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Colombia: second massacre in less than a week confirms spike in violence

The Latin American country has suffered 72 massacres in 2021, with the highest incidence affecting indigenous communities, who have had to cope with the loss of 43 leaders
Soldiers guard an area in Cali, Colombia.

AFP/LUIS ROBAYO  -   Soldiers guard an area in Cali, Colombia

The levels of violence in Colombia have once again suffered a new spike with the murder of four people in the municipality of Tumaco, located in the department of Nariño. In a statement, the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz) confirmed the incident, the second in less than a week in Colombia.

A group of armed men perpetrated the murder in a cockerel breeding place, forcing the people inside to crouch down before taking their lives after several indiscriminate shootings. The victims were identified as Jaison Steven Angulo, José Francisco Mesa, Luis Carlos Sinisterra and Heider Jackson Cortés.

This new case of violence adds to the 72 massacres perpetrated so far this year in Colombia. The figures of 258 deaths are spread throughout the country, with the departments of southern Cauca (13 massacres and 43 dead), central Antioquia (ten massacres and 36 killed), Valle del Cauca (nine massacres and 38 victims) and Nariño (seven massacres and 27 dead) standing out.

La Policía antidisturbios se enfrenta a manifestantes en Colombia
AFP/LUIS ROBAYO - Riot police clash with protesters in Colombia
Indigenous peoples: killings, stigmatisation and threats

Violence has been most incidentally concentrated in indigenous communities. The National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia (ONIC) called on the government to increase protection measures for indigenous peoples, warning that 43 indigenous leaders have been assassinated during 2021.

ONIC has denounced the humanitarian crisis currently being experienced by indigenous communities in Colombia where assassinations and increasing threats are encouraging confinement in their own territories. 

"We are living a genocide, a humanitarian tragedy for the ancestral peoples, especially for the 70 peoples who are on the verge of physical and cultural extinction out of the 115 existing in our country', the organisation's representatives have assured.

El pueblo indígena tikuna colombiano posa con máscaras faciales, en medio de las preocupaciones del coronavirus COVID-19, en Leticia, departamento de Amazonas, Colombia, el 8 de junio de 2020
AFP/TATIANA DE NEVO - Colombian Tikuna indigenous people pose with face masks, amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Leticia, Amazonas department, Colombia, 8 June 2020.

As part of the measures taken, ONIC submitted a report to the Special Justice for Peace (JEP) and the Truth Commission, denouncing the 3,000 murders and violence suffered by indigenous communities since the signing of the peace agreements in 2016. Together with other associations, they have demanded an "immediate" end to the "physical and cultural ethnocide against indigenous peoples and nations".

Latin America Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra