The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) strongly condemns the murder of Afro-Colombian leader Miller Angulo Rivera. Mr. Rivera was shot dead by assassins on December 1 in the Pacific Coast City of Tumaco. He was 33 years old and is survived by his wife and two children. WOLA expresses its deepest condolences to Mr. Rivera’s family.
A member of the Association of Internally Displaced Afro-Colombians (Asociación Nacional de Afrocolombianos Desplazados, AFRODES), Mr. Rivera advocated for the rights of displaced Afro-Colombians and served as Technical Secretary of the Municipal Board of Victims in Tumaco. He was an active leader in the movement to defend the land rights of Afro-Colombian communities. WOLA had collaborated with him in efforts to defend the rights of Afro-Colombians displaced by violence. His death occurred after he had received various death threats from two paramilitary groups, The Black Eagles and the Anti-Restitution Group of Nariño (GAR).
Mr. Rivera’s murder, after he had received several death threats, makes clear that these threats must be taken seriously, that their origin must be investigated, and that those named must be afforded protection. On November 13, The Black Eagles issued a death threat listing AFRODES and a long list of WOLA’s closest Afro-Colombian partners, including several Afro-Colombian regional and women’s organizations in the areas of Choco, Cundinamarca, Nariño, Valle del Cauca and Cauca. In conjunction with a several of the groups listed on the November 13 threat, WOLA reported it to the Colombian and U.S. authorities, who have yet to act to appropriately protect the persons concerned.
WOLA is extremely concerned about the safety of AFRODES’s leadership, and in particular that of the 22 leaders who have requested protection from the National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Protección) and not yet received it. Human rights conditions attached by the U.S. Congress to U.S. military aid to Colombia tie assistance to the Colombian authorities’ commitment to protect Afro-Colombian leaders. We urge the State Department to convey to the Colombian authorities the importance of ensuring protection for the threatened leaders. We also call for an immediate investigation into Mr. Rivera’s murder that leads to the perpetrators being brought to justice.
In 2010, AFRODES was honored with WOLA's Human Rights Award for its ten-plus years defending the rights of Afro-Colombians displaced from their homes.
"Afro-Colombian Leader Murdered in Tumaco" (AFRODES, 2012. Spanish only)
"WOLA and Colombian Human Rights Organizations Receive Death Threat" (Press release, 2010)