WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

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16 Dec 2020 | News

Massacres and Killings of Social Leaders Impede Peace in Colombia

In recent months, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) has received various requests for the protection of social leaders and ethnic minorities, as well as human rights cases requiring intervention. These have surpassed our staff’s ability to act on all of them in our usual, expeditious manner. As such, we are constrained to publishing alerts in a parceled manner. Below are the first set of cases we’ve received.

We cannot stress enough that international actions are required to stop the human rights rollbacks occurring as a result of the inadequate implementation of the 2016 peace accord, especially the Ethnic Chapter; resistance to advance a humanitarian dialogue with the National Liberation Army (Ejército Nacional de Liberación, ELN) on the part of the Duque administration; and the lack of effective actions to prevent further massacres, killings, and abuses against social leaders, Afro-descendant and Indigenous peoples, and rural communities from taking place.

In particular, we reiterate our concern for the security and safety of Indigenous Senator Feliciano Valencia who suffered an assassination attempt on October 29. For more information on this case, see our statement.

Four Rural Farmers and Land Rights Lawyer Massacred (Sucre)
On October 24, paramilitaries massacred five people in the Calle Nueva hamlet located between the San Benito Abad and San Marcos municipalities. According to Contagio Radio, human rights organizations connect this incident to land reclamation efforts. The Movement of Victims of State Crimes (Movimiento de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado, Movice) of Sucre revealed that the victims included four members of the Committee for the Defense of the Playones and Communal Savannas of San Marcos (Comité de Defensa de los Playones y Sabanas comunales de San Marcos) and a land rights lawyer who accompanied a local case. Days prior, Movice alerted authorities that land claimants were at risk of harm. Alleged links between the local government of San Onofre and the Gulf Clan paramilitary group make the security situation for social leaders and human rights organizations more complex.

Two Massacres in One Weekend (Antioquia and Cauca)
Over the weekend of November 20, two massacres took place in Betania and Algeria, in the departments of Antioquia and Cauca respectively. In Antioquia, preliminary reports account of a raid by armed men on a farm located in La Julia village. There, seven coffee harvesters were killed and another three community members wounded. In Cauca, armed men murdered five people including social leader Libio Chilito, who led the community’s action board.

Assassination of Embera Indigenous Social Leader (Chocó)
On November 15, the Ombudsman’s office condemned the assassination of Indigenous leader Genaro Isabare Forastero of the Embera Dobida Peoples. Alleged Gulf Clan paramilitaries abducted Genaro from his ancestral territory on November 12. Two days later, community members from the Ankozó Catrú and Dubasa reservation, located in Alto Baudó, Chocó department, found his lifeless body with signs of torture. According to reports by El Espectador, Genaro had been working as a teacher in the community but did not continue because of threats made against him by armed groups operating in the area. Guerilla groups like the ELN and paramilitary factions operate to control drug trafficking routes and assassinate Indigenous leaders who oppose their presence.

Social Leader Murdered (North Santander)
On November 3, a hitman killed Jorge Luis Solano Vega in Ocaña, North Santander. Regional human rights groups condemned this crime. The groups vow that Solano Vega’s “unrelenting battle” for the rights of the victims of the internal armed conflict, land claimants, and vulnerable communities will live on past his murder. The Colombian government is urged to investigate this crime and protect the lives of at-risk activists. El Tiempo reported that State authorities arrested Jhon Fredy Espinosa Álvarez, the alleged material author of the crime, but have yet to identify the masterminds.

Afro-Colombian Leader Killed in López de Micay (Cauca)
On November 1, two armed men, allegedly FARC dissidents, murdered Rocío Mantila and Audberto Riascos in Santa Cruz. Another person was injured during this incident. Audberto Riascos was a “convitero” (ethnic authority) of the Black community of Cabecitas. He was killed because the armed actors saw him as an obstacle to their efforts to their territorial control of the area.

