The situation in Colombia is getting more alarming with each passing day with the repeated targeting of social leaders. Almost every week, news comes of a social leader being assassinated by an unidentified individual or group. The developments have been a cause of great concern for activists and organizations across the continent. According to a report titled ‘All Names All Faces’, as many as 123 social leaders have been assassinated this year. In the light of these events, on July 15, 2018, the Continental Platform of Social Movements of ALBA, a platform of organizations from Latin America and the Caribbean, released the following statement:
In Colombia, during the past few weeks, the number of social leaders who have been victims of different paramilitary structures that seek to silence and dismantle social processes in different regions of the country has increased. With the systematic assassination of women and men fundamental to the political and territorial demands of their respective communities, the paramilitary power seeks to consolidate its territorial control and criminalize any attempt by the social and political organizations in different regions of the country.
From the Continental Platform of ALBA Movements, we denounce and view with concern the social and political situation of the Colombian social movement as a whole. More than 100 social leaders were assassinated between January and July 2018, with an exponential increase in the number last month, when more than 16 social activists were assassinated throughout the national territory. These include those who had worked as human rights activists, were part of the claims for land restitution, or had been part of the presidential campaign of Colombia Humana in their respective regions. More than 300 leaders have been assassinated since the signing of the peace agreement.
We demand from the Colombian State the cessation of these disturbing events. For all the organizations of Latin America and the Caribbean that form the ALBA Movements, the fundamental guarantee of protection of the lives of our social leaders in Colombia is the real and major combat of paramilitarism that remains in force in the territories and threatens the consolidation of the much desired peace for the Colombian people.
The peace agreement signed in 2006 by the Colombian government is the fundamental tool to protect the social struggle in the country. In this agreement, there are suitable mechanisms – which were discussed at the negotiation table in Havana, Cuba – to guarantee the lives of all those who decide to build peace in their territories. That is why it is essential that the Colombian State commits to implement fully the peace agreement as it was signed, and stops the persecution of social movements and the imprisonment of social leaders.
Being a social leader is not a crime.
The peace of Colombia is the peace of Our America.
Latin America is a territory of peace.