Murder of social leader latest act of violence in Ituango

Another social leader has been murdered in Ituango, north Antioquia, one of the deadliest regions for civil society activists since the signing of the 2016 peace agreement.

Julio Cesar Sucerquia was a member of ASOCABRE boat operators association in the village of Mote. He was killed on 27 June.

Local community and human rights organisations released a statement saying that they were ‘in fear over the ongoing degradation of security in our territories which generates imminent subjection to continuous human rights violations’.

The statement said that since 2017 armed groups have killed at least 20 people in the area, including social leaders and former FARC guerrillas, and forcibly displaced hundreds more from their homes. Overall, there have been at least 42 violent deaths in Ituango in 2018, with June the most violent month since the signing of the peace agreement.

Other victims include the presidents of Community Action Councils for the villages of El Mandarino and Pascuita, a woman killed by a member of the security forces, a member of a small miners association and a peasant farmer killed by the army.

For several months, graffiti alluding to paramilitary groups has been appearing on buildings and in public spaces. The statement said that 17 people working on voluntary crop substitution, as stipulated in the peace agreement, were at high risk of being targeted by paramilitary groups opposed to such programmes being carried out.

‘We are warning of the imminent danger to which the communities of North Antioquia are exposed, with the risks maximised for those people organised in different social movements which exist in the territory, especially communities based where the FARC- EP was historically present and which have been left by this group, generating new territorial disputes between armed groups with interests in these territories’, the statement added.