Environmental Defender Killed (Chocó)
On October 30, groups reported the murder of Colombian-Spanish activist Juana Perea in Nuquí. Perea was opposed to the construction of Tribugá port, a controversial development project not yet approved by the national government. She was found with a gunshot wound to the head. Perea was in the process of implementing ecotourism projects in the area with a focus on lifting locals out of poverty.

Security Forces Kill Indigenous Baby and Elderly Woman (Amazonas)
On October 28, the Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron (Escuadrón Móvil Antidisturbios, ESMAD) killed an Indigenous baby and elderly woman during the eviction of Indigenous families from their ancestral territory in Leticia, Amazonas department. An estimated 625 families had resettled to this area to avoid exposure to the COVID-19 virus plaguing the region. The lands in question are Indigenous lands appropriated by the State. The organization Justice for Colombia condemned the fact that ESMAD agents raided the community in the early morning using tear gas and batons, badly injuring at least 20 persons.

Community Leader Murdered (Cauca)
On October 26, civil society groups condemned the murder of leader Carlos Navia in El Plateado, Cauca. According to the Institute of Studies for Development and Peace (Instituto de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Paz, Indepaz), the ELN, the Carlos Patiño dissident front of the FARC, and a criminal group known as “Los Pocillos”, as well as others, are active in this region. Indepaz reports that 83 of the 243 leaders’ social leaders killed so far in 2020 were in Cauca. Navia formed part of the National Agrarian Coalition and the People’s Congress and founded the Association of Community Action Boards of Argelia.

Ex-Guerrilla Devoted to Peace Murdered (Meta)
On October 16, unknown armed actors assassinated prominent FARC ex-combatant Albeiro Suárez, who led the former combatant reintegration process in Meta department. Armed men had intimidated and sent death threats to Suarez and others in the La Pista community before his killing. The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship mourned Albeiro’s murder.

Politically Motivated Murders Increased by 80% in October
On November 7, news outlets reported that murders due to political violence in Colombia increased in October by 80%, according to the Resource Center for the Analysis of Conflicts. The murders increased from 10 in August to 18 in October. In the past month, another 5 people were injured, 29 threatened, and one kidnapped. Those targeted were social leaders and activists in the departments of Antioquia, Cauca, Cundinamarca, Chocó, Huila, Nariño, and North Santander.

Prosecutor Denounces Systematic Threats Against Ethnic Leaders (Sucre)
On October 16, Richard Moreno, Deputy Prosecutor of the National Prosecutor’s Office, denounced systematic threats against the Secretary-General of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia, ONIC) Luis Fernando Arias. Moreno also called for the protection of Indigenous leaders Saul Carrillo, Ferney Hernandez, Eder Espitia, Juan Campo, and Arelis Uriana, who received threats from the Gulf Clan paramilitaries. Moreno calls on the government to assume its responsibility in providing individual and collective protection for ethnic leaders. They are victims of a growing physical and cultural extermination because they defend their communities and territories. Moreno urges authorities to move beyond rhetoric and to implement concrete, tangible actions to stop the death and massacres of social and ethnic leaders in the country.

Indigenous Teenager Murdered in Health Facility (Nariño)
On November 5, 18-year-old Diego Fernando González Rodríguez was murdered while receiving medical care at a health services center (Instituciones Prestadoras de Servicios de Salud, IPS). Unknown men exited a car, entered the health facility, approached Diego, and hit him twice, killing him instantaneously. Rodríguez formed part of the Awá indigenous reservation of Pipalta Palbí Yaguapí located in Barbacoas municipality. The Awá Peoples Indigenous Unit (Unidad Indígena del Pueblo Awá, UNIPA) denounced Rodriguez’s murder. The incident took place near UNIPA’s headquarters, where various social leaders meet and is typically considered safe for Awá families.

Two Men Killed in Indigenous Territory (Cauca)
On October 19, the Commission on Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples of Colombia (Comisión de Derechos Humanos de los Pueblos Indígenas de Colombia) rejected the murders of Avelino Ipia and Héctor David Marín in the Guaico Alizal, Cauca. Two hitmen killed the men with blows to the head.

