In light of the current situation, this article focuses on cases documented prior to the mass intensification of state repression towards civilians after protests began on 28 April. April was another very alarming month in terms of human rights violations, with FARC former combatants and indigenous communities facing extremely high levels of violence, as social activists continue to be targeted in many parts of the country.
Here is an overview of cases of human rights violations in April 2021.
N.B. This article does not claim to provide a definitive list of all human rights violations committed in Colombia. Various others are likely to have been committed during the period.
1 April – Indigenous organisations issued an alert over the severe risk to the Wayuú indigenous community of Alakat y Arronshy, situated in Uribia in Colombia’s northernmost department of La Guajira. In a statement, the Traditional Indigenous Authorities of Colombia warned of threats and violence against communities. The alert came the day after traditional indigenous leader Aura Esther García Peñalver was murdered in front of her husband in Uribia. Aura had requested security after receiving threats in mid-March but authorities had not responded.
1 April – Awá indigenous community members were attacked by armed men as they attempted to retrieve the body of 37-year-old social activist María Ofelia García Guerrero from the site of her murder in Tumaco, Nariño, on 31 March. Two carloads of armed men attempted to halt the group and opened fire when they refused to comply. Nobody was injured.
2 April – The Awá Indigenous Council Organisation of Ricaurte (CAMAWARI), based in the southern Nariño region, denounced ongoing violence against communities there. It accused armed groups of harassing and threatening residents. Several social activists have been murdered in Ricaurte since the signing of the peace agreement in late 2016.
2 April – A massacre was committed in La Pata, department of Huila. The three victims belonged to the same family: 55-year-old Luis Eliber Quintero Trujillo and his sons, 32-year-old Ricardo and 29-year-old Luis. INDEPAZ said it was the 24th massacre of the year so far.
3 April – Two women aged 81 and 91 were reportedly killed in an armed confrontation between rival groups in El Charco, Nariño. More than 100 people were displaced and 1,000 confined to their homes by the clashes.
4 April – The 25th massacre of the year took place in Circasia, department of Quindío. Four people were killed and three others injured when armed assailants reportedly opened fire indiscriminately at around 1am. Two other killings were also carried out in the same area not long before, totalling six murders in under 48 hours.
4 April – In the Caloto zone of north Cauca, one of Colombia’s most violent regions, armed assailants killed Fernando Lozano of the indigenous community Nasa de Tacueyo. Fernando was a bodyguard in the National Protection Unit and a member of the SINPROSEG trade union for security personnel.
5 April – An investigation by INDEPAZ found that 15,000 people were displaced from their homes in the first three months of the year. 65 separate acts of displacement, a major rise on the 106 separate acts recorded in the whole of 2020. INDEPAZ warned that, at the current rate, 60,000 people could be driven from their homes by the end of the year. ‘It would be a disaster because we’d be returning to figures reached before the peace agreement,’ said the INDEPAZ director.
6 April – Rural leader Albeiro Hoyos was murdered in Anorí, Antioquia. He was a leader and co-founder of the ASCNA North Antioquia Peasants Association, as well as a member of the Patriotic March political organisation.
6 April – Authorities in the Nasa indigenous community Kitek Kiwe Timbío denounced an attack on community leader José Rodvel Collazos, when several shots were fired at him. Indigenous guards subsequently pursued the attackers who managed to escape after firing at them.
6 April – Embera indigenous community leader Rafael Domicó Carupia was murdered in Dabeiba, Antioquia. He was nicknamed ‘Cultura’ for his dedication to promoting Embera forms of music and was a traditional authority figure. The 63-year-old, who had previously received threats, was killed at his home at around 4am. His wife and children were also at home when the attack took place.
8 April – Another massacre was committed, this time in Cauca, the 26th of the year so far. Four people were killed at a farm in Santander de Quilichao.
9 April – Two African-Colombian activists, José Riascos and Margarito Salas, were killed a short time apart in Nuquí, Chocó. José was a community leader in the village of Arusí. Margarito was an environmental defender and researcher who worked as an ecotourism guide. They are the 45th and 46th social activists murdered in 2021.
9 April – The year’s 28th massacre was carried out in Tumaco, Nariño. The victims were three men named as Gabriel Montaño Quinones, Dioio Martín Peralta Vasquez and Eider Elicio Prado Estacio, whose bodies were found after they had gone missing on 6 April.
10 April – The deteriorating humanitarian situation in Buenaventura saw armed men open fire at residents’ houses, reportedly in an ‘indiscriminate’ manner.
13 April – FARC former combatant José Alirio Jojoa, 49 years old, was killed in the Florida zone of Nariño.
14 April – FARC former combatant Fayber Cufiño was murdered in La Macarena, department of Meta, the 265th such killing since the signing of the peace agreement and the 16th of 2021. His father is also a former combatant, Rubiel Moreno Herrera, who is a senior leader at the transitional zone Urias Rondón where Fayber was based.
