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  • At least 300 campesino leaders have been killed in Colombia in 2015, according to Andres Gil, human rights leader and spokesperson of Marcha Patriotica.

    At least 300 campesino leaders have been killed in Colombia in 2015, according to Andres Gil, human rights leader and spokesperson of Marcha Patriotica. | Photo: EFE

Published 18 January 2016

Despite peace talks, activists continue to be murdered in Colombia.

The Campesino Association of Catatumbo (Ascamcat) condemned Sunday the murder of its social leader Nelly Amaya, shot various times at her home the night before.

In the communique, the organization expressed its concern that activists were still being murdered in the country while the peace process between the guerrilla rebels and the government was close to putting an end to over 50 years of armed conflict – initially rooted in the campesinos’ struggle for their right to land.

“We firmly believe that all these efforts to reach peace must ... be made concrete from now and ... guarantee the lives of all citizens, including social leaders and human rights activists... Peace is not consolidated iwth just a signature on a peace agreement,” said the communique.

Amaya was leading community actions in the neighborhood of Guamalito, San Calixto.

Nelly Amaya was also one of the few that survived the massacres by paramilitary groups of Patriotic Union members in the late 1980s. The UP is a political party founded after the demilitarization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces agreed in a previous peace process.

Various political leaders paid tribute to the activist on Twitter, including senator and human rights activist Ivan Cepeda, FARC commander Timoleon Jimenez, political parties like the Patriotic Union and the Communist Party, as well as social movements like Justice and Peace and Patriotic March:

“Yesterday was killed in San Calizto Ascamcat leader, Nelly Amaya,”

“San Calixto, north of Santander: Nelly Amaya murdered, social leader of Catatumbo.”

Nelly Amaya murdered, Ascamca leader

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Conditions for rural workers and dwellers in Colombia are still very difficult. Another campesino leader speaking to local media on Sunday criticized the recent rise in food imports (over 7 percent over the last year), urging the government to adopt measures that would support the rural sector.

“Obviously Colombia needs to understand that rural areas are a priority. We have been used to a large amount of food products, but ... we must take the countryside into consideration. It must be a national priority,” said the president of the Colombian Society of Farmers, Rafael Mejia Lopez on Sunday.

The leader demanded, among other reforms, a tax reform for campesinos, as well as measures to protect water resources, as the drought there also contributed to an increased need to import. 

According to the most recent official statement, in the Colombian countryside 0.4 percent of the population owns 44 percent of the land.

ANALYSISLatin America's Future Tied to Sustainable, Subsistence Farming

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