On October 31, five people were killed in two municipalities in the Cauca department in Colombia. Four of them were shot dead by unknown armed men in rural areas of Santa Elena in the Corinto municipality and the dead body of another man was found in the nearby municipality, Caloto. This is the second massacre in less than three days in the Cauca department.
According to preliminary investigations, the dead body found in Caloto was inside a black bag and had signs of torture. The reports also indicated that the murder in Caloto happened just an hour before the four people were killed in Santa Elena. The government authorities are investigating whether the two incidents are related.
On October 29, four members of the Indigenous Guardia and another Indigenous authority were killed in an armed attack in the Tacueyó town of the Toribío municipality. Cristina Bautista, leader of the Nasa Indigenous community was one of the victims of the ambush.
The first massacre was condemned by a number of Indigenous and social organizations as well as by human rights activists and political leaders. The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) has held president Iván Duque’s administration responsible for the massacre and genocide of Indigenous people. They also demanded the immediate resignation of the ministers of defense and interior, who they claimed had done nothing to prevent the violence, despite the constant denouncements from Indigenous organizations regarding threats to their physical safety.
The recent massacre has exacerbated the fear in the population and has provoked greater indignation against Duque’s right-wing government. Several political actors are criticizing the government and are demanding an end to violence in the country.
Roy Barreras, president of the Peace Commission Senate, wrote on his Twitter account, “Cauca got out of control.” In an interview with Hora 20, Barreras said that “drug trafficking is a curse that infiltrates everything. Cauca got out of hands of the Defense Minister.”
Gustavo Petro, the head of Colombia Humana, a left-wing political platform, tweeted: “Cauca bleeds. Duque did not understand that in order to successfully confront the Mafia, an alliance must be made with the peasant and indigenous movements based on their demands.”
The Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) political party also expressed its concerns. “What is happening in this country is absurd. Two days after the massacre of Tacueyó and having given all the warnings to the government for what is happening, another massacre happens. Today in Corinto, Cauca, four people were killed. Stop the killings,” tweeted FARC.
Cauca is one of the departments that is most affected by armed group violence in Colombia. The Indigenous people who defend their ancestral territories are the main targets of the drug trafficking, illegal mining and other paramilitary groups operating in the country.
The ONIC has called for a ‘National Mobilization for Life’ on November 8, and has urged the Colombian society to stand up in defense of life, peace, rights and land.