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FEB 2022: Rapid Response Network - letters summary

FEB 2022: Rapid Response Network

Rapid Response Network (RRN) letters this month


FEB 1 2022


assassination of 31-yr-old social leader María del Carmen Molina

María del Carmen Molina Imbachi, a 31-year-old community leader, was home on December 31 celebrating New Year’s Eve with her family when tragedy struck. Armed men abruptly entered the home, took María del Carmen outside, and assassinated her in front of her family and neighbors.

Well-respected and loved by her neighbors in the Buenos Aires district of San Pedro municipality (Valle del Cauca Department), María del Carmen Molina Imbachi had served her community as secretary of the local Community Action Board. Her death brings the total of social leaders killed in Colombia during 2021 to 171 (documented) and 1,286 since the signing of the Peace Accords in November 2016.

In addition to an impartial investigation into her assassination, we are urging that the Colombian government reevaluate the mission of the 3rd Division of the Colombian Army, which is stationed in this central region of Valle del Cauca, and its relationship with illegal armed groups operating in the area, including the Columna Móvil Adán Izquierdo de las disidencias de las Farc, la guerrilla del Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) and other local criminal bands.

You can read the full letter at



FEB 2 2022


alarming escalation of violence in Arauca

Despite high numbers of Colombian Armed Forces in Arauca Department, there are several illegal armed groups operating with impunity. In light of escalating violence over the past two weeks, we are urging that the government reevaluate the mission of the Colombian Armed Forces in Arauca and investigate whether there are ties between members of the Colombian Armed Forces and other armed groups operating in Arauca. Such ties have been suggested by residents of high conflict areas of Arauca.

Our letter was prompted by several reports of violence in Arauca, including the assassinations of these social leaders:

January 19: José Avelino Pérez Ortiz, a local leader of the Joel Sierra Human Rights Foundation (JSHRF), was killed in a rural area outside of ​Arauca municipality.

January 25: Álvaro Peña Barragán, president of the Community Action Board of La Union village in Saravena municipality, was killed in a rural zone outside of Tame municipality.

January 26: Rosalba Carmenza Tarazona Ortega, the widow of Álvaro Peña Barragán, was assassinated at her mother-in-law’s house during the wake for her dead husband.

February 1, Hermán Naranjo Quintero, member of the Community Action Board of Corocito (Tame municipality), was kidnapped by armed men. His dead body was discovered the following day.

You can read the full letter at


FEB 13 2022


violence against Nasa Indigenous reserve in Cauca

We wrote to officials in Colombia about the ongoing dangers facing Nasa Indigenous peoples in Cauca Department who are under pressure from illegal armed groups with an agenda of expanding illicit crops, illegal mining, and drug trafficking. In two separate attacks on one Nasa Indigenous Reserve last month, three members of their nonviolent peacekeeping force (Indigenous Guard) were killed: on January 14, Breiner David Cucuñame López, member of the Student Indigenous Guard of Cauca; Indigenous Guard member Guillermo Chicame Ipia was killed during the same attack; and ten days days later, José Albeiro Camayo Güetio, a former coordinator of the Guardia Indígena del Cauca, was killed.  Fourteen-year-old Breiner David Cucuñame López was known as a committed environmental and indigenous rights activist. The Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC) described Breiner as “a carer for Mother Earth, a child protector of life and a Nasa of collective actions and grand dreams.” 

Recent figures released in January 2022 showed that last year, a social leader—whether a human rights defender, community activist or environmentalist—was killed every 60 hours in Colombia.

You can read the full letter at


FEB 24 2022


Indigenous environmental defender killed: Melvin Geovany Mejía Rodríguez

Indigenous Tolupán community leader Melvin Geovany Mejía Rodríguez was gunned down and killed by two unknown people on the highway to Morazón, Yoro Department.  He was traveling with a friend who also died in the attack. Melvin Geovany Mejía Rodríguez was a recognized leader of the Cadelaria tribe. Through his activiteis with MADJ (Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia), Melvin Geovany Mejía Rodríguez worked to protect the ancestral lands of the Tolupán people from domestic and international mining operations. He had been the victim of harassment, intimidation and death threats over the past few years, which led to him having to relocate his family to reside in a different town.

You can read the full letter at .


FEB 25 2022


assassinations of three persons of the LGBTI community

We expressed our deep concern to officials in Honduras about the assassinations of three persons of the LGBTI community early this month. On February 2, men dressed as police entered a shop owned by Jonathan Martínez, shooting and killing him and his partner César Zúñiga. The following day while 18-year-old Maria Fernanda Martínez was standing in the doorway of her home, someone threw a stone at her head and then shot her 10 times.

Because of our concern of the odious assassinations of these LGBTI Hondurans on property that was their own to inhabit, and because of the wave of violence against this community and ongoing national impunity for these hate crimes, we called upon authorities to (1)  thoroughly investigate these killings, implementing the use of forensics compliance of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ ruling on the state’s culpability and failure to investigate crimes against members of the trans community and (2)  publicly condemn the killings of LGBTI Hondurans and show a commitment to a more inclusive Honduras by taking advantage of the offer of technical assistance made by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR/OACNUDH)

You can read the full letter at



FEB 26 2022


assassination of CODECA leader Álvaro Marcos Román

Álvaro Marcos Román was riding home from Guatemala City on his motorcycle overnight to arrive on time the next morning to meet with the City Council in Santa María Xalapán, Jalapa Department. He never made it. The 34-year-old was shot and killed on the highway at 2:00 in the morning. Álvaro Marcos Román served as president of the Community Directive of CODECA (Committee for Campesino Development) in Santa María Xalapán. Through his leadership with CODECA, he fought for land rights, defended labor rights in the agricultural sector, and pushed for the nationalization of privatized goods and services. He became the 23rd member of CODECA killed in Guatemala since 2018.

You can read the full letter at  .



Rapid Response Network

InterReligious Task Force on Central America & Colombia

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