A body found in northwestern Colombia could be a land rights campaigner who disappeared March 24, an NGO reported Wednesday.
It was found in the mouth of the river Pavarando traveling towards Curvarado, where missing campaigner Manuel Ruiz was from.
Ruiz, a community leader from the Uraba region, and his 15-year-old son Samir were last seen on Saturday being forced to get in to a car with two men thought to be members of the “Black Eagles” illegal armed group.
The elder Ruiz, who advocated the return of land to a displaced black community, contacted the local ombudsman’s office several hours after his alleged capture to announce he was being held with his son at a farm and a $1,400 ransom was being demanded, with a midnight deadline. The criminal group allegedly contacted Ruiz’ family soon after demanding the money.
He was due to meet with government officials Tuesday to go through a list of people or businesses who were illegally occupying land in Curvarado, Choco Department, said workers rights NGO the Intereclesiasti
Ruiz appeared on a list of 37 threatened land rights leaders that was circulated in the area anonymously last year. Colombia’s Constitutional Court has told the government that it must protect black communities during land restitution processes.
Dozens of land rights activists have been killed since President Juan Manuel Santos introduced a law that would allow displaced families to reclaim land that was stolen by illegal armed groups.