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Sun Jun 23, 2019, 01:28 AM

Colombian Cartel Kills Woman Community Leader, Son Witnesses

Over 650 rural social leaders in Colombia have been killed since the peace accords went into effect in 2016 for protecting their land against illegal takeovers.

Colombian land rights leader, Maria del Pilar Hurtado, was murdered outside her home in the town of Tierralta Friday morning, a crime that occurred just days after her name appeared in a pamphlet circulated by the far-right paramilitary Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces (AGC), a part of the country's most powerful drug cartel, Clan Golfo.

Hurtado's murder was witnessed by her 9-year-old son.

Andres Chica, director of Cordobexia Foundation, told local media that the AGC pamphlet accused Hurtado and six other people of "invading" lands belonging to the father of the Tierralta mayor, Fabio Otero. Among the others on the list were two community leaders previously assassinated, and the president of Cordobexia Foundation, Albeiro Begambre, who left the area for fear of being killed.

"What happens is that we have a territorial control dispute. The criminal structures operating in the area want to take over the lands for illegal mining or drug trafficking," Chica explained. The human rights organization leader added: "Since 2016, (Cordobexia) has reported the murder of 31 social leaders in the (Cordoba) Department, 12 of whom were from Tierralta. The insecurity we live with is worrisome."

According to United Nations, some 4,780 hectares of coca leaf are currently planted in the southern part of the department where 243 families have been forced to leave their homes due to the violence spread by right-wing paramilitary groups kicking people off their fertile lands.


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