The Colombian Catholic Church distanced itself from Archbishop Dario Monsalve, who accused Duque of a “genocidal revenge to completely dismember society, social organizations and democracy in the fields and in the territories.”
Monsalve made the comments over the president’s failure to act against the mass killing of human rights defenders and community leaders’ lives since the 2016 peace deal.
According to conflict monitoring NGO Indepaz, at least 159 social leaders and 25 demobilized members of the FARC have been assassinated.
Killing of social leaders in Colombia
The rejection of the Church and the government sparked a major support campaign for Monsalve, particularly from the organizations who have suffered the violence that has attracted the attention of the United Nations’ genocide prevention chief.
Indigenous and Afrocolombian organizations from the southwest of the country said Monsalve’s harsh criticism of the president and his far-right Democratic Center party “reflect how the communities in the Pacific and other regions think and feel.”
Statement by ethnic minorities
Duque’s government and his party have been faithful to their electoral campaign of “shattering the peace agreement” by attacking the different mechanisms agreed upon (the war crimes tribunal, the Truth Commission, the unit for the search of disappeared persons) and drastically weakening its implementation in the areas of integral rural reform, substitution of illicit crops, protection of communities, dismantling of paramilitary structures and integral reincorporation of former combatants of the extinct FARC-EP.
The communities in many territories of the Pacific and Southwest that suffer from the worsening of the armed conflict are subjected to genocide, as the painful figures show: since the signing of the peace agreement, more than 460 social leaders and human rights defenders have been murdered, as well as 216 ex-combatants and signatories of the peace agreement. The physical extermination of the indigenous peoples, reflected in the assassination of 167 indigenous leaders during the government of President Duque, is notorious.
The planting of “Peace with Legality” is a deceptive discourse, since it governs illegality in peripheral territories even more strongly. The refusal to accept the existence of an armed conflict that must be solved through negotiation is clear. Meanwhile, there is a kind of revenge against our territories that we continue to bet on negotiated peace.”
Duque has always claimed to be living up to his obligations, despite constant efforts to alter or obstruct the peace process.
The president’s political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, has continued to refer to human rights defenders as terrorists while Uribe and many members of his party have been linked to organized crime and crimes against humanity that could be exposed during the peace process.