Human Rights Defender and Organization Facing Grave Risk (Valle del Cauca)
On November 11, the Interorganizational Committee for the Defense of Territories Appropriated from the Sea (Comité Interorganizacional por la Defensa de los Territorios Ganados al Mar), a coalition that includes the Black Communities Process of Colombia (Proceso de Comunidades Negras, PCN), the Association for Social Research and Action (Asociación para la Investigación y la Acción Social, NOMADESC), MOVICE, and others issued an urgent action about the security and safety of human rights defender Adriel Ruiz Galván and other members of the Foundation for Coexistence Spaces and Social Development (Fundación Espacios de Convivencia y Desarrollo Social, FUNDESCODES). Ruiz Galván forms part of the Civic Strike Committee for Buenaventura and the Pacific Inter-Ethnic Truth Commission. The State has not responded to these organizations’ requests from June 30 to November 2 asking to protect Ruiz Galván and FUNDESCODES. While they provided authorities with details on the security incidents that FUNDESCODES and others from the Civic Strike Committee for Buenaventura have experienced, authorities have not acted to effectively protect Ruiz Galván and others from harm.

Suspicious Activity Surround Indigenous Wayuu Authorities Headquarters (La Guajira)
On November 17, the Association of Traditional Indigenous Wayuu Authorities “Shipia Wayuu,” reported suspicious activity outside their office. Two suspicious people situated themselves in front of the gates of the headquarters, maintained communications with unknown persons via telephone, took photos, and reported the movement of traditional authorities, bodyguards, and managers. Following protocol, this was reported to the Manaure Police Station at 12:09 p.m. One of the Association’s bodyguards received a call at 12:20 pm, the Police indicated that he was in another address by mistake, knowing that the association is in a place known to the same agents. While a visit by the police was expected at the association’s headquarters in the afternoon, they did not arrive. The suspicious individuals left at approximately 12:40 pm.

Police Injure Teenager During Forced Eradication Operation (Putumayo)
On November 2, in the Perla Amazónica Reserve Zone located in Puerto Asís municipality, two anti-narcotics police helicopters landed officers to begin glyphosate eradication operations. When members of the community tried to dialog with them, the officers launched stun bombs and tear gas, and threatened them with their rifles. As a result, the police damaged the face of a 15-year-old boy. The injured boy was transferred to an urban center for medical treatment and where it was found that he suffered a cranial fracture.

Indigenous Leaders Targeted for Eradicating Coca Crops (Chocó)
On October 31, along the road between Urada and Mutatá, Gulf Clan paramilitary members detained four Emberas from the Nuevo Cañaveral community. Using a hit list, the men looked for the leaders responsible for eradicating 150 hectares of coca crops located in the reservation that they were “protecting.” Since they couldn’t locate the leaders, the armed men warned that no one could travel through the road unidentified and reiterated their intention to kill the leaders. The Inter-Ecclesial Commission for Justice and Peace (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, CIJP) reports that despite precautionary measures adopted for the reserve by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz, JEP), the Colombian State is not meeting its obligations. Rather, it continues to delay tangible protection measures and territorial visibility strategies for coca crop eradication. It shuns realistic solutions to violent dynamics that would facilitate peace accord implementation.

On October 27, Indigenous leader Argemiro Bailarín received anonymous text messages on his National Protection Unit issued phone about plans to assassinate Embera Governor Luis Siniguí. According to the CIJP, since July, the Gulf Clan paramilitary group has sent death threats to Governor Siniguí for his role in promoting coca crop eradication in the Urada Indigenous Reserve. While they’ve demanded that the State protect these communities, it has not adopted appropriate and tangible measures. Most concerning is that these incidents continue to occur with the complicity and inaction of State forces that operate in the territory.

Also, on October 27, AGC paramilitaries detained four indigenous Emberá community members in  New Cañaveral and informed them that they planned to kill the environmental guard. The paramilitaries forced these persons, who were traveling by motorcycle within Mutatá-Pavarandó, to stop in the bakery located at the entrance of the Chontadural Cañaero Indigenous community and remove their helmets. Paramilitaries are ordering people to not wear helmets while driving on the Urada-Mutatá road so they can more easily identify the leaders they are searching for that they want to kill.

Paramilitaries Circulate Death List (Cundinamarca)
On November 16, Luis Ernesto Gómez, Secretary of the Interior (Secretario de Gobierno) in Bogotá, reported that he and other colleagues received death threats from the alleged Capital Bloc of the Black Eagles paramilitaries. In a death threat pamphlet, this group is threatening to kill Gómez and others for “being leaders guided and supported by the FARC.” The targeted officials are signaled out for following the leftist policies of Aída Avella and Iván Cepeda. Gómez believes that these threats have come as a result of their efforts to assign lands and shelter to needy persons in Ciudad Bolivar. However, he asserted on social media that these threats were not going to stop them from guaranteeing peoples’ human rights.

Paramilitaries Displace Afro-Colombian Family (Valle del Cauca)
On October 30, a paramilitary successor group known as La Local threatened to kill two young people. This led to the internal displacement of the two youths and their family from the Piedras Cantan neighborhood of Buenaventura. The two people found shelter in the Puente Nayero Humanitarian Space. The leaders of the Space reported the incident to the police, who escorted the displaced back to their homes. Unfortunately, the family was forced to flee the area due to the risk of retaliation. These threats, attacks, and extortion tactics are constant in Buenaventura and more so in the La Playita neighborhood. The response to these by the authorities is inadequate.

Supreme Court Attacked in Case Against Former President Uribe
On October 16, PBI Colombia interviewed Reynaldo Villalba—Senator Iván Cepeda’s lawyer from the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyer’s Collective (Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo, CCAJAR)—about the background and current status of the Supreme Court case against former President Álvaro Uribe. Villalba expressed concern about the subsequent attacks and political pressure against the Court by supporters of former President Uribe, who seek to discredit the Court and portray Uribe as a victim of political persecution. Villalba characterized the situation as a permanent attack against administering justice.

In August 2020, the Supreme Court ordered former President Uribe be held under house arrest due to allegations of witness tampering. Villalba detailed the case’s legal proceedings and explained that the Court transferred the case to the Attorney General’s Office in September, after what he deemed as a calculated move by Uribe to resign from the Senate. Now that the proceedings of the case are under the Attorney General’s mandate, Villalba is worried that biases and political influences will interfere with justice. Efforts by his political allies to unify different court systems in Colombia, which threaten the country’s independent judiciary system, are also discussed.

Authorities Conduct Surveillance on Journalists Advocating for Peace (Cundinamarca) 
On October 28, peace-related news medium AlCarajo alerted that State authorities are conducting surveillance on Rosalba Alarcón Peña, director and journalist of the organization, as well as journalists Julián Martínez and Levy Rincón. The organization received notice of the surveillance from Richard Maok, a hacker who infiltrated the public prosecutor’s database. According to him, the surveillance began 15 days prior and classified the journalists as “communists who hurt the interests of the State.” Maok fears persecution against him and the targeted journalists. AlCarajo condemned the surveillance as conduct that “stigmatizes and criminalizes the work of journalists and activists who make visible the horrors the Colombian people suffer.” The organization calls on the international community to provide support to all journalists who require protection for their lives and guarantees for their work.

Unionists Threatened After Engaging in Protests (Cundinamarca)
On October 26, all 15 members of the Executive Committee of FECODE, the Colombian Federation of Education Workers, as well as to the President of the Trade Union Confederation, received death threats. This occurred shortly after they engaged in national actions to bring attention to the social, health, education, and economic crises taking place in the country. A funeral wreath with the words “rest in peace” was sent to the union. Carlos Rivas, FECODE’s Secretary for Legal Affairs, received 16 candles and 16 obituary notices with the name of each targeted union leader at his home.

