WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

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31 Mar 2022 | News

Colombia’s Puerto Leguízamo: Military Operation or Extrajudicial Killings?

In Colombia, the massacres and attacks against social leaders between January 2022 and March 2022 occurred at a greater rate than in the same time frame in 2021, according to the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Instituto de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Paz, INDEPAZ). In 2022, 48 social leaders were assassinated while in 2021 it was 42. In 2021, 23 massacres with 84 victims took place while in 2021 there have been 27 massacres with 94 victims. As for former FARC combatants, 14 were killed in 2021 and 11 in 2022. These trends are concerning and require that U.S. policymakers prioritize addressing the human rights situation in Colombia and help foster a context for dialogues.

In this edition of abuses reported to WOLA requiring international action, we ask that you immediately contact Colombian authorities about the incident that took place on March 28 in Puerto Leguízamo, Putumayo department. On that day, 11 persons were killed by the Colombian armed forces. The Minister of Defense and President Duque claimed in the press and social media that those who were “neutralized” were killed within the context of an armed operation and belonged to illegal armed groups. However, testimonies of the survivors and victims of the family members state that persons killed were civilians.

According to the National Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (Organización Nacional de los Pueblos Indígenas de la Amazonia Colombiana, OPIAC), what the government has deemed as an alleged confrontation between state forces and FARC dissidents resulted in the assassination of nine individuals and the capture of four others. They report that the national army arrived at a local market where individuals were raising funds for neighborhood needs. Once there, the army opened fire in an indiscriminate manner against the fundraiser’s attendees killing nine people. Among those killed were Pablo Panduro Coquinche, an Indigenous Authority and Governor of the Kitcwhwa people.

We strongly urge U.S. policymakers to demand that the Colombian President’s office and Colombian Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzon immediately clarify this incident. An independent and transparent investigation containing judicial authorities must determine exactly what happened, whether extrajudicial killings were committed, and take appropriate measures to sanction those responsible if this is the case. Until these investigations and actions occur, the U.S. Congress should freeze U.S. military assistance to Colombia since there are indications, that if proven true, this is a major breach of the human rights conditions tied to U.S. security assistance.


Attacks Against Civil Society
Two Prominent Social Leaders Murdered (Bolívar)
On February 22, armed actors murdered social leaders Teófilo Manuel Acuña Ribón and Jorge Tafur in San Martín municipality, Bolívar department. According to the National Agrarian Coordinator (Asociación Nacional Campesino, CNA), the social leaders had recently denounced threats and harassment by the mayor and police in San Martín municipality against victims of state violence. Teófilo Acuña was a well-known campesino leader, spokesman for the People’s Congress, and President of the Agrominer Federation of southern Bolívar (Fedeagromisbol). Jorge Tafur participated in the advocacy of the National Association of Campesinos (Asociación Nacional de Usuarios Campesinos, ANUC), Fedeagromisbol, and the board of the National Agrarian Coordinator. WOLA and 19 other international civil society organizations called on the Colombian government to undertake prompt investigations into the murders and demanded real action and protection measures from the Iván Duque administration.

Disappeared Indigenous Leader Found Dead from Multiple Gunshot Wounds (Nariño)
On February 22, after he was missing for 24 hours,  El Contraste reported Indigenous 34-year-old Bolívar Lavin Delgado dead from gunshots by unidentified actors. Delgado belonged to the Piguambí Palangala Resguardo of the Awá community in the rural area of Tumaco and was part of the Indigenous Guard. Unidentified actors kidnapped him after he left home to fish on Sunday night. The Indigenous Guard led a search committee and found his lifeless body with gunshots and his motorcycle stolen. According to the Indigenous leaders of the Awá community, seven members of the community were murdered in the last two years. Illegal armed groups and security forces have also committed violence against the Awá community and other marginalized Indigenous communities through internal displacement, confinement, and kidnapping. The Piguambí Palangala people called for the national government to ensure protection of the Awá community and the rest of the population living in threatened rural areas.

