One more rural leader was killed Sunday in the southeastern department of Cauca, reported the campesinos organization he was leading, in a series of paramilitary violence targeting human rights activists in Colombia's rural areas.
Two hooded hitmen reportedly shot three times at community leader Ymer Chavez Rivera as he was leaving his house along with his wife, who was also injured and transferred to the closest medical center in Popayan, the capital of Cauca.
Chavez was praised for his commitment to the defense of human rights and to peace-building in the area, highlighted the Campesinos People's Guard of Frontino, Cauca, in a communique.
“Despite the signature of a peace agreement between the FARC rebels and the Colombian government, and the advances in the peace process with the ELN, the Cauca province has been affected by an increasing number of attacks and threats against the men and women who organize the defense of the territory,” added the statement.
Ana Milena Miranda, another member of the Guard was attacked in May, they recalled.
The document claimed that the murder was a response to the group's demand that the State recognize and protect the Campesinos Guard, as promoters of peace building in the rural territories.
Since the government announced the bilateral cease-fire on Aug. 26, more than a dozen rural, Indigenous and Afro-descendent leaders fighting against mining and other development projects have been killed in Colombia, reported Colombia Informa in mid-September, including eight in the province of Cauca —35 were killed across the country since the beginning of the year, according to Somos Defensores human rights group.
In a statement released on Sept. 12, Amnesty International urged Colombian authorities to “take immediate and efficient measures in order to definitely put an end to the series of recent murders of human rights activists and community leaders.”
However, the government has so far preferred denying the presence of paramilitary groups in the territory since their alleged demobilization under former President Alvaro Uribe, despite mounting evidence that paramilitary violence has dramatically increased in recent years, often with the complicity of military forces.