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News > Latin America

Scores of Colombian Police Investigated for Tumaco Massacre

  • A vigil is held in memory of the seven campesinos killed in Tumaco.

    A vigil is held in memory of the seven campesinos killed in Tumaco. | Photo: AFP

Published 16 October 2017

Earlier this month state police opened fire on a group coca growers protesting the forced eradication of their crops by the government, killing at least 7 people.

Colombia's Office of the Inspector General, along with Prosecutor General's Office and the Office of the Ombudsman, have all announced an investigation into 36 policemen and 14 soldiers involved in the Oct. 5 massacre in the city of Tumaco, where at least seven campesinos were killed.

Hundreds of Colombian Families Forced Out by Violence in Tumaco

Several non-governmental organizations have requested European Union member countries to lend their support to the investigations, according to Colombia Reports.

The Inspector General's Office has already ordered the suspension of an ESMAD anti-riot unit, as well as the commander of the CASEG-6 counter-narcotics unit involved in an attack on journalists and international observers that occurred in Tumaco, just days after the massacre.

On Oct. 5, state police forces opened fire on a group of protesting coca growers who were contesting the forced eradication of their crops by the government, killing to date at least seven people and injuring over 50.

In the aftermath of the massacre, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos held a televised press conference in which he ignored claims made by campesino witnesses who explicitly said that they were attacked by police. Instead, he affirmed that criminal gangs involved in drug trafficking didn't want the area to stop coca production. He also noted that it was territory previously held by the FARC guerrillas, without explicitly blaming the group that has now transitioned to a political movement as part of the peace accords.

Colombian Officials Admit to Police Killing of Campesinos, 4 Suspended

Tumaco is the municipality with the most coca cultivation in the Colombia and suffers from a surge of armed groups that fight over corridors to smuggle drugs to the United States.

According to the Alliance for Global Justice, “the United States is pressuring Colombia” to abandon a voluntary coca erradication program to incorporate “forced eradication.” The organization affirmed that the move “frequently results in state violence. The White House is also urging Colombia to return to aerial fumigation of illicit crops with Monsanto’s RoundUp Ultra,” which contains glyphosate, a chemical that may cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization.

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