An indigenous leader has been assassinated in the west of Colombia while a second leader has gone missing, announced Colombia’s Ombudsman on Sunday.
Ernelio Pacheco’s body was found on Saturday in the town of Alto Baudo, after being kidnapped by men carrying firearms while on a boat on the by Nauca River a day before.
Then, on Saturday afternoon, the president of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Alto Baudo, Becheche Miguel Zarco, was kidnapped when he was traveling in a boat near Baudo.
He was approached by armed men who tied his hands and took him to another boat and then onto an unknown destination.
These attacks come just before the initiative “Baudoseando”, organised by different ethnic and territorial social organizations, in order to provide support to indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in Baudo to adddress the issue of armed conflict and human rights in the region.
The region is a strategic area that controls the illegal drug trafficking, planting, processing and marketing of coca. It is an active area of the Resistance Front Cimarron National Liberation Army (ELN) and the AUC or Urabeños.
The Ombudsman reports that the armed conflict in the Baudo region has included enforced disappearances, recruitment of children and adolescents, landmine accidents, displacement and confinement of indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations .
The Ombudsman recalls that in the town of Alto Baudo there were two massive displacement caused by clashes between the self-styled Gaitanistas AUC and ELN . The first was filed on May 11, 2014 when they were displaced 2,631 people (563 families) from indigenous Embera indigenous Dubasa the Reservation, and Ancoso Catrú. The second mass displacement occurred on June 13, 2014 because the fighting spread to the upper basin Baudó, displacing 457 people (85 families), seven communities, including six Indians and a Colombian afro Cugucho river basin.
The population of the municipalities of Upper, Middle and Lower Baudo are in a “high vulnerability condition due to the precarious socio-economic conditions in which they live, which is reflected in the high levels of unmet basic needs in food, health, water drinking and employment, as well as by weak state presence,” the Ombudsman stated.
“The isolation of the region and the difficulties in communication have become an obstacle for the State to provide a timely and comprehensive response to the serious human rights situation in the area.”