ELN Guerrillas Kill Afro-Colombian Leader (Chocó)
On February 23, according to Análisis Urbano, ELN guerrillas shot and killed social leader Julio Victoria Cárdenas, President of the Community Council and member of the Cimarrona Guardia del Litoral San Juán in Chocó department. On this date, Cardenás was the thirty-first social leader assassinated in 2022.

Campesino Leader, Human Rights Defender Attacked (Santander)
On February 27, armed men on motorcycles in Barrancabermeja, Santander department shot at human rights defender and campesino leader Carlos Arturo Morales Mallorga, his wife, and his five-year-old son. Both he and his wife were injured but are now in stable condition. Morales Mallorga is the president of the Humanitarian Action Corporation for Coexistence and Peace in Northeast Antioquia (Cahucopana), an organization of 150 members that has consistently denounced human rights violations in the region since 2004. Morales Mallorga previously faced trumped up charges and is even a beneficiary of precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Cahucopana denounced the attack and called on the Colombian government to conduct prompt investigations into the incident and to provide appropriate protection to Morales Mallorga and his family.

Social Leader Assassinated (Bolívar)
On March 5, armed men assassinated Eduardo Emilio Vanegas Mendoza in Barranco de Loba municipality, Bolívar department. Mendoza was a recognized leader, President of the Mining Community Action Board of the Mejía People (Junta de Acción Comunal Minera de Pueblito Mejía) and a victim of internal displacement. The two men intercepted and attacked him on his way to La Riqueza with three other people. Mendoza died upon arrival at the hospital, and the other three individuals were wounded. The Ombudsman’s office had previously published Early Warning Alert 020/2020 for the municipalities of Altos del Rosario, Barranco de Loba, Norosí and Tiquisio in the Bolívar department.

Union Leader Attacked (Valle del Cauca)
On March 9, the Central Unit of Sub directive Workers (Central Unitaria de Trabajadores Subdirectiva) and the Solidarity Committee of La Cut (Comité de Solidaridad de La Cut) denounced an attack on Néstor Fabio Viafara Olaya, President of Sintrapub and Vice President of the Southwestern Funtramiexco Federation, and all instances of internal displacement, persecutions, and assassinations of social leaders. They called for the national and international community to stand in solidarity against human rights violations against members of Sintrapub.

Prominent Indigenous Leader Assassinated (Cauca)
On March 14, according to the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca, CRIC), community members in Popayán, Cauca department found the lifeless body of Indigenous leader Miller Correa, council member of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (Asociación de Cabildos Indígenas del Norte del Cauca, ACIN) and human rights defender. His lifeless body with gunshot wounds was found abandoned on the road to Tambo. Indigenous authorities led investigations that traced the murder back to illegal armed groups. The CRIC vehemently condemned the assassination, and according to its Human Rights and Defense of Life Observatory, there were 314 registered assassinations of Indigenous authorities and community members between 2019 and 2022. INDEPAZ has also documented that the armed actors have assassinated 1,286 social leaders since the 2016 peace accord—339 of them were human rights defenders and 162 of them were Indigenous leaders. CRIC denounced the systematic extermination of Colombia’s Indigenous peoples and called for the international community, the national government, and civil society organizations to stand in solidarity with those fighting for human rights. They also demanded that the legal and illegal armed actors exit occupied Indigenous territories immediately.

On March 17, WOLA and 27 other international civil society organizations denounced Correa’s assassination. The organizations demand that the Colombian state conduct investigations that identify and bring to justice the material and intellectual authors responsible for this atrocious crime. Amid increasing violence against social leaders and human rights defenders in Colombia, state entities must duly address the constant messages of concern and requests for protection from Indigenous communities.