Internal Displacement Disproportionately Affects Ethnic Communities
On November 18, the Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento, CODHES) published its latest report that revealed between January and June 2020, 54 internal displacement episodes occurred, affecting over 18,639 people. Of the total cases identified, 56% are from ethnic backgrounds; 7,000 people are from Afro-descendant communities and 3,421 are from Indigenous communities. Nariño department recorded 18 displacements affecting over 8,514 persons in 2020 thus far, making it the department with the most displacements this year. Antioquia, Cauca, and Chocó also recorded a high number of displacements, which according to Jennifer Gutiérrez, coordinator of CODHES’ Information and Monitoring System, is consistent with data recorded since 2018. CODHES attributes most cases to the presence and violent confrontations of illegal armed groups that operate throughout the country.

Critical Humanitarian Situation in Pacific Coast (Nariño)
A group of human rights organizations, including the Human Rights Network of Nariño’s Pacific (Red de Derechos Humanos del Pacifico Nariñense, RedHPaNa), the Orlando Fals Bord Legal Partner Collective (Colectivo Socio Jurídico Orlando Fals Bord, Colectivo OFB), the Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (Comité en Solidaridad con Presos Políticos, CSPP), the Institute for Peace and Development Studies (Instituto de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Paz, Indepaz), Corporation for the Defense and Advocacy of Human Rights Reiniciar (Corporación para la Defensa y Promoción de los DD.HH.), and the CCAJAR issued an S.O.S. concerning the complicated security and humanitarian situation facing civilians in the Pacific Coast of Nariño. In this missive, the groups condemn the November 11 murder of Elbar Angulo Segura from the Afro-Colombian Community Council of La Nupa in Tumaco. They note that perpetrators killed more than 17 Indigenous persons in multiple rural areas on the coast including the Indigenous Guard Euliquio Pascal Rodriguez and leader Juan Pablo Prada. In addition to Prada’s murder, five other indigenous persons from Sabaleta were killed, three other disappeared, and 500 became internally displaced.

Armed groups are subjecting residents of this area to murders, death threats, persecution, and forced recruitment. According to the rights groups, in October, 20 persons were murdered. The humanitarian situation faced by the AwáIndigenous community, especially those residing in the Piguambi Palangala of Tumaco is atrocious. These civilians are confined in their territory attempting to avoid becoming part of the crossfire taking place among the armed groups. Armed confrontations are taking place daily in this area affecting the civilian population.

Making matters worse, the national police have informed local mayors that they will be forcibly eradicating coca fields utilizing land fumigations. The latter ignores completely what local farmers signed with the authorities in the framework of the peace accord’s voluntary substitution agreements. The human rights groups point out that increased militarization in the area, which is the government’s main response to the security situation, is not working. Rather, the government should meet its obligations by implementing the peace accord that allows for the construction of real alternatives to transform change in this area.

Armed Group Incursion (Putumayo)
On October 25, the Putumayo Human Rights Defenders Network (Red de Defensores de Derechos Humanos del Putumayo), Piedmont Cauca, and Cofania Jardines de Sucumbios denounced an armed incursion by the Mexican Sinaloa Mafia in Yurilla, Putumayo. According to RCN Radio, heavily armed men entered the rural area and may have potentially detained and killed community members. Wilmer Madroñero, Coordinator of the Putumayo Human Rights Defenders Network, is concerned by the state’s passive reaction to these illicit operations, as evidenced by the excessive growth of illegal armed groups in the region and the state’s failure to dismantle them.

Community Protected by IACHR Measures Endures Armed Confrontation (Cauca)
On October 25, armed confrontations between State forces and unidentified armed groups occurred in the El Pedregal de Caloto, Cauca. This community is protected by IACHR precautionary measures. According to the Justice and Dignity Corporation (Corporación Justicia y Dignidad), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ombudsman’s Office, and the Ministry of the Interior should prohibit State forces from engaging in armed incursions in this community. They are demanding that all armed actors immediately leave the area and that authorities provide humanitarian assistance to persons affected by the armed confrontations.

