Five teenagers were killed in yet another horrifying act of violence, as Colombia’s human rights crisis continues to claim young lives across many parts of the country. It is already the sixth massacre of the new year, carrying on from the 90 committed in 2020. At least 14 social activists have also been murdered in the early weeks of 2021.
The attack took place in the early hours of Sunday morning (24 January) in the Buga zone of Valle del Cauca. At around 2am, armed men arrived at a property in the village of Cerro Rico and asked for the owner. They then opened fire on the group of young people gathered there.
The dead victims were identified as Juan Pablo Marín, Nicolás Suárez, Sara Rodríguez, Jacabo Pérez (who were all 18 years old) and 17-year-old Valentina Arias. A 60-year-old man and at least one other teenager were injured. Jacabo Pérez was the son of the owner of the home were the massacre was committed.
According to Colombian media, Nicolás and Jacobo played on the same hockey team and had represented Buga. They were both planning to study abroad, while Valentina had recently graduated from high school and Sara was about to begin her second term of studying veterinary medicine.
The Buga town hall announced three days of mourning for the victims, while authorities offered a reward for information about the killers. Many regions of Colombia are witnessing high levels of violence as paramilitary and other armed groups exert their control through force. Authorities appear unable to address the violence, even in zones where alerts are already in place.