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News > Colombia

Colombia: Violence Against Social Leaders Remains Before Polls

  • Citizens walk along a fence that invites to vote in the Colombian regional and local elections, in Medellin, Colombia, Oct. 24, 2019

    Citizens walk along a fence that invites to vote in the Colombian regional and local elections, in Medellin, Colombia, Oct. 24, 2019 | Photo: EFE

Published 25 October 2019

At least 108 cases of violence against candidates and 24 attacks against journalists have been reported.

So far seven candidates have been killed and another one has been kidnapped in Colombia, a country which is experiencing a new wave of political violence a few days before the municipal and regional elections will be held on October 27.


Ex-FARC Combatant Killed Ahead of Regional Elections

"Colombian regional elections have been marked by a strongly violent dynamic as 117 indigenous leaders and 7 candidates have been killed in 2019. In addition 137 former guerilla fighters have been killed since the signing of the peace agreement," teleSUR journalist Hernan Tobar reported.

Although the 2018 legislative and presidential elections took place in a relatively peaceful manner, political instability reappeared in this campaign with attacks on candidates at a time when the peace process falters and the killings of social leaders increase.

The Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) has recorded 108 cases of violence against candidates since last July, most of them in remote areas where the presence of the State has not been significant even after the signing of the peace agreement in November of 2016.

Regarding physical violence against women, the MOE expressed concern about the existence of cases in which female community leaders have been beaten for their participation in political activities.

"Urgent. Rodolfo, our fellow peace signer, has just been killed. Hooded men entered the Mariana Paez reinstatement space in Mesetas, where he lived and shot him until they took his life. With him, there are 168 former guerrilla fighters killed, 88 of them were killed during Duque's administration."

During the last week of the election campaign, there has also been an increase in violent acts against campaign managers, political advisors and indigenous leaders.

The resurgence of electoral violence is related to drug trafficking, a growing problem in a country where transnational criminal gangs and right-wing paramilitary groups are fighting for territories.

This endless territorial war conflict has led to the displacement of at least 15,140 people from January to October 9, according to a report by the Ombudsman's Office.

"Let's not tell lies among us. In many regions drug traffickers want to put mayors, governors, councilors and lawmakers," Colombia's President Ivan Duque acknowledged on Aug. 21, adding that drug traffickers want to influence upcoming elections through "macabre, dark, hidden alliances."

The MOE has trained 3,340 people to act as election observers in 566 municipalities, a decision which will allow timely information on what happens in 66 percent of municipalities where the highest levels of violence have been recorded. The participation of 53 international observers is also expected.

For its part, the Press Freedom Foundation (Flip) has documented 24 attacks against journalists who were covering campaigns.


Ivan Duque
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