The murder of a Colombian father and his two sons in rural Cauca was confirmed to national news outlets Sunday by the National Coordinator of Coca, Poppy and Marijuana Growers, Coccam Cauca (Coccam).
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The trio was found Saturday after a group of unknown assailants entered their home in the town of Bolivar, tortured and killed 52-year-old Jaime Rivera before murdering his two sons, Jaime Reinel, 20, and Jeison Mauricio Rivera, 23 at approximately 5:00 am that morning.
Both Rivera and his son Jaime were recognized as prominent figures in their community who, on several occasions, lead protests rejecting state-executed eradication missions targeting coca crops.
The pair were described by members of their town as defenders of the peace agreement and staunch supporters of the National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of Illicit Crops. The father and son actively promoted town meetings and assisted in organizing the town’s needs and proposals.
The tragedy transpired just 24 hours after social leaders and human rights defenders presented their concerns to a collection of congressmen as part of the Public Hearing of Life and the Territory of the Southwest.
Bolivar Mayor, Rodrigo Perez, offered his sympathies to the family and the city’s financial support with the multiple funerals.
Coccam denounced the triple homicide, calling on government officials to guarantee the safety of social leaders across the country.
According to reports, there have been at least 160 social leaders killed in Colombia this year.
Past military missions of forced eradication have lead to violent clashes with the agricultural sectors with dozens wounded and killed and triggered a national debate on the state’s willingness to support new profitable alternatives for farmers in rural regions.
Oscar Zapata, a representative of the Colombia-Europe-United States Coordination (CCEEU) in Antioquia, said the violence is a carefully calculated strategy against the human rights movement and over 100 social leaders have abandoned their projects in Baixo Cauca after a “110 percent increase in threats.”