The violence and bloodshed in Colombia continue unabated. The massacres, assassination of social leaders, assassination of former combatants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerilla group continue at an alarming rate in the country.
Yesterday, on March 9, the Institute of Development and Peace Studies (INDEPAZ) confirmed the murder of José Éver Álvarez Salcedo in the town of Venadillo, located between the municipalities of Ocaña, Norte de Santander department, and Río de Oro, Cesar department. José Éver was shot dead by an unidentified armed man in his own home on March 3.
José Éver’s assassination happened 8 days after his father Luis Hermides Álvarez González was assassinated. On February 25, Luis Hermides was shot in the head by unidentified men while he was passing through a road in the town.
Both José Éver and Luis Hermides were well-known social and political leaders and were widely recognized for their work in the region. Both father and son contested in the last municipal elections for the center-left Colombian Liberal Party in the Río de Oro municipality.
Camilo González Posso, the director of INDEPAZ, with regard to these assassinations said that the situation “is really very critical because we are beginning to see political violence” in the country. “The use of weapons has been enthroned in our society. There is a culture of violence, hitmen and mafias,” denounced González Posso.
With José Éver and Luis Hermides’ assassinations, the figure of social leaders and human rights defenders killed so far in 2021 reached 31.
Additionally, according to the INDEPAZ, over 60 people were killed in 16 massacres registered in the country this year. The latest was perpetrated in the Abrego municipality, Norte de Santander department, on March 7, in which 5 people lost their lives and 5 were injured.
The organization also reported that 10 ex-combatants of the FARC, who were in the reincorporation process, had been assassinated to date this year.
The persistent paramilitary violence in different parts of the country has led to the forced displacement of hundreds of people in recent months.
On March 6, the ombudsman’s office reported that more than 300 Indigenous people from the Embera Katío community were displaced by the violence in the Bagadó municipality, in the Chocó department. Earlier, on March 4, at least 168 Indigenous people from the Turriquitadó community were forced to abandon their homes in the Murindó municipality, Antioquia department.
Various social, Indigenous, Afro-descendant and human rights activists and organizations as well as opposition political leaders and parties have condemned the forced displacement of people due to the conflicts between paramilitary groups to define control over land for drug trafficking and illegal gold mining activities. They have urged the national government to take immediate measures to safeguard the population living in the areas affected by paramilitarism and guarantee their right to live in peace in their homes.
These organizations and individuals have constantly denounced the far-right government of president Ivan Duque for its lack of will to implement measures to stop these acts of violence and dismantle the illegal armed groups operating in the country. The Common Party (Partido Comunes), formerly known as the Common Alternative Revolutionary Forces (FARC) party, has also repeatedly condemned Duque’s administration for its lack of will to comply with the 2016 peace agreements and its indifference in response to their extermination.
The recent denouncements have also criticized the prosecutor’s office for protecting the interests of the ruling party rather than assuming its responsibility and promoting the dismantling of criminal groups.
Colombia has seen a significant increase in political violence and systematic extermination since Duque took office in 2018. According to the INDEPAZ, 1,147 social leaders have been assassinated since the signing of peace agreements and 748 of these assassinations occurred under the rule of Duque’s rule (August 7, 2018-March 10, 2021). Likewise, 259 former FARC combatants have been killed since the signing of the peace agreements.