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News > Latin America

Colombian Women’s Rights Activist Found Dead in River

  • A woman displays a placard with the slogan

    A woman displays a placard with the slogan "No one more death." | Photo: Reuters FILE

Published 27 October 2018

The police launched an investigation into the events surrounding the grassroots leader's abduction and subsequent murder.

Women's rights activist Maria Caicedo Muñoz was found dead in Rio Macay, Cauca department Friday. She was a Women’s Committee of the Association of Campesino Women of Argelia, as informed by the Peoples’ Prosecutor on Saturday.

Another Colombian Social Leader Murdered, 173rd Killed This Year

“We reject the murder of Maria Caicedo Muñoz, social leader, in Argelia [Cauca]. We stand in solidarity with her family and the communities she represented,” the organization wrote in its Twitter account.

Caicedo was part of a group which championed women's rights, in the region, which is linked to the Campesino Association of Workers of Argelia (Ascamta).

“We must end violence between Colombians. Let’s hope the authorities investigate and clarify this violent act,” said the organization.

She was kidnapped on October 20 at her house in Desiderio Zapata by unknown men, who tied up her daughters, told them their mom would come back soon and warned them about telling the police.

The police, along with the prosecutor's office, launched an investigation into the events surrounding the grassroots leader's abduction and subsequent murder, but the community was doing its own work in the search.

Before finding her remains, the national spokesperson of the National Coordinator of Coca, Poppy, and Marijuana Growers (Coccam) Leider Miranda, said the community was searching for her despite the authorities’ unwillingness to help, and made the government responsible for failing to guarantee their basic rights to social leaders and rights defenders.

The Colombian President Ivan Duque condemned the crime during a public event at the Chinu municipality, northern Colombia, and expressed his solidarity with Caicedo’s family.
“I’m in pain because of this situation and we will do everything necessary to not leave this or other crimes in impunity, and so we can capture the ones behind this homicide,” said Duque.

Between January 1, 2016, when the peace agreement with Revolutionary Alternative Force of The Commons, FARC was signed, and October 23, 2018, some 478 social leaders have been killed. Nearly 80% of the deceased were Campesinos or Indigenous leaders.

According to numbers by the independent think than Ideas for Peace Foundation, the first eight months of 2018 were the most violent since 2010, as about 93 social leaders were murdered.

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