Tenth electoral candidate murdered ahead of upcoming elections

A council candidate has been found murdered days after he was abducted in the department of Bolivar, heightening fears of an escalation in political violence around the approaching municipal and regional elections to be held in October.

Luis Eduardo Caldera was running as a councillor for the U party in the town of San Jacinto del Cauca. A farmer by trade, his body was found with hands tied in the River Cauca.

According to the independent Electoral Observation Mission, nine candidates in the forthcoming elections had been murdered prior to Luis Eduardo’s death. Five council and five mayoral candidates are among the victims. Altogether, 40 acts of aggression or violence have been committed against candidates.

Southern Bolivar, where the killing took place, has seen high levels of violence since the signing of the 2016 peace agreement due to the high presence of paramilitary and armed groups and the weak state presence. Council candidate Belisario Arciniegas was killed in the region in May.

More than 600 social leaders and activists have been murdered since the FARC and the government agreed to end decades of armed conflict. The most violent regions are those historically affected by conflict and state abandonment.