Europa Press and Afp

La Jornada newspaper
Monday, November 22, 2021, p. 32

Bogota Two social leaders were assassinated this week, denounced the Institute of Studies for Development and Peace (Indepaz), which counts 88 massacres with 313 victims since the beginning of the year and until last day 15.

On November 17, in the rural area of ​​the municipality of Caldono, northern Cauca, Gloria Patricia Caviche Alos, 18, whose father was a rebel from the dismantled Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, was murdered by a group of armed men.

The crime took place in the village of La Venta, Siberia district, jurisdiction of the municipality of Caldono, Cauca, in a mobility corridor for illegal armed groups and transit of coca leaf and marijuana shipments.

In the town of Carrizal, in the municipality of Remedios, Antioquia, the social leader Helmer Antonio Monsalve was killed on November 18, according to Indepaz.

Five years after the historic peace agreement between the FARC and the government of Juan Manuel Santos was signed, Colombia has seen an increase in the murders of social leaders and former combatants of the most powerful guerrilla in America during 2021.

Juan Carlos Garzón, a researcher at the Ideas for Peace Foundation, indicated that before 2012, when the dialogues began, the annual homicide rate was 12,000 per 100,000 inhabitants.

During the negotiation process, from 2013 to 2016, it dropped to 9,000 homicides, he pointed out.

Hernando Gómez Buendía, director of the Razón Pública portal, highlighted that each year some 3,000 people died from the conflict and in 2017 there were 78.

But once again, homicides are on the rise, Garzón points out: The bad news is that between January and September 2021 we are again at a level of 10,500 homicides.

This year, 152 social leaders and 43 former FARC combatants have been killed or disappeared, according to Indepaz data.

Although the bulk of the former FARC guerrillas demobilized with the agreements signed on November 24, 2016, dissidents remained active and the National Liberation Army guerrillas returned to the offensive after a failed peace attempt.

Drug trafficking also has its own armies. All the illegal forces number about 10,000 combatants, according to Indepaz.

The power and regulation vacuum was filled by other actors, Garzón explains, adding another factor: the inability of the State to offer protection guarantees to the population.

Since the signing of the agreement, which ended half a century of struggle for power, 293 former combatants have been assassinated by their former comrades or enemies of the war, while others have returned to arms. And at the center of all violence: drug trafficking.

The pact, which promoted the voluntary substitution of illegal crops, did not affect the business: Colombia continues to produce and export cocaine in record numbers.

We are facing a fragile process because drug trafficking had grown exponentially and the peace signatories returned to criminal life, Colombian President Iván Duque told the Afp news agency.

The demobilized members of the FARC accuse Duque of torpedoing the agreement and promoting peace only in front of the microphones.