Indigenous Leader and FARC Member Killed in Colombia

Members of Colombia's main indigenous organization, ONIC, during their assembly in Bogota in October 2016/Photo: ONIC Colombia
Indigenous Leader and FARC Member Killed in Colombia

A recent report by the NGO Corporacion Solidaridad Juridica found that 11 former FARC members released from prison have been murdered this year.

Colombia’s former guerrilla group FARC, now a legitimate political party, has denounced the murder of one of its members in Ituango, in the province of Antioquia.

The victim, Jhon Jairo Ortiz Betancur, was one of the FARC members benefiting from a political pardon. He had recently been released from prison under the peace accords signed with the government in Havana, Cuba, in August 2016.

“This is the fourth activist killed in this town, and the second this semester,” said the FARC in a statement. “We urge all the local and national authorities to investigate the facts and bring protection to all our members and communities.

“We ask the international community to be attentive to how systematic these facts have repeated themselves.”

Early this month, a report issued by the NGO Corporacion Solidaridad Juridica found that 11 former FARC members just released from prison had been murdered.

Last Sunday, an indigenous leader was also assassinated in Tumaco, in the province of Narino, bringing the total number of indigenous activists killed in the country since the beginning of the year to 44, according to Colombia’s main indigenous organization, ONIC.

Oscar Pai Pascal was a member of the indigenous guard Awa de Hojal la Turbia, reported the ONIC, placing the blame firmly on the “national government, who failed out of omission, who failed for not addressing properly the many calls we made so homicides could be prevented.”

The vacuum created by the departure of armed leftist groups, such as the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (People’s Army, or FARC-EP), has cleared the path for the entrance of armed right-wing paramilitaries and criminal gangs eager to seize areas where lucrative illegal economies have thrived. 

Such groups are often deployed to advance the interest of powerful landlords and cartels who covet the resource-rich territories.


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