Two Indigenous Governors Murdered in Latest Colombia Violence

News from Colombia | on: Friday, 22 May 2009

The Governors of two Colombian indigenous reserves, one of whom was a nationally recognised leader whom the Colombian authorities had been asked to protect, have been assassinated within days of each other in separate incidents in southern and central Colombia. Luis Manuel Martinez Velasquez, a member of the 'Zenu' indigenous group and Governor of the Tigre Dos reserve in Antioquia department was murdered shortly after armed men burst into his house on the evening of May 13th and took him away. His body was found the next morning on a road leading from the reserve to the town of Caucasia.

The second attack saw Robert de Jesus Guacheta, of the Honduras reserve in Cauca department, killed some hours after leaving his home on the morning of May 18th. It is not clear who murdered Mr Guacheta, a member of the Nasa group, after he had left his house in the community of Tierradentro though he had been repeatedly threatened by a regional paramilitary group.

A former President of the Association of Traditional Indigenous Authorities of Western Cauca, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and human rights organisations had repeatedly asked the Colombian authorities to provide Mr Guacheta with protection though they had declined to do so.

The two murders came just days after yet another attack against members of the Awa indigenous group in the region of Narino on Colombia's border with Ecuador. The May 10th attack there, again perpetrated by unknown attackers, saw Ademelio Servio Bisbicus Garcia and Marco Antonio Taicuz executed in their home in the indigenous community of Piedra Verde in Barbacoas municipality. Mr Bisbicus Garcia's wife, Berta Taicuz, was also badly wounded in the attack.

See also

April 2009, Further Attacks on Indigenous Colombians as Indigenous Leader Gunned Down

April 2009, Paramilitaries Murder Indigenous Man

March 2009, Former Indigenous Governor Assassinated in Colombia

Feb 2009, Three Indigenous People Murdered in Colombia (which includes links to previous stories on indigenous issues)

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