Colombia human rights update July 2020

July was an extremely violent month in Colombia, as community leaders, activists and former guerrillas continue to be targeted. Below we present a summary of some of the documented cases, although there are likely to have been more.

3 July – FARC member Clever Cantincruz Díaz was murdered in Nariño, southern Colombia. The FARC said he was the 215th former guerrilla killed since the signing of the peace agreement.

4 July – School teacher Rubilio Papelito was murdered in the Chocó region of western Colombia. He is at least the fourth teacher killed this year and the 27th since the start of 2018.

7 July – FARC former guerrilla James Montaño was found murdered, five days after he went missing in Putumayo, southern Colombia.

9 July – Indigenous community leader Rodrigo Salazar was murdered in Nariño, southern Colombia.

13 July – Paramilitaries killed two people in separate attacks in the Pavarandó region of Chocó, western Colombia. The first victim, a 25-year-old woman, was reportedly the partner of a member of the AGC, the group believed responsible for the attacks. The second victim was an adult man.

13 July – FARC former guerrilla José Antonio Rivera, 58 years old, was murdered in Pitalito, department of Huila. Armed men shot him in a mechanic workshop where he was working. José was a member of the COOAGROPAZ cooperative for former guerrillas to develop agricultural projects. He is the 218th former guerrilla murdered since the signing of the peace agreement.

14 July – Rural activist María Victoria Valencia, 47, was shot close to her home in Cajibio, department of Cauca. As community members were taking her to a nearby medical centre, the attackers shot María again, killing her.

14 July – Four members of the same family were seriously injured after an armed group attacked their home in the Awá indigenous reserve Cuasbíl la Faldada in Barbacoas, southwest Colombia. The four young victims included a 16-year-old and a pregnant 21-year-old. The other victims were 19 and 24.

15 July – FARC former guerrilla Gilardo Villegas Ceballos, 28, was murdered close to his home in Villavicencio, department of Meta. He had previously reported threats made against him to authorities. He is the 219th FARC member killed since the peace agreement was signed.

15 July – FARC former guerrillas were forcibly displaced from the ETCR transition zone in Ituango, Antioquia, due to violence and threats. The Ituango ETCR has seen more residents murdered than any of the other 23 transitional zones created in the peace agreement to provide training and security for FARC members in the peace process.

16 July – Four people were killed in an attack in Algeciras, department of Huila. Among the victims was the sister-in-law of a FARC former guerrilla who was reportedly shot dead in front of her young children. A 16-year-old was also killed.

18 July – Paramilitaries massacred eight people in Tibú in the Norte de Santander region, northeast Colombia, including a member of the Catatumbo Peasant Farmers Association (ASCAMCAT). Around 400 people were displaced from their homes as a result.

20 July – A 15-year-old indigenous boy, named as José Oliver Maya Goyes, was killed by security forces conducting forced eradication operations in the Villagarzón zone of Putmayo, southern Colombia. A peasant farmer, Silvio López, was also injured.

22 July – The governor of the indigenous community Kwe’sx Kiwe Nasa survived an assassination attempt in Valle del Cauca. Jamundí Crstian Camilo Toconás and two bodyguards were injured when assailants threw a grenade at their vehicle, which was destroyed in the attack. Regional indigenous organisation ORIVAC said several indigenous leaders in Valle del Cauca had recently received threats.

26 July – The body of FARC former guerrilla Héctor Zambrano is found two days after he was abducted in Barbacoas, southern Colombia. The victim’s family was forced to leave their home following the abduction.

26 July – Rural community leader José Arcila was murdered in Corinto, department of Cauca. José coordinated land programmes for peasant farmers. He was shot by an intruder at his home and died shortly afterwards in hospital.

27 July – One of the people displaced by the paramilitary massacre in Catatumbo on 18 July, 23-year-old Jhony Alexander Ortiz, is murdered close to the shelter where he and others were staying.

27-28 July – the Córdoba region in northern Colombia, where paramilitaries have established a major foothold, saw two massacres in a two-day period which left six people dead and forced at least 50 families to abandon their homes. In the early hours of 27 July in San José de Uré, paramilitaries killed three members of the same family, identified as Elizabeth Meléndres, Bitaliano Feria and their son, Édison Meléndres. Édison’s daughter was abducted and left outside the zone, while the assailants, reportedly members of Los Caparros paramilitary group, announced to community members to leave or be killed. The following afternoon, also in San José de Uré, three men were killed. One of the victims was named as 46-year-old John Jairo Velarde Andica. Reports said the killers belonged to the Clan de Golfo paramilitary group.

28 July – FARC former guerrilla Unaldo de Jesús Castillo and bodyguard Yoiman Giménez, whose brother is also a FARC member, are both killed in an attack in Antoquia. Unaldo is the 25th former guerrilla killed in Antioquia and the 222nd overall since the peace agreement was signed.

28 July – Awá indigenous community leader James Canticuz was shot dead by armed men who intercepted him on a road. James had six children, while his wife was pregnant with the seventh.

29 July – Armed assailants entered the Awá indigenous community Ñambi Piedra Verde in Barbacoas in the southern region of Putumayo, where they attacked the home of governor Fabio Alfonso Guanga García, dragging him outside and killing him in front of his family. They subsequently attacked another home with gunfire and grenades, killing 24-year-old Sonia Lorena Bisbicus Ortíz and injuring three other people, including two children. The attack was committed in the same zone where James Canticuz was killed the previous day.