July 23, 2019
Latest News

Colombia land disputes pose grave risks for social leaders

Bogota, Jun 23 (efe-epa).- Land disputes and the power vacuum existing after the demobilization of the FARC guerrillas is putting the public and social leaders at risk in Colombia's southern Cordoba province, where last week a young mother was murdered in front of her nine-year-old son.

The victim, Maria del Pilar Hurtado Montaño, a 34-year-old mother of five, was shot to death by unknown gunmen on a street in the poor municipality of Tierralta, in southern Cordoba, where - just as in the nearby towns of Montelibano and Puerto Libertador, the civilian population is constantly at risk because of the presence of assorted illegal armed groups.

According to an alert issued last November by the Ombudsman's Office, at least 22,132 peasants and indigenous people living in rural areas of those three municipalities are at the mercy of the Gaitanista Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC), the heirs of the paramilitary groups who are in conflict with dissidents from the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Cordoba Gov. Sandra Devia told reporters that Hurtado's killing "could be linked" to a revenge murder ordered by a local leader of the Clan del Golfo, the largest criminal group in Colombia.

The director of the Cordobexia Social Foundation, Andres Chica, told EFE that the murdered woman "did not belong to a peasant social organization but she was a leader within the community on the matter of the invasion of a property owned by the father of (Tierralta) Mayor" Fabio Otero.

A few hours after the killing, the local city hall issued a statement saying that Hurtado was not a social leader and had not been threatened by the Black Eagles, another paramilitary group.

"Paramilitary control of the Black Eagles and the AGC remains alive in Tierralta given the blind eye of local authorities, police and the military," the director of Cordobexia, which had denounced Hurtado's killing, said.

Hurtado had moved to Tierralta from Puerto Tejada in southwestern Cauca province more than 10 years ago seeking a better life, and on Sunday morning her casket was returned to her hometown.

Despite the nationwide indignation over the crime expressed on the social networks, Hurtado's wake was only sparsely attended at the home of her mother, Juana Montaño, where just two relatives were present, EFE learned.

Her funeral is scheduled for Monday.

According to Chica, whether or not Hurtado was a social leader, "she was a part of the process of invading the land" of the mayor's family and her murder could be linked to that.

"This has led to a systematic series of threats and murders. With Maria del Pilar, four people have been murdered by criminals who came to their houses and killed them," he said.

The fight over land, which is at the root of Colombia's armed conflict, is not new in southern Cordoba, where for decades paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug traffickers have been locked in bloody strife that had left a trail of death.

The new situation that has social leaders in the crosshairs originates with "the laying down of arms by the FARC and the creation of a power vacuum that has been exploited by the AGC to exercise hegemonic power over the public, the territory and the illicit economies" in the area, the Ombudsman's Office said.

Amid this growing hostility among illegal armed groups in the region, "the risks for social, ethnic (and) community ... leaders, and human rights defenders is being aggravated."

The bloodshed is being repeated in several parts of Colombia and a study by the NGO Peace and Development Studies Institute (Indepaz) and the Marcha Patriotica political movement found that more than 700 social leaders and 135 former FARC guerrillas have been murdered since 2016, the year when the rebel group signed a comprehensive peace pact with the government putting an end to more than 50 years of armed conflict - a conflict that does not seem to be disappearing.

News history
Power blackout hits most of Venezuela

Caracas, Jul 22 (efe-epa).- A new power blackout left much of Venezuela without electricity on Monday starting at 4:40 pm, and the state-run Corpoelec,...

Trump pursues closer ties with Pakistan

Alfonso Fernandez

Cameras, scientists watch over one of the world's most deadly volcanoes

By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla

Trump: I'd win Afghan war in a week but only by wiping out too many people

Washington, Jul 22 (efe-epa).- US President Donald Trump said Monday he could win the Afghanistan war in a week, but added that he doesn't really want to...

Trump praises Xi for showing restraint with Hong Kong protests

Washington, Jul 22 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump said Monday that his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, had shown restraint in the face of the mass...

Criticism mounts as Portugal struggles to tame wildfire

By Carlos García

Israel demolishes Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem

Wadi Hummus, West Bank, Jul 22 (efe-epa).- The house Palestinian Akran Jawahda was going to live in with his family became a mountain of rubble on Monday as...

More than 300 killed by monsoon rains in India, Nepal and Bangladesh

New Delhi, Jul 22 (efe-epa).- At least 336 people died and more than 12 million have been affected so far this month due to floods and heavy rains that hit...

Volodymyr Zelensky to form first solo government in Ukraine history

Kiev, Jul 22 (efe-epa).- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks set to form a government on his own for the first time in the post-Soviet history of...

Grenfell community kitchen helps survivors of blaze

By Judith Mora

Spain's Sánchez launches bid for progressive government

By Jake Threadgould

Rodrigo Duterte urges death penalty for drug-related offenses

By Sara Gomez Armas

Former Afghan soccer officials indicted in sex abuse scandal

Kabul, Jul 22 (efe-epa).- Five former Afghan soccer officials, accused of sexually abusing some female players, have been indicted by prosecutors, the...

Attack near Mogadishu airport leaves 19 dead, 23 injured

Mogadishu, Jul 22 (efe-epa).- At least 19 people were killed and 23 wounded Monday in suicide car bomb attack that took place near a checkpoint close to...

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano dies at the age of 72

Vienna, Jul 22 (efe-epa).- The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, has died at the age of 72, the organization...

Hong Kong protesters reel from gang attack, say police turned blind eye

By Shirley Lau

Japan's Abe wins upper house election, falls short of majority for reform

Tokyo, Jul 22 (efe-epa).- The Japanese prime minister's political coalition on Monday won the partial legislative elections to the upper house of...

Zelenski's party triumphs in Ukraine elections, exit polls say

Kiev, Jul 21 (efe-epa).- The party headed by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, the Servant of the People party - named after the sitcom in which he...

Trump: Squad congresswomen should apologize to US, Israel

Washington, Jul 21 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Sunday once again unloaded on the four Democratic congresswomen known as "The Squad" after sparking...

Iran warns UK against escalating tensions in tit-for-tat tanker seizures

By Marina Villén

Boris Johnson on the cusp of power

By Viviana García

At least 10 killed in twin attacks in Pakistan

Islamabad, Jul 21 (efe-epa).- At least 10 people were killed Sunday and 29 others injured in twin attacks in northwestern Pakistan.

'Hundreds of thousands' throng Hong Kong in fresh pro-democracy protests

Hong Kong, Jul 21 (efe-epa).- Hundreds of thousands of protesters thronged central Hong Kong once again on Sunday as a fresh bout of pro-democracy...

Political test for Zelensky as Ukraine heads to parliamentary polls

Kiev, Jul 21 (efe-epa).- Ukraine is on Sunday voting in parliamentary elections billed as the first political litmus test for the country's newly-elected...

I agree Welcome to news4europe.eu. We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.