuses as securities.
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