Ana Maria Cortes, a social leader and the coordinator of Gustavo Petro’s presidential campaign in the city of Caceres, Antioquia was murdered Wednesday.
According to the Colombia Humana movement, which sponsored Petro’s candidacy, Cortes had received threats from paramilitary groups. “We are worried because it’s not only her, during the last week several attacks and murders have been reported. It is systematic in many parts of Colombia and in many municipalities,” legislator David Racero said.
Colombia’s ombudsman, Carlos Alfonso Negret, said this week that between Jan. 1, 2016 and June 30 “311 Colombian citizens who were social leaders and human rights advocates” were murdered.
Most murders took place in zones were there are illegal crops or mining, including the departments of Cauca (78), Antioquia (43), Norte de Santander (21), Nariño (18), the Cauca Valley (16) and Choco (16).
Luis Barrios, a communal leader in Palmar de Varela, in the department of the Atlantic, was also murdered Wednesday. Barrios was known for organizing protests against corruption in the municipal hospital and revealing local networks for micro-trafficking.
Human rights advocate David Flores warned that “paramilitary groups are reorganizing in the department.”
“We have said enough already, not one more social leader murdered in Colombia because we need peace and tranquility,” Negret said.
The Colombian government signed a peace treaty with the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016. The implementation of the peace treaty has been heavily criticized and is now facing important setbacks.
FARC has protested the systematic murder or social leaders and demanded government actions to ensure accountability and put an end to the disheartening trend.
Many fear right-wing paramilitaries will carry out a new masacre against left-wing political leaders. Between 1980 and 1990, following failed peace negotiations all members of the Patriotic Union party were murdered.