14 April – Luis Octavio Gutiérrez Montes was murdered in Caucasia, Antioquia, having previously reported corruption at his workplace, the César Uribe Piedrahita hospital. He was also a member of the Antioquia Hospitals Cooperative. He is the second staff member to have been killed recently after reporting corruption at the hospital, where he was a manager. In December, anaesthesiologist Óscar Pastrana was found dead in Bogota after having received threats.
14 April – Community leader Juan Carlos Aguirre was killed in La Macarena, Meta, on the same day as FARC former combatant Fayber Cufiño was also killed in the zone. Juan Carlos was president of the community council in the village of Nuevo Milenio.
16 April – Senator Iván Cepeda said that he and his legal team had received threats and reported them to Colombia’s Supreme Court.
17 April – FARC former combatant Jhon Sebastián Ávila Romero was killed in the village of La Llanerita, close to the departmental capital of Meta, Villavicencio.
18 April – FARC former combatant Yeison Ayala was killed in La Macarena, Meta, the same zone where community leader Juan Carlos Aguirre and former combatant Fayber Cufiño were killed four days earlier. In 2018, the National Ombudsman issued an alert over the security situation in La Macarena due to the presence of different armed groups.
18 April – Awá indigenous leader Dionisio Pai Pascal was killed in clashes between rival armed groups in Tumaco, Nariño. INDEPAZ reports he is the 49th social activist killed in 2021. The 26-year-old had four young children.
18 April – Political activist Francisco Giacometto Gómez was found dead with signs of torture in his home in Santa Marta, northern Colombia. The 64-year-old was a former student leader and a co-founder of the Colombian Communist Party. He had also been a witness in the trial of security personnel over the police killing of student Nicolás Neira in 2005. According to INDEPAZ, he is the 50th social activist murdered in 2021.
20 April – Indigenous leader Sandra Liliana Peña Colcué was killed in Caldono, Cauca, making her the 52nd social activist killed in 2020. She was governor of the community of La Laguna-Siberia. The CRIC indigenous organisation based in Cauca said four armed men forced her out of her home before shooting her multiple times. The CRIC also said she had been preparing for a meeting with government officials when she was killed. Sandra had recently denounced increased production of drugs crops in the area and had received threats.
20 April – FARC former combatant Luis Fernando Córdoba Hurtado was killed on Quibdó, department of Chocó, the 267th such killing since the peace agreement. He was based at the Vidrí transitional zone in Antioquia.
21 April – FARC former combatant Adolfo Rodríguez was abducted from his home and found dead the next day. He was based at the ETCR transitional zone Martín Villa, in Filipinas, in the department of Arauca. A JFC delegation visited the transitional zone in August 2018. INDEPAZ said he is the 268th FARC former combatant killed since entering the peace process.
21 April – Police injured at least one journalist, Luis Carlos Ayala, during protests in Cali.
21 April – A young FARC former combatant, Mayiber Tapias Monsalve, was killed in Antioquia. The zone was unconfirmed, although it was known that he had been travelling towards Medellin, Colombia’s second city.
22 April – The 29th massacre of 2021 was carried out in Cartagena del Chairá, department of Caquetá, with three men killed. They were identified as Arlinton Bravo Henao, Julián Oviedo Tique and FARC former combatant Wilmer Enrique Álvarez Medina. On the same day, two police officers were also killed in Caquetá, in the zone of Puerto Rico.
22 April – Three men were killed in a massacre in Maicao, La Guajira, when armed assailants targeted occupants of a taxi. Driver Alfonso Luque Peláez and his passenger Luis Deluque were named as two of the victims, while Jhoimer González died later in hospital. A woman survived the attack.
23 April – ESMAD riot police attacked students with teargas as they staged a peaceful protest over a lack of resources and access to services at the University del Valle, Valle del Cauca. The last time ESMAD agents forcefully entered the university campus, they killed 21-year-old engineering student Jhonny Silva in 2005.
23 April – Three children were killed in Quibdó, Chocó, in the 30th massacre of 2021. The young victims were aged 17, 12 and 11. The youngest victim was taken to hospital with multiple stab wounds and other severe injuries, which he succumbed to the following day.
25 April – The 31st massacre of the year was carried out in Andes, Antioquia. During the evening, five people were killed at a rural property. Three were named as Arley Darío Morales, Alexander Sucerquia and Gilberto Arnoldo Higuita Sucerquia. It is the second massacre this year in the same municipality.
25 April – FARC former combatant Hernando Guerrero Torres was murdered in Dolores, department of Tolima. The 46-year-old was shot dead by an attacker riding a motorbike. He is the ninth former combatant killed since 13 April, and the 271st overall since the signing of the peace agreement.
26 April – In Sonsón, Antioquia, three people were killed in the 32nd massacre of 2021. The victims were named as Yulieth Natalia Díaz Carmona, 23 years old, and Julián Vanegas Marulanda, 26, along with 13-year-old girl, Michel Daiana Sánchez. Paramilitary groups have recently intensified their activity in the zone, particularly around control of illegal mining operations.