A leading LGBT and peace activist and her nephew were murdered on Tuesday in the Bajo Cauca region of Antioquia, which continues to be heavily affected by violence against social leaders and human rights defenders. Liliana Holguín and her unnamed relative were shot dead while travelling by motorbike in the area.
Liliana belonged to the LGBTI Committee of Caucasia, which campaigned in defence of equal rights and to tackle discrimination. She also coordinated opposition to forced displacement, which has affected many communities in Bajo Cauca, and support for victims. According to local human rights groups, Liliana’s murder was the eighth of an LGBT activist in Bajo Cauca since the start of 2018.
Despite the signing of the 2016 peace agreement, the region remains heavily affected by political violence and state abandonment. Paramilitaries and other armed groups are highly active in regional drugs trafficking, with the authorities attempting to link murders to involvement in illicit activity.
Wilson Castañeda of human rights group Caribe Afirmativo said that Liliana was a visible member of the LGBT activist community who organised equality workshops. He said he did not know of any previous threats made against her.
However, LGBT activists had been repeatedly named in paramilitary threats on pamphlets distributed in the zone. Activists have warned of people being coerced into handling drugs or risk being killed.
Close to 500 social activists, including LGBT campaigners, trade unionists, environmental defenders and community leaders, have been murdered since 2016. In the majority of cases, nobody has been arrested or charged.