Colombia human rights update November 2020

The high levels of violence continued towards social activists and former combatants in the FARC during November.

According to the Colombian human rights organisation INDEPAZ, 262 social activists and 59 FARC members were murdered between 1 January and 30 November this year. Indigenous, African-Colombian and peasant farmer communities are disproportionately impacted.

A number of children were killed in actions involving the army, including an 11-year-old shot in apparent gunfire between soldiers and members of an armed group in Cauca. Soldiers also killed two boys at a military checkpoint in Huila.

A series of massacres, including that of ten people in Antioquia, took the number this year to at least 77 such attacks (in which at least three people are killed), more than double the total number in 2019.

Trade unionists were also targeted, with two teachers affiliated to the FECODE union murdered, as well as a member of the FENSUAGRO agricultural trade union.

Regions such as Cauca, Antioquia, Nariño, Chocó and Putumayo saw a particularly high number of human rights violations.

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 November – Members of an armed group killed 31-year-old Rocío Alomía Mantilla and 60-year-old Audberto Riascos before setting fire to their home in the zone of López de Micay. Rocío belonged to the community council of El Playón, while Audberto was a prominent African-Colombian leader. At least one other person was injured in the attack. 

3 November – Human rights defender Jorge Solano Vega was killed in Ocaña, northeast Colombia. He was a representative for the committee of conflict victims. He also worked with communities in the Catatumbo region, which has seen high levels of human rights violations. Armed men shot him dead at his home.  

3 November – Community leader Luis Gonzalo Hincapié was murdered in Peñol, department of Antioquia. He belonged to the Community Council in the village of La Cristalina and had previously stood as an electoral candidate for the Indigenous Authorities Movement of Colombia (AICO).   

3 November – The 71st massacre of the year was committed in the Bajo Cauca region of Antioquia. Five people were reportedly killed in an attack on a pool hall in the village of Bijagual. The establishment’s owner was among the victims. The region has a high paramilitary presence. In late August, the national Ombudsman issued an alert over armed groups committing human rights violations in Bajo Cauca. 

4 November – FARC former guerrilla Jainer Córdoba Paz, 38 years old, and his partner Katherin Álvarez were shot dead in the city of Buga, department of Valle del Cauca. Jainer is the 237th FARC member killed since the peace agreement was signed four years ago. 

4 November – Death threats signed by a group purporting to be the Águilas Negras (Black Eagles) were issued against social leaders in the northern region of Magdalena Medio. 18 social leaders were told they had 24 hours to leave the region or be ‘declared military objectives.’ 

6 November – Indigenous FARC former guerrilla Hernándo Ramos was killed in Caldono, Cauca. A popular musician, he was based at the ETCR transition zone ‘Carlos Perdomo’ for FARC members in the peace process. He helped coordinate productive projects in avocado cultivation and pig breeding. He is the 238th former guerrilla killed since the peace agreement was signed in November 2016. 

7 November – At least 85 African-Colombian families were displaced from the villages of Peñita and Pángala in Chocó, western Colombia, due to violent confrontations between the army and armed groups, which have a strong presence in the region. Indigenous communities have also been affected by military operations launched on 4 November. Residents said that 11 people arrested on allegations of drugs trafficking and links to armed groups were victims of false accusations.  

7 November – ESMAD security forces, which have repeatedly committed human rights violations, forcefully evicted Wayuú indigenous communities from a settlement in Riohacha, northern Colombia. Communities were there seeking to reduce dangerous levels of exposure to Covid-19. At least one child was hurt. 

8 November – An indigenous child, identified as 11-year-old José David Pascue Tenorio, was killed in a shootout involving an armed group in Paéz, Cauca. A woman was also injured after a bullet passed through the wall of her home and hit her in the arm. 

8 November – Paramilitaries entered the village of José María in Puerto Guzmán, Putumayo, and reportedly killed Ever Edwuardo Velásquez Cuellar, a young member of the community council for the village of José María. 

