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News > Colombia

116 Colombian Social Leaders Murdered So Far This Year

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    The banner reads,"They kill us because they cannot shut us up," Colombia. | Photo: Twitter/ @posdata_ar

Published 14 September 2021
Opinion

The social movement Let’s Defend Peace on Tuesday called armed groups to cease hostilities against citizens so as to guarantee peace in the upcoming presidential elections.

On Tuesday, the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (INDEPAZ) reported that the Albania City Communal Action Board (CAB) Secretary Marcos Gutierrez was shot dead in the Huila department on Sept. 10.

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The 62-year-old social leader was murder while while he was engaged in farming. Although neither the assassins’ identity nor their motives are known, INDEPAZ stressed that paramilitary groups Black Eagles, Gaitanist Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, and Second Marquetalia, which are dedicated to drug trafficking and illegal mining activities, operate in the Huila department.

These gangs assassinate and extort farmers to gain territory for their illegal activities, which they carry out with impunity since President Ivan Duque has not done much to prevent them. After Gutierrez's death, INDEPAZ counts 116 social leaders killed in 2021, and 1,231 human rights defenders murdered since the signing of the 2016 Peace Agreement between the Colombian State and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The social movement Let’s Defend Peace (LDP) on Tuesday called armed groups to cease hostilities against citizens so as to guarantee peace in the presidential and legislative elections to be held on May 29, 2022. So far this year, authorities have registered over 247 violent acts against political leaders.

The LDP also called on asked the Duque administration and its security forces to create conditions to expand political participation and promote dialogue with the gangs to end the violence.

Since March 13, electoral violence in Colombia has left 36 victims. According to the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation (PARES), this figure shows that one violent act was perpetrated against a citizen every four days.

Most of these violent acts, which ranged from written threats to homicides, occurred amidst the massive anti-government protests carried out in Bogota and the Antioquia, Magdalena, Valle del Cauca departments in June.

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