Raizal Singer Killed (San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina)
On March 15, according to INFOBAE, Colombian singer and celebrity Fabian “Hety” Pérez was shot in his home on San Andrés island. Hety was to be treated for vascular damage caused by one of the bullets; however, the transfer was suspended due to his state of critical condition and died shortly after. Hety was a member of the popular Colombian musical duo “Zambo” and an ambassador for Raizal and Creole cultures. Author Camila Rivera González regarded Hety as a pacifist, a “saltwater titan” as she described the three heart attacks he suffered during his initial transfer to the hospital. The death of Hety caused mass youth-led protests to erupt across the city as those of the Raizal diaspora felt the loss of one of their community members and leaders.

Media Outlet and Journalists Under Grave Threat
On March 17, La Nueva Prensa—an investigative media outlet—denounced continuous attacks and threats carried out against its staff members as a result of journalistic investigations allegedly linking drug trafficking schemes to former President Álvaro Uribe Vélez, current President Iván Duque, and Vice President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucía Ramírez. These attacks have included recurring death threats against the media outlet’s director Gonzalo Guillen, lawyer Miguel del Río, and former policeman Wadith Velásquez, and journalist Julián Martínez. They are targets of assassination plans by the hitmen from the criminal organization Office of Envigado (Oficina de Envigado). La Nueva Prensa holds the Duque administration responsible for any subsequent incidents that threaten or violate the physical and psychological integrity of its journalists and called on national and international organizations to monitor freedom of press in Colombia.

Cultural Extermination of Indigenous Communities (Valle del Cauca)
On March 19, the Communities Constructing Peace in Colombia (Comunidades Construyendo Paz en Colombia, CONPAZ COL) denounced the cultural and physical extermination of the Wounaan Indigenous community in Valle del Cauca department. The extermination of the Wounaan people began with the displacement of the Wounaan in Bajo San Juan municipality in 2009, despite constitutional court-ordered protection. In Buenaventura municipality, there are two settlements of Wounaan people, the Wounaan Phobor and the Wounaan Nonam, that are part of the greater Santa Rosa de Guayacan reservation; these communities consistently suffer threats of displacement with no action by the Colombian state. The statement recalled an agreement made on March 19 and 20 of this year that would relocate the communities to a safer location–however, delays continue to impede progress.

Social Leader Assassinated by Armed Actors (Cauca)
On March 20, according to INDEPAZ, armed men shot and killed Richard Betancourt, who was the President of the Community Action Board of Santa Clara in Argelia municipality, Cauca department. Betancourt advanced initiatives to help victims of internal displacement. Eight days before the attack, there were reports of clashes between FARC dissidents and the ELN. The Ombudsman’s office posted an Early Warning Alert 010/2020 for the municipalities of Argelia and El Tambo that warned of armed clashes, which generated anxiety amongst civilians. Interest in geographic regions near the Pacific have caused an escalation of conflict against civilians by illegal armed groups. As of this date, Betancourt was the 43rd leader assassinated in 2022.

Indigenous Authorities Condemn Attacks Against Indigenous and Social Leaders (Valle del Cauca)
On March 21, the Government Council of the Valle Del Cauca Regional Indigenous Organization (Consejeria de Gobierno Propio de la Organización Regional Indígena Valle Del Cauca, ORIVAC) publicly condemned the attack against Indigenous and social leaders in the Valle del Cauca department. According to ORIVAC, the attacks followed the circulation of a pamphlet on WhatsApp that falsely accused the leaders as “guerilla leftists’’ and named specific individuals for the attack. The organization holds the Duque administration responsible for the abandonment of Indigenous leaders, the violation of human rights committed against them, and the systemic assassination of Indigenous communities. ORIVAC also called for support from several national and international organizations and the UN Verification Mission to address the humanitarian crisis of Indigenous peoples in Valle del Cauca department.

Community Leader Assassinated (Valle del Cauca)
On March 22, according to the Communal Action of Colombia (Acción Comunal de Colombia), FARC dissidents assassinated 48-year-old social leader Richard Nilson Betancourth Rengifo in Argelia municipality, Valle del Cauca department. Nilson was president of the Community Action Board (Junta de Acción Comunal) and was responsible for leading investigations on displaced families as a result of paramilitary conflicts. He was shot multiple times and his body was found near his home with a sign that read “For the collaborator of the patiños: sincerely, the Diomer Cortés Segunda Marquetalia front of the FARC.” As of this date, Nilson was the 43rd social leader killed this year.