8 November – A group of around 50 armed paramilitaries, dressed in camouflage uniforms, entered the Uradá indigenous reserve in Jiguamiandó, Chocó. They demanded a census of the local population and attempted to locate indigenous guard Joaquín Cuñapa Carupia and other leaders. 

November – Three people were killed in a massacre in Támesis, Antioquia. It is the 72nd massacre of 2020 and the 20th in Antioquia, the region most impacted by these types of attacks. 

10 November – Three people were killed in a massacre in Argelia, Cauca, including a child. The victims were named as Luis Evelio Quiroz Patiño, Reinel Ijají and 15-year-old Yeison Fabián Jiménez Botino. It is the 73rd massacre of 2020.  

10 November – Community leader Juan Pablo Mina and his family were forced to leave their home in the city of Buenaventura, western Colombia, after receiving paramilitary death threats.  

10 November – Death threats were sent to Bogota-based organisers in human rights organisation the National Movement for Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE), with signatures purporting to be paramilitaries belonging to the Black Eagles. Those named were Luz Marina Hache, Luis Alfonso Castillo and Carmen Mayusa. Other MOVICE leaders have recently received threats in the regions of Cauca, Tolima, Sucre and Putumayo, while another representative, Hernándo Benítez, survived an attack in Sucre last month. 

11 November – Paramilitaries intimidated a humanitarian delegation formed of representatives of the JEP peace tribunal, the United Nations Verification Mission, the Comisión Justicia y Paz and international observers as it approached an Embera indigenous zone, where it had scheduled meetings with communities impacted by paramilitaries, in Chocó. The paramilitaries pursued and overtook the delegation on motorbikes as it travelled to and from the zone. 

11 November – Community leader Eibar Angulo Segura was murdered in Tumaco, department of Nariño. 

12 November – Indigenous leader Genaro Isabere Forastero was abducted from the Embera community of Ankozó Catrú Dubasa in Chocó, western Colombia. He was found dead nearby, with signs of torture, two days later.  

13 November – A married couple and their daughter were murdered in Tierralta, department of Córdoba. Onilda María Díaz Urango and James Correa were killed in the zone of Lorenzo, before their daughter Luisa Fernanda Correa Díaz was also killed nearby. Onilda belonged to the PNIS crop substitution programmes created in the 2016 peace agreement, designed to support families’ voluntary transition from coca-farming to legal crops. The couple were also members of the Patriotic March political organisation and the Alto Sinú Peasant Association, as well as being active in their community council.  

14 November – FARC former guerrilla Heiner Cuesta Mena was murdered in Chocó. He was found with gunshot wounds in the village of Llano de Neguá, near the regional capital of Quibdó. Heiner was based at the ETCR transitional zone Vidrí (Héroes de Murri) in Antioquia. He is the 239th FARC member killed since the peace agreement was signed four years ago. 

14 November – Two prominent members of the African-Colombian community of Recogedero, Rigoberto Camilo Caicedo and Helena Johana Yale Muñoz, were murdered in the El Tambo zone of Cauca. 

15 November – Councillor and social activist Neriet Penna was murdered, along with her husband, in Puerto Guzmán in the southern Putumayo region. Their two children were injured. INDEPAZ said she was the 254th social activist killed in 2020.  

15 November – FARC former guerrilla Jorge Riaños was killed in Florencia, Caquetá, the 240th such murder since the peace agreement was signed. 

15 November – The army killed two teenage boys, 14-year-old Joselino Iruá and 15-year-old Emerson Alejandro Dussán, at a checkpoint in San Agustín, department of Huila. 

15 November – Death threats purporting to be from the Black Eagles were addressed to the senators Iván Cepeda and Aida Avella, as well as to human rights and social organisations.  

19 November – FARC former guerrilla Bryan Steven Montés Álvarez was murdered in Puerto Caicedo, Putumayo. He is the 242nd FARC member killed since the signing of the peace agreement four years ago.  

