Colombia's Indigenous communities are on high alert after authorities issued an Early Warning alerting the northern district to the imminent arrival of paramilitary groups.
The Ombudsman's Office sent out an advisory regarding the possible intrusion of militants into the nation's 22 native groups in Magdalena, Santa Marta.
Minister Carlos Alfonso Negret Mosquera delivered the notice earlier this week, explaining the paramilitaries are headed towards the mountainous communities of the Kogui, Malayo, Arhuaco and Kankuamos – some of the most vulnerable in the Sierra Nevada.
Negret also cautioned that a sect of 'Los Pachencas;' the Gaitanist Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC), and former militants from the National Liberation Army (ELN) have splintered and are attempting to control the area.
The state official was sent to warn the communities that in the event of an emergency, the challenging terrain would make it almost impossible for national police to arrive in time.
Prior to his departure, the Kogui people honored Negret by extending their protection to the minister and his office with a traditional ceremony to guard him against any threats or violence.
The Institute of Studies for Peace Development, a Colombian non-governmental organization, reports that in 2017 alone an estimated 170 social leaders were gunned down. However, official statistics are considerably lower.