Indigenous Leaders and Children Killed
On March 24, the United Nations Human Rights Special Procedures issued an official statement rejecting the assassinations, attacks, and threats against human rights defenders and Indigenous leaders. Over the last months, there were various threats against the Indigenous Nasa People, their leaders, and their authorities. On January 24, José Albeiro Camayo Güetio was killed in the presence of his 13-year-old son, and two other 14-year-old boys were killed and kidnapped. The armed actors are believed to form part of a non-state armed group that has occupied the Indigenous reserve Las Delicias, in Buenos Aires municipality, Cauca department. The group also killed Guillermo Chicame Ipia and 14-year-old Breiner David Cucuñame López on January 14, and Marcos Fidel Camayo Güetio on November 21, 2021. The statement called on the local and national government to investigate these cases, issue reparations for the families of the victims, create functioning prevention and protection methods for community members, and dismantle armed groups that control the Nasa territory.

President of Community Action Board Threatened (Valle del Cauca)
On March 24, the Association for Research and Social Action (Asociación para la Investigación y la Acción Social, NOMADESC) published an alert on the threat against the President of the Community Action Board in the Isla de la Paz neighborhood in Buenaventura municipality, Valle del Cauca department. The alert discussed the various attacks against the president and social leader, John Janer Panameño, throughout March. NOMADESC called for international human rights organizations to help protect the territorial rights of Indigenous and Afro descendant peoples.

Report of Violence and Attacks Against Ethnic Communities (Cauca)
On March 26, the Coordination of Community Councils and Grassroots Organizations of the Black People of Cauca’s Pacific Coast (Coordinación de Consejos Comunitarios y Organizaciones de Base del Pueblo Negro de la Costa Pacífica del Cauca, COCOCAUCAreleased a report on the violence instigated by armed groups during legislative elections in the Pacific coast of Cauca department. The report detailed several cases of death, assassinations, and human rights abuses against Indigenous leaders, community members, and Afro-Colombian social leaders. On March 13, unidentified actors assassinated 37-year-old David Colorado. On March 20, FARC dissidents assassinated Domingo Cundumí. The report also mentioned explosive bombs placed in public locations such as the Guapi municipality in Cauca on March 17, which caused a panic amongst the public, with students, teachers, staff, and health officials and patients having had to evacuate the area until the following day. There were also statements on a 21-year-old disappeared youth, the assassination of Federico Torres Perlaza on March 11 and of Jaime Hurtado Viveros on March 7th. COCOCAUCA demanded the protection of current social leaders, ask FARC dissidents and the ELN to cease violent operations and attacks, and for the state, national, and international organizations to align themselves with COCOCAUCA to address the humanitarian crisis at hand and protect the fundamental and territorial human rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Death Threats Against Social Leader Continue (Putumayo)
On March 27,  the Intereclesial Commission for Justice and Peace (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, CIJP) revealed two new sources warning of serious threats against Jani Silva’s life. For the last three weeks, Silva and her assigned National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Protección, UNP) guards have been followed and photographed as they completed daily routines – a continuation of the criminal plans, illegal profiling, and threats against Silva over the last two years. The Commanders of the Border, a paramilitary group, took territorial control and remained present in Puerto Asís, Putumayo department in 2018, forcing Silva’s internal displacement for the last four years. Silva is a spokesperson for Somos Génesis: an organization that proposes a global humanitarian agreement and global territorial peace for all. The threats against her and other human rights defenders and armed conflicts continue to be ignored by the Duque administration.

