On the 4th of May, 2019, gunshots were fired and grenades were hurled into the midst of a community gathering in which some of the most renowned Afro-Descendant leaders from Northern Cauca, Colombia were meeting.
Francia Marquez, winner of the 2018 Goldman Environmental award for her work against criminal miners invading ancestral lands; Carlos Rosero, founding member of the national organization Process of Black Communties (Proceso de Comunidades Negras- PCN); Victor Hugo Moreno, head of the Association of Community Councils of Northern Cauca (ACONC); and Clemencia Carabalí, leader with the Association of Afro-Descendant Women of Northern Cauca (ASOM), were gathering with some 25 community members when the attack occurred at 5:30 pm in the community of Lomitas, Muncipality of Santander de Quilichao.
Four men were involved in the attack who fled the scene managing to get away. Two bodyguards were injured, which has produced psychological impacts for all those at the meeting, including two children.
The participants were preparing for an upcoming meeting with national government representatives to finalise the agreements made as an outcome of the peaceful protests that took place across Cauca, known as the Minga del sur occidente colombiano por la defensa de la vida, la paz y la democracia (Minga of the Colombian southwest in defense of life, peace and democracy). This protest blocked the pan-American highway for 27 days in March and April this year, and targeted the lack of implementation of peace accords, transitional justice and scores of agreements between social organizations and the government.
Forest Peoples Programme strongly condemns these attacks, and we support our partners’ calls for:
- State representatives to urgently address this situation, including the Minister of the interior, Nancy Patricia Gutierrez; the Minister of Defense, Lorenzo Guillermo Botero Nieto; the Director of the National Protection Unit, Diego Fernando Mora; the Attorney General, Nestor Humberto Martinez; the National Ombudsperson, Carlos Alberto Negret; and members of the Committee for Risk Evaluation and Recommendations of Measures (CERREM).
- The Government of Colombia to establish guarantees for the fundamental rights to life, participation and social protest.
- The Attorney General’s Office to undertake rigorous investigation of this attack, with a view to capturing and bringing to justice those involved.
- Multilateral human rights organizations, the Ombudsperson’s office, and the Attorney general-Ethnic rights office to monitor and accompany the process.