In Six Days Six Colombian Leaders Assassinated

Published January 9, 2019

In Six Days Six Colombian Leaders Assassinated

Another Colombian activist was gunned down in her home for helping Afro-Colombian victims of the civil war.

Maritza Quiroz Leiva was killed by armed hitmen in her home in San Isidro in Colombia’s Caribbean region.

Quiroz was working on reparations for the torture, kidnapping, displacement, and sexual violence that vulnerable victims experienced during the war, particularly from the military and paramilitary far right organizations.

Quiroz had taken part in a land redistribution ceremony in the Santa Marta region, part of the 2016 peace accords between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).

Colombia has one of Latin America’s biggest land access disparities where “0.1 percent of farms are … over 2,000 hectares in size and control 60 percent of land, while 81 percent of farms cover an area of only two hectares and occupy less than 5 percent of (arable) land” in Colombia.

Quiroz and some 7.7 million people in Colombia have been internally displaced because of the armed conflict that supposedly ended with the peace agreement. However, over 400 land and human rights activists in rural and Caribbean regions have been gunned down by paramilitary groups hired mainly by drug traffickers since the accord went into effect in November 2016.

Quiroz’s life had been threatened several times and her husband had been assassinated under the same circumstances which led her to flee to San Isidro.

She was the mother of four children and the sixth social leader to be killed so far in 2019, after 34-year-old Wilson Perez Ascanio was gunned down in the early morning of Jan. 5. He was a member of a Popular Constituent Assembly (MCP).

So far, 90 Campesino social leaders have been killed since President Ivan Duque took office in August 2018. The right-wing head of state has been criticized by locals for his indifference to the slew of murders.

Revolutionary forces are still trying to navigate a new path given the political circumstances.