Land claimant killed in northwest Colombia

A land claimant in Northwest Colombia was killed on Thursday, making him the 10th person from the Association of Natural Land and Life to be killed in the past three years.

The body of Alejandro Padilla was found near a bridge in the rural area of Uraba. He had been a motorcycle taxi driver in the area and according to his relatives, he had received a phone call and went out the previous night to pick up a client. That was the last time he was seen alive.

Another land claimant, who denied to be identified for security purposes, said that there were no threats against the deceased, but that the murder was allegedly due to the land restitution process in Uraba.

Padilla began the reclamation process in 2007. His farm had been taken in 1995 by the rural apartment company, “Casa Castaño,” located in the nearby village of Nueva Esperanza.

According to Gerardo Vega of the Foundation for Shaping Futures, an organization that supports land claimants in Uraba, “The government has already spent a year and a half without being able to implement the restitution program to its full capabilities. This gives time for gangs, trustees, and regional elites to organize and oppose the restitution by way of [either] discrediting the victims, campaigning against them, or killing them.”

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