Two FARC political campaigners murdered in Antioquia

In the latest act of violence committed against demobilised FARC members, two former guerrillas, now political activists, were murdered at around 11pm on Tuesday 16 January in the Urabá region of Antioquia, one of Colombia’s most conflict-affected zones. Vilmar Asprilla and Ansel de Jesús Montoya Ibarra were killed after they had participated in a community meeting on the FARC’s participation in forthcoming elections.

The event was being held to promote the candidacy of Wilmar de Jesus Cartagena Durango, also known as Darlinson, who is standing as the FARC (now the People’s Alternative Revolutionary Force political party) candidate for the Chamber of Representatives in Antioquia. According to reports, he had to attend a medical appointment and was not present when the attack occurred. It is highly possible he was the principal target of the perpetrators.

In a statement, the FARC called on the Colombian government to ‘make a statement on the systematic assassination not just of our comrades, but also of [social] leaders and human rights defenders’.

The United Nations also condemned the double murder and encouraged the government to ‘take the necessary measures to guarantee the free exercise of political rights during the election process’. At least 34 demobilised FARC members have been murdered since the peace process was signed in November 2016, while at least 13 relatives of FARC members have also been killed.

The wave of violence has raised major concerns that a similar programme of elimination is under way as to the repression of the Patriotic Union (UP) political party in the 1980s and 1990s. The UP emerged from the 1984 peace process and was formed of FARC members and other sectors of the political left. Around 5,000 UP members and supporters were murdered by paramilitaries and state security forces after it made political advances via the ballot box.