Deadly political violence in Colombia spiked in May after months of decline, according to conflict monitor CERAC.
According to CERAC, politically motivated violence particularly targeted local political activists and leaders of rural community councils. To a lesser extent, the violence targeted teachers, labor unionists and journalists.
The 13 murders registered in May were part of a total of 45 acts of political violence registered in more than half of Colombia’s provinces.
Despite the spike in May, deadly political violence saw a 15% reduction in the first five months of 2019 compared to the same period last year, which was by far the most politically violent year since 2016, the year that FARC guerrillas signed peace with the government of former President Juan Manuel Santos and a peace process began.
Deadly political violence in Colombia
May’s political violence was mainly concentrated in areas where Colombia’s armed conflict has long been most intense, areas where the ELN is active and areas disputed by illegal armed groups over control of illicit revenue.
The profiles of the victims of May’s political violence indicate that those most at risk are social leaders who seek to represent or empower their communities.
Electoral observers warned earlier this year that local elections set for October could spur political violence as local leaders could challenge the power of forces currently in control of local and regional politics.
This is particularly a concern in the western Cauca, Valle del Cauca and Choco provinces where political news website La Silla Vacia registered the assassinations of 12 candidates so far this year.