19 November – Pamphlets purporting to be from the Black Eagles and containing threats against journalists, political leaders and congress members were distributed in Bogota. The media outlets named were Prensa Rural and Contagio Radio, both of which have covered recent Justice for Colombia delegations.  

20 November – Social activist Yhoni Walter Castro was shot dead in his home in the village of San Francisco de Linares, department of Nariño. 40-year-old Jonny was a member of the local Victims’ Committee, which represents those impacted by conflict, particularly those with disabilities. According to INDEPAZ, he is the 255th social activist murdered in 2020.  

21 November – Armed men entered a bar in Tumaco, Nariño, and killed 17-year-old Breiner Meza Meza and 21-year-old Breiner Meza Arellana.  

21 November – The first of two massacres on the same day was carried out in Argelia, Cauca, with five people killed. At around 10pm, armed men travelling in a a truck and on a motorbike opened fire at a group of people outside a disco. At least ten people were injured. Social leader Libio Chilito was identified among the dead, with other victims named as Faber Joaquín Hoyos, Arlex Daniel Salamanca, Dannover Santiago López and Harold Ruiz Salazar. 

22 November – Just hours after the Argelia massacre, ten people were killed in an early-morning attack in a coffee plantation in Betania, Antioquia. The victims were harvesting coffee when they were attacked, with at least three more injured. It was the 76th massacre of 2020, with 303 people killed. Antioquia has seen more cases (18) than anywhere else in the country. 

22 November – The body of teacher trade unionist Byron Revelo Insuasty was found in a morgue in Tumaco. On 13 November, he had been abducted while en route to union elections. Byron was a member of the SIMANA teacher union in Nariño and of the Colombia Humana political movement.  

22 November – Teacher trade unionist Douglas Cortés Mosquera, who belonged to the Risaralda Teachers Union (SER), was killed in La Virginia, department of Risaralda. He was also known locally as an artist. He is the 258th social activist murdered in 2020. 

23 November – Community leader Edgar Hernández was murdered in Puerto Caicedo, Putumayo, the same area where Bryan Steven Montés Álvarez was killed four days earlier. Edgar was president of the community council in the village of La Independencia and a member of the FENSUAGRO trade union. 

23 November – Three people were killed in Colombia’s 77th massacre of the year. The attack took place on a football pitch in Soledad, in the northern department of Atlántico. The victims were named as Cindy Paola Monsalvo De Alba, Gustavo Alexis Zúñiga Julio and John Jairo Cantillo Robles. 

24 November – Jorge Armando Tous was murdered in the Toluviejo zone of Sucre, northern Colombia. At around 8pm Jorge was walking home when some friends, when they were intercepted by armed men on motorbikes. The attackers threatened Jorge’s friends and ordered them to leave before shooting him dead. There is a high paramilitary presence in the zone. 

24 November – On the fourth anniversary of the signing of the peace agreement, 25-year-old FARC former combatant Paula Osorio García was killed in the Atrato region of Chocó. Her body was found close to a fish farming project established by FARC members and local communities. She had been living at the Heroes de Murrí reincorporation space and is the 243rd FARC member killed since signing the agreement.  

28 November – Indigenous community leaders Luis Siniguí and Argemiro Bailarín received death threats for the second time in under six weeks, with the messages sent via text. 

29 November – FARC former guerrilla Nacer David López Gómez was murdered in Maicao, northern Colombia. He had been based at the Pondores reincorporation zone and is the 244th FARC member since the peace agreement was signed.  

30 November – Indigenous community activist Romelio Ramos Cuetia was murdered in the Suárez zone of Cauca. He is believed to have been killed after leaving a birthday party. 

30 November – Environmental defender Harlin David Rivas Ospina was murdered in Quibdo, Chocó. Harlin was a member of the National Youth Environmental Network and an engineering student at Technological University of Chocó.