Rural leader and two sons murdered in Cauca

Armed men broke into the home of a prominent rural leader and murdered him and his two sons on Saturday 6 October, in the latest bout of violence enacted against civil society activists in Colombia. The attack took place in the town of Bolívar, department of Cauca.

Jaime Rivera, 52 years old, and his sons Jaime Reinel, 20, and Jeison Mauricio, 23, were all members of the National Coordinator for Coca, Marijuana and Poppy Growers (COCCAM) which has seen dozens of members murdered since 2016. The victims were tortured before being killed.

The attack occurred after the victims returned home from a public meeting with local authorities, human rights organisations and the United Nations.

In a statement, COCCAM said ‘these three people had accompanied and led resistance actions against forced eradication actions carried out in this area by the army, but they also stood out as strong supporters of the peace process and promoters of the PNIS [crop substitution programmes] in the municipality of Bolívar, organising assemblies and helping to create and organise committees as a practical demonstration of communities’ commitment to coca crop substitution’.

At least 350 social activists and human rights defenders have been murdered in Colombia since the start of 2016. People working to implement voluntary crop substitution programmes, under the terms of the peace agreement, have been particularly targeted.