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News > Latin America

Afro-Colombian Human Rights Activist Killed in Cauca

  • Members of the right-wing paramilitary group the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia inspect a bus.

    Members of the right-wing paramilitary group the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia inspect a bus. | Photo: EFE

Published 15 July 2017

This murder tragically raises the number of activists who have been killed this year to 53. 

On Friday, progressive political movement Marcha Patriotica denounced the assassination of an Afro-Colombian social leader in the Pacific province of Cauca, Colombia, one of the regions most affected by armed conflict.

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Hector William Mina, a 40-year-old father of four, was reportedly shot several times by four men as he was having breakfast at a restaurant in the town Caloto, 100 meters from the local police station. He succumbed to his injuries while on the way to Cali's hospital. 

Mina led the Human Rights Network “Francisco Isaías Cifuentes” and belonged to the National Commission on Human Rights of Marcha Patriotica. He also coordinated activities of the local Afro-Colombian community.

"Thinking differently, working for the community or the environment and being a social leader should not be a death sentence in Colombia anymore," posted the organization on Twitter.

The hashtags #NiUnMuertoMas, or "Not one more death," and #QueLaPazNoNosCuesteLaVida, or "May the peace don't cost our life," went viral throughout the media.

Mina's murder came only two days after Colombia's Human Rights Ombudsman, Carlos Alfonso Negret, disclosed that his office has recorded the murders of 52 human rights and social leaders since the start of the year.

A total of 186 killings has been reported since the beginning of 2016, while about 500 social leaders have received death threats, raising alarm over the safety of activists and the status of the peace accords.

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The state official also expressed concern over the recent killing of six members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The last one targetted was Juan Fernando Amaya, who was in the process of reintegrating into civilian life after being granted amnesty in December.

The spike in violence has been blamed on growing paramilitary activity in areas that the FARC have traditionally controlled, but the Colombian government has denied the existence of paramilitary groups and insisted the violence is isolated. 

The United Nations has indicated that the “worrying” pattern of violence could threaten to derail the peace process.

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