Combat Operations in Ethnic Communities (Putumayo)
On October 13, an armed confrontation between the Commanders of the Border and the dissident Carolina Ramírez Front of the FARC occurred on the border of the Montebello and Dos Quebradas communities in Piñuña Blanco, Puerto Asís. The CIJP reported the clash between the two armed groups lasted over thirty minutes. The Commanders of the Border killed two people earlier that week and have continued to limit the movement of Campesinos in the area.

Since September 2019, the Ombudsman’s Office has warned of violent confrontation among armed actors. Despite ongoing denunciations and alerts, fatal operations by illegal armed groups continue amid a militarized State presence that has increased its forced eradication operations. The CIJP insists the current administration’s ‘peace with legality’ policy in Putumayo is a resounding failure.

Three People Assassinated by Armed Actors (Antioquia)
On November 9, Colombian military general General Juan Carlos Ramírez confirmed that armed actors assassinated three people in the Palermo, Antioquia. The military, alongside police units, are conducting investigations to identify and punish those responsible.

Nine Adolescent Inmates Killed in Fire at Police Station (Cundinamarca)
On November 10, Bogotá Councilman Diego Cancino denounced the actions of police officers during the onset and aftermath of a fire at a Soacha neighborhood police station that killed nine adolescent inmates. Initial reports by the police suggested around 20 inmates ignited a blanket on fire to protest a ban on outside visitors. One inmate died at the scene, eight others died from their injuries the days following the fire, and two others were severely injured. According to testimonies by family members of the deceased, about 20 police officers at the scene did not act proactively to prevent and stop the fire and may have provided the materials to start it. An autopsy allegedly found traces of gasoline on the body of one of the adolescents killed. Councilman Cancino asked the Attorney General’s Office to initiate an investigation into the matter.

Police Version of Death of Gay Afro-Colombian Man in Custody Rejected (Antioquia)
On October 15, Confidencial Colombia reported new developments in the July 26 death of Juan Luis Guzmán—a 21-year-old Gay Afro-Colombian man—at the Arboletes police station. The Medical Examiner’s office (Medicina Legal) released its official autopsy report. The police insist that Juan Luis died by hanging himself from the bars of a holding cell with a pair of underwear. However, the official report ruled out suicide and classified the death as a homicide by strangulation. The autopsy also indicated signs of strong blows to the body. After learning of the official report, the young man’s family pleaded to authorities to speed up the investigation and to identify the agents who participated in this brutal act.

Wayuu Children Continue to Die from Malnutrition (La Guajira)
In 2020, 28 Wayuu children died from famine and water scarcity. The civil society group that monitors the implementation of the Constitutional Court ruling to protect the rights of Wayuu children in Riohacha, Manaure, Maicao, and Uribia asked the Court to stop granting the State new delays for action. Rather, it urged the Court to declare its discontent since the famine continues to kill children. 63 minors died from malnutrition between 2017 and 2020 and infant mortality within La Guajira department is 5 times the national average. Recently, the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar, ICBF) reported 784 minors with acute malnutrition.

Wayuu Children and Adolescents Lacking Basic Rights Amid Crisis (La Guajira)
On November 17, the Shipia Wayuu Association (Asociación Shipia Wayuuurged the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to enforce precautionary measure MC51-15 of 2015 in response to heavy floods affecting the Wayuu Indigenous community, currently enduring humanitarian crises. Under the precautionary measure, the Colombian government is obligated to ensure Wayuu children and adolescents are provided full access to health services, clean water, and food.

Energy Companies Utilize COVID as Excuse to Displace Afro-Colombian Communities (Cesar)
On October 24, the Casimiro Meza Mendoza Community Council (Consejo Comunitario Casimiro Meza Mendozadenounced the forced displacement and relocation processes of several energy companies operating in La Jagua de Ibirico, Cesar. Over the course of 10 years in Boquerón, Afro-Colombians have grappled with environmental pollution caused by open-pit coal mining, which is leading to internal displacement. These issues are due to resource extraction operations carried out by Drummond Ltd., CNR, and Prodecco. The latter have consistently neglected the right to free, prior, and informed consultation of Afro-Colombian communities. Despite resolutions in 2010 enacted by the former Ministry of the Environment, Housing, and Development (Ministerio de Ambiente, Vivienda y Desarollo) to protect these communities, the companies and development entity SOCYA are using the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to bypass appropriate consultation protocols. The Afro-Colombian Casimiro Meza Community Council calls on the companies to fulfill their consultation obligations with appropriate measures in response to the pandemic and to cease racist behaviors against the Boquerón community.

