On Tuesday, Colombian 32-year-old social leader Elizabeth Mendoza was murdered along with her husband, son, and nephew in her house at the Chaparral municipality in the Tolima department.
Some Policy Challenges for the Next President of Colombia
"We ask to expedite investigations into this crime, which we reject with deep sorrow. Actions like this cannot continue occurring in our department," Tolima Governor Ricardo Orozco said.
Mendoza, the Calarca Tetuan sidewalk Communal Action Board (JAC) leader, was recognized by the Interior Ministry and the Chaparral Municipality Mayor's Office for negotiating her town's route pavement.
While lamenting her death, Marinella Sanchez, the Calarma district Women Producers Association leader, described Mendoza as "an exemplary woman who worked day and night to help her community."
The Chaparral Mayor Hugo Arce explained that the Prosecutor's Office disposed of a specialized team to investigate the case. Nevertheless, he stressed that people who provide information about the crime would receive a US$12,000 reward.
"There is no indication that these murders have anything to do with Mendoza's activity as a social leader. However, investigations must still progress," Arce stated. So far this year, the Colombian Institute for Development and Peace Studies (INDEPAZ) registered 44 massacres, of which 79 social leaders died.
After the assassination of Mendoza and her family, the National Ombudsman Office issued an alert for the Ataco, Chaparral, Planadas, and Rio Blanco municipalities for risks of forced displacement and attacks against the civilian population.