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Several electoral candidates have been killed over the last few weeks as political violence rises in Colombia.
Bernardo Betancourt, candidate for the Mayor's Office of Tibú, Colombia was murdered Sunday at a campaign event in La Gabarra, one of the most violent areas of the country, while the number of dead candidates for October elections now amounts to seven, according to El Espectador newspaper.
Several organizations have expressed their concern and asked the authorities to bring those guilty to justice. The Conservative Party said on Twitter they deeply regretted the death of Betancourt, who they referred to as one of the best in the Norte de Santander Department, where he had already been mayor between 2004 and 2007.
The U.N. Human Rights Office in Colombia asked for political guarantees in the country, reported El Heraldo. "We condemn the homicide today of Bernardo Betancourt Orozco, candidate for mayor of Tibú for the Conservative party. It is urgent that guarantees are provided for the political participation of all people and those responsible for this crime are investigated and punished”
Betancourt's assassination happens just two days after all candidates for mayor of Tibú, in the heart of Catatumbo region, signed a nonviolence pact, promising to run a clean and peaceful campaign.
Not much is known about those responsible, although the assumption is they may have been members of one of the armed forces that occupy the territory, El Espectador reported, since some of these groups have been involved in previous crimes.
The two more recent cases are those of Karina García, a liberal Mayor candidate for Suárez and Orley García, running for office in Toledo, Antioquia, both killed in the last two weeks.
According to the Electoral Observation Mission, 155 violent acts against politicians running for office have occurred since last year, and 26 of them have had fatal consequences.