A sixth teacher has been reported murdered in Colombia this year on Tuesday, highlighting continuing challenges for President Juan Manuel Santos‘s promise to make Colombia “the most educated in Latin America.”
Joaquin Gomez Muñoz was murdered in the southern state of Cauca by a masked assassin on Tuesday making him the sixth teacher to be killed this year, according to Fecode, Colombia’s teachers union.
Gomez was 54 years old and was born and raised in Cauca. He worked as a math professor at the school of the Huella indigenous reserve. He was also a member of the Cauca Regional Indigenous Council. Gomez was very active in the community and local education projects, according to a communique by ACIN, the association that represents indigenous communities in northern Cauca.
Gomez reportedly hadn’t received death threats and authority have not released details on any clues to who perpetrated the crime. .
At around 8pm on Tuesday, a masked man on a motorcycle walked into Gomez’s rural house which had its door open, walked into the room he was resting and shot him. His wife tried to stop the assassin, but was with her son and could do nothing against the armed man. After threatening the wife with the gun to stay back, the assassin proceeded to shoot the injured Gomez another two times.
The assassin then left in a motorcycle that was waiting outside. Neighbors had apparently said that earlier in the evening they noticed two strange men in the rural road on a motorcycle following Gomez but took no action because the teacher had never received any threats or had problems with anyone, at least to the knowledge of family and friends.
A close friend and coworker of Gomez said in an interview, “Bullets don’t solve anything, the way to solve a problem is dialogue. A bullet doesn’t finish a problem, it just increases the pain of families and communities. We have always asked that our rights be recognized and sadly bullets are used to silence us.”
This is the second murder of a teacher that the indigenous community in northern Cauca has had to bear in less than six months. Epifanio Latin Ñuscue was brutally tortured and murdered on March 3, 2014. Ñuscue has been previously threatened by FARC militias that operate in the region for “defending the autonomy, the plans, and the indigenous government, a position he defended with values in debates.”
The physical integrity and guarantee of safety for educators is one of the main reasons that Colombian teachers launched a country-wide strike last month.
- CALOTO, CAUCA: ASESINADO JOAQUÍN GÓMEZ MUÑOZ, DOCENTE DE LA VEREDA EL CREDO (ACIN)
- Interview with a representative from Fecode’s human rights office