Colombian social organizations have condemned the assassination of José Gustavo Arcilla Rivera, a regional representative of the agrarian trade union and member of the community guard in the municipality of Corinto, in the troubled south western province of Cauca. The assassination follows the release last week by a respected Colombian NGO of another report documenting the high number of assassinations of social leaders during the presidency of Ivan Duque since 2018.
José Arcilla was assassinated while working on his rural property.
“The events happened around 06:00 in the morning on Sunday, when our friend was on his property, located in the village of La Cominera. An unknown person entered the property and attacked the victim with a firearm and then fled”, reported members of the National Federation of United Agricultural Unions, Fensuagro.
Arcilla was transferred to the hospital in the urban area of Corinth, where he later died as a result of the injuries received.
— Comisión de Justicia y Paz (@Justiciaypazcol) July 26, 2020
The details of the attack are under investigation and it is still unknown if Arcilla had received threats against him prior to the attack. Despite this, human rights organizations in the Department of Cauca reiterated their demands for guarantees for the security of social leaders and community defenders in Colombia’s rural and remote areas.
Between Friday and Monday four homicides were carried out by irregular armed groups operating in the area, according to information provided by the province’s social leaders to the local media.
Specifically, between last Saturday night and Monday morning, two people were killed in the Las Palmas sector, in the rural area of the municipality of Miranda. They were taken to the side of the road, where they were shot.
Also, between the municipalities of Corinto and Miranda, the Indigenous resident Luis Fabián Ipia Quiguanás was assassinated, after being taken from his home by an armed group and later killed with a firearm. LINK
Last Thursday the Institute of Studies for Development and Peace (Instituto de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Paz – Indepaz) released the latest report on the situation of social leaders, human rights defenders and former FARC combatants throughout the country.
According to the report, between January 1 and May 5 of this year, 95 social leaders or human rights defenders and 24 ex-FARC members who were part of the peace process have been assassinated, as well as 7 family members of social leaders and one security escort.
According to Indepaz, during the period of mandatory isolation amid the coronavirus pandemic social leaders have continued to be assassinated.
“From March 6 (the date on which the first case of covid-19 was registered in Colombia) to May 7, 32 social leaders and/ or defenders of human rights were assassinated, including 19 since the declaration of total national lockdown on March 23.” LINK
Cauca has been heavily affected by the generalized violence and selective assassinations, with illegal armed groups fighting for control over the strategically located province which serves as a transport corridor for weapons, drugs and other contraband items. While the Colombian armed forces also have a heavy presence in the region, they have been unwilling or unable to confront and subdue the illegal armed groups and prevent their attacks against local communities.
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