Social leaders are being killed, almost systematically, in front of all our eyes. However, we are focused on and talking about illegal interceptions that, despite being scandalous, are not leaving two dead per week.
Why are they being killed?
The attack on social leaders is triggered by the signing of the Peace Agreement between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the former FARC guerrillas in December, 2016. When the FARC left the territories they controlled, a phenomenon known as “power vacuums” took place, where territories began to be disputed by different armed groups outside the law, responding to different interests, from large landowners and oligarchs, to criminal gangs and drug cartels.
This is a well-known and studied phenomenon; however, it seems that the Colombian Government did not prepare sufficiently to face it and did not make itself present in the most significant power gaps in the country, such as the areas of Norte de Santander or Cauca.
In these regions, communities are interested in implementing what the Agreement said, such as the substitution and / or eradication of illegal crops and land titling. As different armed groups continue to try to maintain control of these lands, groups that are mostly at the service of drug trafficking interests, aim to prevent what communities have already started to do. So, threats and murders begin: any communities’ social leader that defies the interests of illegal armed groups, represents a threat to their business and must be eliminated, says the logic of these perverse interests. That is why the vast majority of homicides occur in municipalities with presence of illegal crops or with conflicts over land ownership.Print