Indigenous Groups Denounce Threats Against Leaders (Cauca)
On March 27, the National Commission on the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos de los Pueblos Indígenas) rejected new threats against the cultural and physical integrity of Indigenous communities in Cauca department, along with the hundreds of cases of violence against Indigenous Peoples in the region. On March 24, a pamphlet signed by the Southwestern Bloc of the Black Eagles (Águilas Negras) paramilitary was sent to Indigenous authorities; it targeted prominent social leaders such as Senator Feliciano Valencia, Vice Presidential Candidate Francia Márquez, and the Senator-elect Aida Quilcué in addition to members of the ACIN, the Colombian Merchants Association (Asociación De Comerciantes De Colombia, ASOCOMC), the Association of Community Councils in Northern Cauca (Asociación de Consejos Comunitarios del norte del Cauca, ACONC), and INDEPAZ. Additionally, council member Miller Correa was assassinated this month, his death mentioned and premeditated in previous pamphlets; this only increases the risk for those mentioned in the newest edition. The Commission, united with Indigenous leaders, authorities, and communities, continues to denounce the human rights abuses against Indigenous Peoples, calling on the interior ministry and other state actors to protect these peoples and defend their rights to life.

Afro-Colombian Vice-Presidential Candidate Receives Death Threats
On March 27, Francia Marquez, Afro-Colombian social leader and Vice Presidential Candidate to Petro Gustavo, tweeted about receiving another letter from the Black Eagles (Águilas Negras) paramilitary threatening her life and the lives of other social leaders. The candidate asked President Duque to guarantee her and her family’s safety, and that of the other leaders.

Indigenous Authorities Reject Assassination of Governor (Chocó)
On March 30, the authorities of the Indigenous Working Group of Chocó (Mesa Indígena del Chocó) issued a public statement rejecting the assassination of Indigenous governor Sercelino Lana in the Medio Atrato municipality, Chocó department. On March 25, Governor Lana was surrounded by armed Gulf Clan paramilitary members who took him inside, killed him, and left his body in the water. His lifeless body was found floating on the surface on the following Monday. Lana was the Governor of the Tamando community and his death forcibly orphaned his three sons. The Indigenous movement of Chocó called for armed groups to respect the human rights of the Indigenous peoples and communities, and for these groups to be removed from their territories. The statement also placed responsibility on the national government for the systematic extermination of Indigenous leaders, and their inability to protect these vulnerable populations.


Massacre on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast (La Guajira)
On March 1, according to INDEPAZ, armed hitmen massacred three people, one of them identified as Alex Chacin, in an open fire shooting at a household in the Maicao municipality, La Guajira department. Of the three victims, two died on impact and the third died enroute to the hospital. The Ombudsman’s Office released a report warning the public of illegal armed groups and transnational armed groups. The presence of these groups in the area is especially threatening to civilians living on the periphery and those in rural areas, mainly because of their control over irregular border crossings and human settlements. The incident marked the 20th documented massacre of 2022 in Colombia.

Two Girls and Youth Massacred (Antioquia)
On March 16, armed men entered a house in Venecia municipality, Antioquia department and opened fire, instantly killing three unidentified Venezuelans: two girls of 14 and 15 years old, and one 24-year-old young man. The Governor of Antioquia, Aníbal Gaviria, publicly denounced the attack and reassured that security agencies were investigating the murders.

Massacre by Armed Actors (Valle del Cauca)
On March 28, armed actors massacred three people in Buga municipality, Valle del Cauca department. The three individuals were killed by open fire and identified as 38-year-old Gabriel Gaudy León Castillo, 20-year-old Jesús Rafael Merentes Castillo, and 25-year-old Darwin Yonaique Portales. The illicit economies in these municipalities aid illegal and legal actors in financing the armed conflict through drug trafficking. The primary armed actors that are present in the region are members of the ELN and the Gulf Clan.


