Activist couple abducted and murdered in Putumayo

On Saturday 23 February, rural organisers Milena Garcia and her husband Darwin Reyes were abducted in Puerto Asis, department of Putumayo.
Their abductors took them to the Tres Bocanas zone where they killed them and threw their bodies in the River Putumayo. Milena’s body was found the next day, while Darwin remains missing.

The married couple were community leaders in the rural reserve Perla Amazonica, where they helped coordinate voluntary crop substitution programmes to replace coca plantations with legal crops, one of the core components of the 2016 peace agreement.

The zone where Milena and presumably Darwen were killed is known for paramilitary activity. Putumayo is one of Colombia’s most productive coca-producing regions and a strategic corridor for drugs trafficking.

The attack comes amid a wave of violence against women in the region of Medio and Bajo Putumayo, with at least four women killed in the past week.

Although communities have warned authorities about paramilitary threats, little has been done to tackle the issue, leading to increased security concerns. The Interchurch Commission for Justice and Peace has called on the Colombian government to take urgent measures to protect social activists in Putumayo.