Colombia’s Killing Fields

In Colombia, the last week has been a particularly bloody one for indigenous leaders. In the state of Cauca, just south of the major city of Calí, the indigenous governor Edwin Dagua Ipia was assassinated after having received numerous death threats from paramilitaries in the area. He is one of at least ten indigenous people murdered in the country just in the last week.

In fact, according to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), more than 100 assassinations of human rights advocates and members of marginalized and oppressed communities have taken place just in 2018. There is a sense among observers that the killings have escalated since the election of Ivan Duque, the young right wing president and close ally of former president and international criminal Alvaro Uribe.

In a damning report published by the Consultancy on Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES), the human rights NGO noted that 35% of the social leaders and activists murdered belonged to ethnic minorities (19% Afro-Colombian, 15% indigenous), a staggering figure which demonstrates just how targeted those groups are, considering the proportion of violence with which they’re targeted versus their total share of the national population. Moreover, CODHES indicated that:

“Approximately 50 percent of the victims were authorities or representatives of ethnic territories and organizations. Another 36 percent were community or union leaders, 8 percent land rights claimants and 6 percent are members of…

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