Rural leader murdered in Antioquia

Unidentified assailants killed rural organiser Alfredo Alonso Ruiz Higuita on Saturday 4 August in the town of Teraza, north Antioquia. Reports said he was murdered after refusing to pay bribes to armed groups active in the region.

‘Alfredo was a man dedicated to his family, to peacebuilding and was part of the programme for the substitution of illicit crops’, said human rights organisation Mapa DH Antioquia.

Alfredo was a coordinator of programmes to substitute illicit crops with traditional ones, a core element of the 2016 peace agreement. This stipulates that coca-farming communities are to receive state support where necessary to voluntarily remove their plantations and replace them with food crops.

Since the 1980s, traditional farming in Colombia has been decimated by conflict and neoliberal trade deals which left farmers unable to compete with multinationals importing food into the country. For many rural communities, coca became the only means of economic survival.

At least 30 people working on crop substitution programmes have been murdered since the peace agreement was signed.