A community leaders who was taking part in local elections in northern Colombia has been assassinated, the local governor confirmed on Monday.
The reported murder of Luis Eduardo Caldera, who was running for municipal council member in San Jacinto del Cauca is the second of a social leader with political aspirations in the southern Bolivar region since May.
The candidate of the center-right U Party was a local farmer and businessman, and the president of the community council of his village.
Caldera was found dead in the Cauca River, reportedly with his hands tied behind back, a few days after he had been reported missing.
Bolivar Governor Dumek Turbay rejected the “cruel assassination” and offered his condolences to the victim’s family.
Caldera’s assassination comes month after the assassination of Belisario Arciniegas, a community leader who was running to become a member of the municipal council of Morales, another town in the troubled southern Bolivar region.
Electoral observers have been warning about the threat of political assassinations after the 2017 demobilization of FARC guerrillas triggered a wave of assassinations that, according to the Ombudsman’s Office, left almost 200 social leaders dead in the last year alone.
The independent Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) said in its latest report on political violence that it had registered 40 acts of violence against candidates, including nine assassinations since October 27 last year.
Including the assassination of Caldera, five mayoral candidates and five council candidates have so far been assassinated in the year ahead of the October 27 elections.
The south of Bolivar where Arciniegas and Caldera were murdered is of major strategic importance to illegal armed groups, specifically the AGC and the ELN.
The region has long been neglected by the state, which facilitates these groups to act as de facto authority, often using extreme violence.