In 2016, after 50 years of civil war, the Colombian Government signed a peace agreement with the guerrilla group FARC. At the time it seemed like an opportunity to strengthen peacebuilding efforts throughout the country.
But now human rights violations are on the rise.
Since the signing of the peace agreement until May 2022, 319 signatories have been killed. In the first half of the year there have been 39 massacres in different regions of Colombia and the murder of 79 social leaders.
The power vacuum left by FARC in several regions is today fought over by various armed actors in territorial disputes. The Colombian government tries to recover territorial control. However, the Colombian government refuses to acknowledge the conflict as such and keeps referring to this new cycle of violence as acts of terrorism and international drug cartels. Their reactions have led to a militarization of territories and several breaches of the peace agreement.
This has generated many and gruesome human rights violations, weakening of the social fabric and democracy. Forced displacement of mostly rural farmers, indigenous people, and afro Colombians as well as massacres, and targeted assassinations of social leaders, human rights defenders, LGTBQ-leaders, and ex-combatants happen almost daily.
On top of everything, 2022 is an election year, something that tends to lead to new cycles of violence.
Environmental and human rights defenders
Maydany Salcedo, a Colombian social leader, has dedicated herself to protecting human rights in Piamonte, southern Cauca. She is currently the president of the Municipal Association of Workers of Piamonte Cauca (ASIMTRACAMPIC), a local organization that seeks to improve the conditions of 904 peasant families.
For several years Maydany and her family have suffered threats and attacks by illegal armed groups and have had to leave their territory due to death threats.
However, despite all the painful circumstances, Maydany and ASIMTRACAMPIC say that even if they must hide, they will not leave their work.
Jani Silva is a woman social leader from the amazon region in Colombia. She is the legal representative of the Integral Sustainable Development Association of the Amazonian Pearl (ADISPA). An organization that currently represents the Amazonian Pearl Peasant Reserve Zone and which has promoted the implementation process of the Peace Agreement in the territory.
Due to sensitive advocacy exercises, Jani has been displaced from the territory; she is still being followed and threatened. And unfortunately, the hazardous conditions have reached a critical point for other ADISPA members.