A community leader for Colombia’s displaced population in Choco was assassinated on Wednesday morning.
Jesus Adan Quinto was a leader for the displaced population in the western state of Choco, and was in the town of Turbo when the attack took place.
According to a statement released by the Ombudsman’s Office, Quinto was shot by two unidentified hit men when he left his house on Wednesday morning, without the protection of the security detail that had been assigned to him.
Quinto’s assassination coincided with Colombia’s “National Day of Rememberance and Solidarity with Victims,” a day which commemorates the victims of Colombia’s longstanding armed conflict.
Colombia’s Ombudsman, Jorge Armando Otalora, condemned the attack, “It is unfortunate what happened to the leader of [the community]. He counted on the protective measures of the National Protection Unit (NPU)…but according to preliminary information, the escorts that were assigned to him did not show up and upon leaving his home he was killed.”
According to the ombudsman’s statement, Quinto had petitioned the NPU in December to provide him with more protection, given the risk associated with being a leader for displaced communities.
It is unclear whether that request was fulfilled.
The UNP took to the social media site Twitter to defend itself, saying that it “strongly condemns” Quinto’s murder. In addition the unit stated that all “protective measures” had been implemented, “but that he left [his home] without the protection of his armed escorts.”
The Ombudsman’s office stated that it had asked the authorities to take “urgent measures,” to care and protect for approximately 45 families who were forced to relocate to the area where Quinto’s murder took place, because of guerrilla and paramilitary activity.
The community where Quinto was assassinated has a long history of displacement resulting from the presence of armed groups. In 1997, approximately 15,000 people were forced to leave the area due to an incursion by the ACCU paramilitary organization. The community eventually returned in 2000 after the government intervened.
The area is host to a variety of armed groups, including units of Colombia’s largest guerrilla organization, the FARC, and “Los Urabenos,” a criminal gang comprised of former paramilitary fighters.
The region, which borders Panama, is a prominent corridor for drug trafficking and is therefore of great strategic value to the armed groups operating in the area.
— Unidad de Protección (@UNPColombia) April 9, 2014
- Defensoría rechaza asesinato de líder de desplazados en Chocó (Ombudsman’s statement)
- UNP statement (Twitter)