Armed Conflict/Illegal Armed Groups/Femicides
Humanitarian Situation Left Unresolved (Santander)
On February 14, the Regional Corporation for the Defense of Human Rights (Corporación Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, CREDHOS) circulated a public urgent action calling for the protection of and human rights guarantees for social leaders, politicians, the LGBTQ+ community, human rights defenders, environmentalists, and labor unions. The report condemned six crimes committed against these individuals by the Gulf Clan paramilitary group and provided context for the humanitarian crisis in the Magdalena Medio region. According to the urgent action, the armed conflict, guerilla groups such as the ELN, FARC dissidents, and paramilitary groups, and mining and fracking have caused shortages of clean water, energy, and other basic needs for displaced Afro and Indigenous communities. CREDHOS called on the interior ministry, the public ministry, and other authorities to implement protection plans for these communities under specific pre-established human rights accords.

Armed Conflict in the Pacific Coast (Cauca)
On February 22, COCOCAUCA reported on armed confrontations between the National Liberation Army (Ejérctio de Liberación Nacional, ELN) and FARC dissidents. These confrontations resulted in a young female student injured by a stray bullet, among many other victims. Several students had to be taken to the nearest hospital as they were caught in the crossfire during their recess period. COCOCAUCA also reported several murders as a result of the conflict, including policeman Anderson Dario Montenegro in the area of Lopez de Micay on February 20. The confrontations resulted in a total of four civilian murders. COCOCAUCA advocates for peace and justice as the resurgence of internal armed conflict in Cauca’s Pacific coast continues.

22-Year-Old Girl Found Dead in Landfill by Femicide (Valle del Cauca)
On March 1, according to the Pacific’s Interethnic Truth Commission (Comisión interétnica de la verdad de la región del Pacífico, CIVP), community members in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca department found the body of 22-year-old Lina Liceth Rivas Caicedo in a landfill. The CIVP heavily condemned the femicide of Rivas Caicedo and alerted the international community about the ongoing violence against women in Valle del Cauca department. The CIVP denounced sexual violence, threats, and persecution against women, in addition to a mandate that silences women who face these forms of harassment in many parts of the department.

Transitional Justice Tribunal Urges Government to Dismantle Illegal Armed Groups
On March 1, according to INDEPAZ, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz, JEP) urged the central government to take action on dismantling illegal armed groups by creating and implementing a plan for the National Commission for Security Guarantees (Comisión Nacional de Garantías de Seguridad, CNGS). The JEP requested that the Prosecutor’s Office initiate the necessary disciplinary investigations since, after five years, there is still no concerted policy on combating organized armed groups. After February 28, the magistrates concluded that there is no clarity on how CNGS plans to confront these issues, despite the assassination of 306 former combatants of the FARC, including ten women and one of them an Indigenous person from Cauca department.

Afro-Colombian Peace Council Supports Humanitarian Efforts of the Catholic Church (Chocó)
On March 3, the National Afro-Colombian Peace Council (Consejo Nacional de Paz Afrocolombiano, CONPA) expressed their support for the Catholic church’s humanitarian efforts in Chocó department. The church has worked to raise awareness for the ongoing humanitarian crisis affecting Afro-Colombians throughout the country amid escalating internal armed conflicts. CONPA applauded the church for their creation of open dialogues across different municipalities, for advocating for the implementation of the 2016 peace accord’s Ethnic Chapter, and for calling for humanitarian agreements. They also issued a formal thank you to the President of the Colombian Episcopal Conference, Monsignor Luis José Rueda Aparicio, the secretary general, and other bishops who have shown and continue to show solidarity for Afro-Colombians facing humanitarian crises.

Illegal Armed Groups Attempt to Overtake Mining Economies (Magdalena Medio)
On March 7, CREDHOS warned of the ongoing humanitarian crises and crimes against human rights defenders in the Magdalena Medio region. CREDHOS previously published similar statements in December 2021 and February 2022. In this latest statement, CREDHOS condemned the expansion of illegal armed groups—namely the Gulf Clan, the ELN, and FARC dissidents—who have continuously attempted to take control of local mining economies. The operations of these illegal armed groups have resulted in grave human rights violations including the internal displacement of environmental leaders and the assassinations of campesino leaders who have publicly opposed extractivist mining projects, particularly in the Puerto Wilches municipality. CREDHOS specifically mentioned the February 22 murder of Teofilo Acuña and Jorge Tafur that occurred in San Martín municipality, Cesar department and the attack on Luis Acevedo, president of the Community Action Board of Yanacué in the Cantagallo municipality, Bolívar department on the same day. CREDHOS denounced all hostage, persecution, and attacks on campesino communities and leaders and expressed their solidarity in demanding investigations for these attacks.

