Two indigenous community leaders murdered in separate attacks

Indigenous leader Miguel Ángel Alpala died on Wednesday, two weeks after he was attacked in Cumbal in the southern region of Nariño. On 16 April, armed men entered his home and shot him multiple times. He had been in hospital since then but succumbed to his injuries.

Miguel Ángel Alpala was a member of the Indigenous Authorities of Colombia (AICO) organisation and a well-known human rights activist in the region. He had recently helped coordinate indigenous and rural protests, known as ‘la Minga’, which affected large parts of the country.

Also on Wednesday, an indigenous Embera woman, Remedia Aizama, was murdered in the Campo Alegre community in Chocó, western Colombia. A 12-year-old girl was injured in the attack, which saw at least 40 people forcibly displaced from the community.

The regions where the killings occurred are among the most unstable in Colombia. Paramilitaries and armed groups compete with one another for control of drugs trafficking and other illegal economies. This has brought them into direct conflict with local communities which oppose their presence. The crisis is compounded by the state’s weak presence and the lack of security in many parts of the country.

According to the National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia (ONIC), more than 60 indigenous leaders and activists have been killed since President Iván Duque entered office in August last year.