Excmo. Sr. Presidente Iván Duque Márquez, President of the Republic of Colombia
Sr. Fiscal Francisco Barbosa Delgado, Attorney General of Colombia
October 24, 2020
Dear President Duque and Attorney General Barbosa:
We are outraged to learn that two members of the agricultural workers trade union FENSUAGRO (Federación Nacional Sindical Unitaria Agropecuaria) were assassinated within ten days of each other in Cauca Department: 18-year-old Jayder Quintana (October 3) and Nelson Ramos Barrera (October 13).
Jayder Quintana was murdered on October 3 in the Cajibio zone of Cauca Department. In addition to his membership in FENSUAGRO, Jayder also belonged to the human rights organization PUPSOC (Proceso de Unidad Popular del Suroccidente Colombiano) and the peasant farmers association ANZORC (Asociación Nacional de Zonas de Reserva Campesina). In a communique on the killing, the REDDHFIC network (Red de Derechos Humanos del Suroccidente Colombian) reported that Jayder Quintana had been repairing his motorbike in the center of Cajibio when he was approached by police who asked to see his documentation. Shortly afterwards, as he travelled on his motorbike nearby, two assailants intercepted him and shot him several times.
On October 13, armed men forced Nelson Ramos Barrera from his home in Piamonte before killing him in front of his family members and community members who were trying to prevent the attack. Nelson belonged to the Municipal Peasant Workers Association of Piamonte (ASIMTRACAMPIC), an affiliate of FENSUAGRO. Community members saw a military helicopter over the area while the attackers were present. Local organizations said that security forces had been aware of threats to the community from armed groups since at least March of this year, yet had done nothing to ensure security. Because of its work coordinating crop substitution programs and defending protected biodiversity zones, ASIMTRACAMPIC members have been deemed military targets by armed groups operating in the area.
Colombia remains the world’s most dangerous country for trade unionists. More than 30 FENSUAGRO members have been killed since the historic peace agreement was signed almost in November 2016, as. According to human rights organizations INDEPAZ (Instituto de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Paz) and the Patriotic March movement, more than 1,000 social activists and human rights defenders have been killed overall during this time.
We strongly urge that you
- carry out transparent and thorough investigations into the assassinations listed above, publish the results, and bring the perpetrators to justice
- provide protection measures to members of ASIMTRACAMPIC and FENSUAGRO in Cauca, in strict accordance with the wishes of their local leaders
- demilitarize the rural areas of Cauca because of the military’s complicity in the armed violence, forced displacement, and targeting of rural social leaders
Brian J. Stefan Szittai and Christine Stonebraker-Martínez