On Wednesday 31 October, Antonio María Vargas became the 24th social leader murdered in Colombia in 2018.
Although the figures around deaths of social leaders – the term typically used by Colombian media to incorporate trade unionists, land activists, human rights defenders, community organisers and political party members – fluctuate according to different sources, the tally of 24 corresponds with the INDEPAZ organisation and diverse media reports.
Antonio was a coordinator for crop substitution programmes in San José de Uré, department of Córdoba. His murder was the third already this year to occur in south Córdoba around crop substitution.
Less than two weeks earlier, on 18 January, Plinio Pulgarín was abducted nearby and murdered. Residents have warned of recent death threats made against specific individuals, while over 400 people have been forcibly displaced from their homes.
Under the terms of the 2016 peace agreement, illicit coca plantations are to be replaced by traditional crops in programmes coordinated by local communities. Those organising these programmes have been routinely targeted by paramilitaries since the agreement was signed.
Source: Prensa Rural