Political organiser murdered in southern Colombia

On Wednesday 14 August, unidentified attackers murdered political campaigner Wilson Charley Tenorio Quiñones in Magüí Payán in the department of Nariño, southern Colombia.

Wilson worked as a legal secretary for the Magüí Payán authorities and was a former councillor in the zone. He had coordinated various social and community projects to improve conditions in a region affected by high levels of poverty and underdevelopment. His activism made him a well-known member of the community.

From his position in the Magüí Payán legal office, Wilson directed community programmes focused on grassroots organising and implementing peace in local communities. Through these programmes, he advanced proposals to improve education, vocational training, public health and cultural and tourism benefits for communities long denied access to basic services.

He was also press chief for mayoral candidate Alejandro Quiñones, who hopes to be elected in October’s regional and local elections. ‘Regarding the murder of one of the most trusted people in my campaign, I state that all the leaders of my movement are at high risk. My life is in danger and so far the State has not assigned me protection. My condolences to the Tenorio family’, said Quiñones. Human rights groups fear that violence will escalate as the forthcoming elections grow closer, with candidates and activists at risk of violence.

Several armed groups, including paramilitaries, are active in Nariño, which produces high amounts of coca and is strategically located close to the Ecuadorian border and on the Pacific coast. Historically one of Colombia’s most unstable regions, it has seen high levels of violence since the peace agreement was signed in November 2016.