Paramilitaries commit two massacres in two days in southern Córdoba region

The Córdoba region in northern Colombia, where paramilitaries have established a major foothold, saw two massacres in a two-day period which left six people dead and forced at least 50 families to abandon their homes.

In the early hours of 27 July in San José de Uré, paramilitaries killed three members of the same family, identified as Elizabeth Meléndres, Bitaliano Feria and their son, Édison Meléndres. Édison’s daughter was abducted and left outside the zone, while the assailants, reportedly members of Los Caparros paramilitary group, warned community members to leave or be killed.

In the afternoon of 28 July, also in San José de Uré, three men were killed. One of the victims was named as 46-year-old John Jairo Velarde Andica. Reports said the killers belonged to the Clan de Golfo paramilitary group. San José de Uré has seen multiple other killings in recent months.

Following the latest acts of violence, the Peasant Assocation of Southern Córdoba warned that the human rights situation was exacerbating despite the enactment of regional alert measures by the National Ombudsman’s office. A spokesperson for the association said ‘we’ve seen that the Ombudsman has become just another NGO which presents alerts, but nobody responds to what’s happening.’

The spokesperson also asked how it was possible that paramilitaries continue committing massacres and other violent acts in Córdoba despite the presence of 2,500 military personnel. According to the spokesperson, paramilitaries aim to displace resident communities in order to take control of lands which have resource and strategic value.