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  • Photos of missing people mark International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances in Medellín, Colombia, August 2016.

    Photos of missing people mark International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances in Medellín, Colombia, August 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 August 2018

According to local residents, paramilitary groups and the criminal organization known as the 'Clan de Golfo' are operating in the area.

Social leader Uriel Rodriguez was murdered in the Colombian town of Cajibio, province of Cauca, on Tuesday night, only a few hours after the ceremony formalizing the new presidency of far-right Ivan Duque.

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According to eye-witnesses and relatives of the victim, hitmen on a motorbike shot him dead as he was in a local shop.

"We do not know who did it, just that they attacked him and left him dead," said the leader of the National Federation of Campesinos Unions Fenusagro, Cristobal Guamanga, adding that residents of the town were preparing a march in order to condemn the assassination.

Rodriguez was a prominent social leader, known for his work in alternative programs of substitution of illicit crops implemented as a result of the peace accord signed between the Colombian government and the former guerrilla group FARC in 2016.

"He managed to reach an agreement on a voluntary basis in his town so campesinos would collaborate with the substitution programs with all the related guarantees, and to help to advance the peace process signed in Havana," said Guamanga.

A report released in July by a group of social organizations identified the 123 Colombian social leaders murdered between January 1 and July 4 this year, with 80 percent of them being members of campesino or Indigenous organizations.

The number of victims differs depending on the source. According to the Ombudsman's Office of Colombia, 311 leaders have been killed since January 2016.

The Institute of Studies for Development and Peace has registered 385 murders since the peace treaty. If the 20 murders since May 2018 are added, the total death toll now stands at 405.


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