Elections are on the horizon in Colombia, and violence and insecurity are already ramping up to concerning levels. Though campaigns have not officially begun, there are already 80 victims – including 18 precandidates – according to a new report by the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation’s information unit.
Traditionally, violence is just another mechanism of electoral competition.
The Peace and Reconciliation Foundation
Between November and April, four people were murdered and one is missing. Local politicians face the most persecution: 33 councilors, four deputies and one mayor have been victims of violence.
At the local level, three corruption whistleblowers, five public officials and one indigenous leader have also been targeted. At the national level, seven congressmen have suffered violence.
21% of incidents were carried out against government-affiliated individuals, and 35% against opposition politicians. The criminal group Aguilas Negras target opposition groups, though no murders can be attributed to them.
80% of perpetrators are unidentified, a cause for serious concern according to the foundation: more national attention and state action is needed.
We are calling for the attention of the Attorney General’s Office, because there is no known author and they have to investigate in order to prevent more of this violence. If things go on like this – if there is no investigation – this is going to get very ugly in the local elections.
Leon Valencia, director of the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation
Victims are from 20 departments of the country, with Valle de Cauca seeing the most violence: two murders, one attempted murder and seven individuals facing threats on their lives.
These figures do not include the murder of social leaders, which has also reached record levels in Colombia this year.
In Colombia, electoral violence is linked not only to the local dynamics of local conflict and criminality, but also political corruption. The dynamics of violence in mainstream politics often relate directly to armed groups, who coexist and even cooperate with the State and its officials in order to maintain control of territory, the report says.