Francia Marquez, an Afro-Colombian environmental social leader, survived an attack with grenades and firearms on May 4 while she was attending a meeting held in Quilichao, a town at the South of Colombia, with the Association of Northern Cauca Community Councils (ACONC), the Association of Afro-Descendant Women (ASOM) and the Black Communities Process (PCN).
“While we, the black people of North Cauca, were at a meeting aimed at preparing the dialogues with the Colombian government… we were attacked with weapons and grenades by armed men,” France said and reported that two members of the National Protection Unit - a governmental entity in charge of protecting people at risk were injured.
Marquez is an African-Colombian woman who has been leading the defense of Colombian rural communities from the environmental effects caused by gold mining companies and supporting them in the Cauca Valley, a territory in which paramilitary groups are well known for massacring the civilian population.
In 2014, she and 80 other women carried out a 350-kilometers march towards Bogota, the country’s capital, to denounce aggression against the poor.
In Santander and in most Colombian departments, attacks against social leaders have increased despite the peace agreement signed to allow the incorporation into civilian life of former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) fighters. At least 155 social leaders were killed in 2017, and almost 500 leaders killed since the the peace agreement was signed.