Deadly attacks against displaced war victims trying to have their land returned cost yet another life on Sunday in an ongoing wave of violence against community leaders in Colombia.
The latest killing took place in a rural part of Turbo, a hotbed of paramilitary activity where forced displacement in the 1990s and early 2000s was particularly prevalent.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, Porfirio Jaramillo was kidnapped by unidentified armed men while with his family.
He was later found dead on the road between Nuevo Oriente and Chicorogo.
According to Carlos Paez, a fellow leader of land claimant NGO “Land and Peace” (Tierra y Paz), the pending assassination had been known by authorities for months.
Profirio had received death threats for four and a half months. Some armed men told him to abandon his farm. He filed charges with the police and prosecution and gave the full name of who had sent to threaten him.
Land right activist Carlos Paez
The governmental Land Restitution Unit (URT) rejected the assassination in a press release and had requested protection from the governmental protection unit in August, apparently without result.
The URT also called on police and prosecution to investigate the homicide that is the latest of more than a dozen on displaced farmers reclaiming their land so far this year.
“Families are going through immense pain because of the negligence of the responsible authorities. We ask them to prevent [violence] before things happen. The Prosecutor General’s Office has all the information of the people who are carrying out the threats in this area,” a desperate Paez told El Tiempo.
According to numerous human rights organizations dedicated to the war-torn Uraba region, authorities have been warned about the life-threatening situation of displaced farmers demanding the return of their land and have constantly been informed on aggression, intimidation and threats against the local farmers.
In total, some 15% of Colombia’s entire national territory was stolen from small farmers in an apparent attempts to use the country’s armed conflict for the benefit of large land owners and multinationals.
Because of the prosecution’s chronic dysfunctionality, there is no saying how many land claimants have been assassinated over the past few years.