Colombia’s government said Tuesday that the government is “doing everything” to curb the mass killing of social leaders, but the inspector general said the unfolding tragedy is ignored by Bogota.
Following the killing of at least seven social leaders in the first week of 2019, Interior Minister Nancy Patricia Gutierrez, Defense Minister Guillermo Rivera and Peace Commissioner Miguel Ceballos called a press conference in which they claimed authorities are “taking action” to clarify the homicides and prevent the killing of more leaders.
The State is taking action and doing everything necessary to prevent and clarify who is behind the assassinations of social leaders.
Interior Minister Nancy Patricia Gutierrez
This was contradicted by Inspector General Fernando Carrillo, who told press that the government has failed to follow up on the so-called Pact for Life that was signed in August. This agreement sought to curb the killings that have cost the lives of more than 425 social leaders since the beginning of a peace process in 2016.
It is unheard of and inadmissible that despite the call of leaders in the regions this bloodbath does not stop and that the 11 commitments of the Pact for Life and Protection of Social Leaders and Human Rights Defenders, signed last August 23 in Apartado, Antioquia, remain unfulfilled.
Inspector General Fernando Carrillo
Carrillo’s claim was supported by ombudsman Carlos Alfonso Negret, who said the government and security forces have shone in absence at regional meetings that seek to improve the security situation in territories that have long been neglected by the state and are now vied for by illegal armed groups after the 2017 demobilization of former guerrilla group FARC.
In the 25 humanitarian missions I took part in, I haven’t met anyone but social leaders, Catholic and protestant churches, the people of the Organization of American States and the United Nations.
Ombudsman Carlos Alfonso Negret
The peace commissioner stressed that “it is very important that Colombia understands that the assassinations of social leaders also are also carried out by those groups that have refused to accept peace,” ignoring Interior Minister statistics indicating that illegal armed groups like the ELN and AGC are responsible for only a small portion of the killings.
The majority of the killings involve leaders who oppose illegal mining and support the implementation of the peace process that has long been opposed by President Ivan Duque and his political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe.
The truth is that they are being killed because the social leaders don’t want illicit crops in their territory, they don’t want the excavators like in Choco and the entire Pacific region [where] they keep mining for gold and don’t want to comply with [land] restitution sentences.
Ombudsman Carlos Alfonso Negret
Conflict analyst Ariel Avila told RCN on Tuesday that another group that is being targeted are social leaders who are potential candidates in this year’s local elections.
According to the office of President Ivan Duque, the National Protection Unit received more than 1,263 requests for protection in the first week of 2019 alone.