Paramilitary Group Infiltrates Indigenous Village (Chocó)
On March 10, the CIJP reported ten armed men dressed in camouflage with the Gulf Clan insignia entering the Alto Guayabal Humanitarian Reserve in Carmen del Darien municipality, Chocó department. The environmental guard spotted the men walking along the Jiguamiando river and prevented them from entering the village, and the paramilitary members retreated to the river. The guard remained vigilant for any mobility and advancement of the group and developed security strategies in case of their advancement. The expansion of mining businesses creates threats for the Indigenous Embera people living in the reserve. CIJP reported that these communities are living in anxiety and fear as the extractive mining business continues to violate the rights of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations in the areas of Jiguamiandó and Murindó.

Woman’s Lifeless Body Found in Trunk of Car, Death by Femicide (Magdalena Medio)
On March 22, CREDHOS denounced the femicide of 41-year-old Johana Paola Chávez Guzmán, owner of a local bar “La Tertulia” and mother of a 10-year-old girl in Barrancabermeja. Guzmán’s lifeless body was found dismembered and decomposing in the trunk of a car on March 21. In their statement, CREDHOS expresses solidarity with the friends and family of Guzmán as they continue the investigation of her death to find the actor(s) responsible. They also rejected other femicides that have occurred in Colombia throughout the year, namely Sedigne, María Angélica, Maylen, and María Esneda. The statement condemned the institutional violence against women that erases these cases in the ineffective justice system, and asked for the Attorney General’s office to accelerate the investigation for these women under feminicide law 1761 established in July of 2015.


Labor and Afro-Colombian Rights
Afro-Colombian Communities Demand Input on Rural Reform Cadaster
On February 24, Colombia’s Black Communities Process (Proceso de Comunidades Negras, PCN) and CONPA, who form part of the Special High Level Instance for Ethnic Peoples (Instancia Especial de Alto Nivel para Pueblos Étnicos, IEANPE), published a statement with suggested policy recommendations for the Multipurpose Cadaster and Social Ordering of Rural Property (Catastro Multipropósito y de Ordenamiento Social de la Propiedad Rural, OSPR). The OSPR, created in the Integral Rural Reform (Reforma Rural Integral) chapter of the 2016 peace accord, is designed to prioritize the sustainable use of rural land through administering proper titling of land in agrarian and judicial processes.

PCN and CONPA explain that ethnic communities have a historical right to contribute to the economic and social progress of Colombia, especially to guarantee the safety and collective rights of Afro descendant communities. Their framework calls for active participation of Afro descendant communities, transparency, the creation of forum and dialogue spaces, and the adherence to environmental protection laws and the Ethnic Chapter of the 2016 peace accord. They also called for support from multilateral organizations, including the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank in requiring the participation of Afro descendant communities, to activate social and environmental safeguard policies, and for funders to push for the participation of Afro-Colombians in any dialogue about the project. PCN and CONPA also called on United States representatives and the Biden administration to create strong alliances with Afro-Colombian communities as a sign of support.

Local Solidarity Committee Protests Labor Violations by Multinational (Valle del Cauca)
On March 17, the Committee for Solidarity and Labor Union for Colgate Palmolive Workers (Sindicato De Trabajadores De Colgate Palmolive Y Cia, Sintracolpa) organized a protest against the Colgate Palmolive company and their alleged violations of labor laws and workers’ rights. The company increased levels of outsourcing for production jobs and hired third parties, which has led to the reduction of jobs in the local plant. This process has violated the fundamental rights of workers and increased unemployment rates. The Committee and Sintracolpa called for delegates and multilateral organizations to be present at the protest as a sign of solidarity for the cause.