Community leader working in land restitution abudcted and murdered

A community leader was abducted and later found dead on Wednesday 15 June in San Vicente del Caguán, department of Caquetá. Benedicto Valencia had been shot in the head and back.

Benedicto was president of the Community Council of nearby Miraflores. As a victim of the armed conflict, he had participated in programmes of land restitution which aim to benefit some of the millions of people forcibly displaced from their homes by violence.

Colleagues of Benedicto said he was elected as council leader for his commitment to the community and because he had worked to improve local projects, school transport for children and protection of land rights.

Caquetá is among various regions of Colombia where the FARC’s withdrawal following the 2016 peace agreement created a power vacuum that armed have subsequently competed to fill. This has often generated tensions with local communities.

Around 500 social leaders have been murdered since the peace deal was signed, including more than 50 so far this year.