Colombian indigenous and social leader Yaiber Alexander Quitumbo was killed on Tuesday in a rural area of Toribio, in the troubled department of Cauca (southwest), hit by a wave of violence due to disputes between illegal armed groups, official sources reported.
Quitumbo was “killed with a firearm on his plot in Vereda Vichiquí, shelter of Toribio, Cauca, motivations and responsible are unknown,” said senator and indigenous Nasa Feliciano Valencia on Twitter, who called the government to stop “the genocide” .
The homicide of Quitumbo, 30, occurred hours after the murder of Jorge Luis Betancourt, sports coordinator of the Community Action Board (JAC) of San Francisco del Rayo, in the department of Córdoba (north).
With these two cases, the number of social leaders killed so far this year rises to 19, according to non-governmental organizations.
On Tuesday, the United Nations Office for Human Rights reported in Geneva that at least 107 human rights defenders were killed in Colombia during 2019 and, according to their data, another 10 died in the first 13 days of 2020.
The 107 murders occurred in 25 of the country’s 33 departments, although more than half were concentrated in Antioquia, Arauca, Cauca and Caquetá, and the most attacked group was that of defenders of indigenous peoples and the Afro-Colombian community, said the Un.
Last Thursday, the day in which the murder of an indigenous guard was reported in the also troubled department of Chocó (west), President Iván Duque said that in 2019 there was a reduction in the murder of social leaders close to 25%.
Although, he said then, “that figure of course does not fill us with complacency at all. We have to advance every day so that the reduction is to reach zero because we reject that tragedy.”
Since the end of last year, the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) has denounced a resurgence of violence in Cauca due to the presence of illegal armed groups that have been taught against indigenous communities with the objective of controlling the territory for drug trafficking .
In the Cauca, there are FARC dissidents, the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas and criminal gangs that dispute that territory to dedicate it to illicit cultivation of coca and marijuana.