Election observers on Tuesday warned that stigmatization is fueling deadly violence in Colombia after a mayoral candidate died in a savage massacre.
Days before her death, Garcia had urged her competitors in the race for the mayorship of the Suarez municipality to stop stigmatizing her or lying about her policy proposals.
I ask followers and other candidates not to continue inciting these armed groups with comments about my candidacy, claims that are false; like me going to bring paramilitaries, multinationals, that I am going to take people’s land. This could even have fatal consequences for me.
Human rights organizations warned last year already that similar stigmatization of community leaders and human rights defenders contributed to a wave of assassinations that followed a 2016 peace deal with former FARC guerrillas.
The October 27 local elections are the first time the FARC is taking part and have created immense tensions between all kinds of political, social, generational and ethnic divides.
According to the MOE, the violence is affecting all sides of the political spectrum and has cost the lives of five candidates in the past month.
“It is a worrying panorama, we are presented with a lot of violence and the responsibility for that violence is not clear,” Camilo Vargas of the Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) told radio station La FM.
Ahead of the elections, the MOE had already warned about the precarious security situation as the state has failed to occupy territories that used to belong to the FARC and have since become either lawless or disputed by other illegal armed groups.