The son of a commander from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, has fallen victim to paramilitary violence alongside a friend in a brutal double homicide. The murders, which occurred in Argelia, southern Cauca, raise yet more questions about the implementation of the peace deal signed last year between the FARC and the Colombian government.
The killings occurred in the early hours of Sunday when Yonnier Sujeimer Rosero Muñoz, the son of an assassinated commander of the 60th front of the FARC, and his friend, Pablo Erazo Mamian, were together. The two young men were fired upon 17 times by a gunman equipped with an automatic rifle, according to officials speaking on condition of anonymity.
Seriously injured, the victims were then executed as they lay prone on the ground. The perpetrator then fled to the nearby jungle.
Relatives say that the two young men made their living as farm workers in the town of El Sinai, where they were known by the endearing nicknames “Cotorra” and “Amoniaco.”
Communal leaders say that the violence is the outcome of the arrival of armed groups in the region which followed the decamping of FARC fighters stipulated by last year's peace deal.
While FARC combatants agreed to comprehensively hand over arms to United Nations officials, ending the long conflict between revolutionary insurgents and the state, the vacuum created by the FARC departure allowed for the entrance of armed right-wing militias, mercenaries and paramilitary brigades.
Rather than peace and social justice, communities are instead witnessing right-wing terror committed by non-state actors such as the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish acronym AGC, and other groups. Many of these armed civilian paramilitaries stocked their arsenals thanks to Plan Colombia, a 1999 counterinsurgency initiative that saw the U.S. pour billions of dollars into the country for the purpose of further militarizing the region. The year 2016 witnessed the blossoming of such far-right paramilitary and narco-paramilitary groups, who extended their regional presence and visibility.
Paramilitary groups in Colombia are often linked to powerful oligarchs within the country as well as multinational companies seeking to secure economic interests in resource-rich territories. Prominent politicians like former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe are suspected of having supported paramilitary death squads which helped depopulate areas that were then subject to illegal land-grabs.
“In post-conflict zones it is necessary to look at the rearrangement of legal and illegal forces,” Cauca government secretary Alejandra Miller told Colombian newspaper El Pais. “It was to be expected that violent events of this nature would increase, and Cauca is no stranger to (these events).”
The western agricultural province of Cauca is coveted as an ideal location for growing coca plants and opium poppies that fuel a still-booming drug trade. One of the more violence-plagued provinces in the South American nation, Cauca once boasted a presence of nearly 7,000 FARC combatants, according to reports.