Court Scolds UNP for the Poor Condition of Afro-Colombian Leader’s Vehicle
Afro-Colombian leader Henry Torres Torres has security measures from the National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Protección, UNP) since the entity determined he is at “extraordinary risk” of harm. Torres works in Cauca defending the environment, Afro-Colombian territories, and the cultural practice of artisanal mining. These activities have resulted in Torres suffering threats, displacements, and attacks. On April 22, 2019, unknown men shot at his vehicle. Although he was not in the vehicle, his escorts reported that the gunshots were aimed at the door next to where Torres always sits.

While the UNP has granted Torres measures, they are insufficient and problematic. Torres claims that the UNP does not diligently answer his requests, and they informed him that the armored vehicle he used would be suspended for alleged misuse. Torres distrusts the bodyguards assigned to him, which is why he instead recommends that someone close to his community is assigned to his security detail. Due to the damage wrought upon the armored vehicle, Torres has asked for it to be replaced. Security needs to be extended to include his family, and his car not to be taken away. The UNP responded to this by refusing to acknowledge that the UNP car was in an unacceptable condition. The case was brought before the Constitutional Court that ruled on November 4 the UNP has not acted diligently.

Cimarron Condemns Racial Epithets (Cauca)
On November 17, the National Movement for Afro-Colombian Rights Cimarron (Movimiento Nacional por los Derechos de los Afro-Colombianos, Cimarron) condemned the wave of racist epithets, graffiti, and public commentary in local media that have plagued the city of Popayán in recent months. Since the first Afro-Colombian Governor of Cauca, Elías Larrahondo Carabalí, and Departmental Secretary, Luis Angulo Mosquera, assumed office in February 2020, the colonial buildings in Popayán have been covered with offensive, racist, hateful remarks. These include “no more n*ggers,” “kill all n*ggers,” “kill all the Blacks,” and “Black SOBs.” The racial hatred intensified in November when various radio show hosts began to make racist comments and to ridicule the Afro-descendant linguistic accent and expressions of Mosquera. Such racist acts should be immediately condemned by officials of the national government and sanctions placed against the perpetrators of these racist acts.

U’wa Case Referred to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights
On October 21, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights referred the U’wa Indigenous persons case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The case relates to the lack of effective protection of the U’wa people’s ancestral property rights, as well as the execution of a series of oil, mining, tourism, and infrastructure, to the detriment of their rights. The report presented to the Commission recognized that the internal armed conflict severely victimized the U’wa People, to the point of being in danger of extinction. It concluded that the Colombian State failed to comply with collective property rights, the right to free and informed prior consultation, and other political and cultural rights. The Commission recommends that the State make full reparation for the consequences of the violations declared in its report.

On a more positive note:
Mobilization of Former Combatants Calling for Accord Implementation (Arauca)
On October 28, the Departmental Council for Peace, Reconciliation, Coexistence, and Non-Stigmatization of Arauca (Consejo Departamental de Paz, Reconciliación, Convivencia, y No Estigmatización de Arauca) expressed its support for a pilgrimage for life and peace, organized in coordination with the National Council for Reincorporation (Consejo Nacional de Reincorporación). Former combatants peacefully mobilized to draw attention to President Iván Duque, different State institutions, and the international community about the urgent need to fully implement the 2016 peace accord and provide security guarantees to former combatants. At the time of the statement, since the FARC’s disarmament process, over 236 former combatants have been killed. The Council characterized the situation as a political genocide and called on civil, military, and ecclesiastical authorities, humanitarian organizations, and political and social forces to welcome the “pilgrims of peace,” listen to them, and provide moral and emotional support to successfully carry out their mobilization.