Number of people threatened, injured, and killed by ethnic and political violence in Colombia, 2010-2016. Graphic: Resource Center for Conflict Analysis (CERAC)

By Dan Kovalik
28 March 2016

(Libya 360) – While Colombia, the U.S.’s staunchest ally in the Hemisphere, is held out as some beacon of democracy in Latin America, the facts on the ground tell a very different story. Of course, you will rarely hear those facts, or about Colombia at all, given the general laziness and slavishness of our main stream media, so here they are.

Last year, according to the Resource Center for Conflict Analysis (CERAC), there was a huge spike in the murder of social leaders, political party activists, and union members compared to the year before. Thus, such murders jumped 35% from 78 in 2014 to 105 in 2015. Specifically, the rate of union murders more than doubled from 2 to 7; the rate of political leaders and activists killed increased 66% from 15 to 25; and the murder of public officials, teachers and journalists jumped 31% from 29 to 38. In terms of the murder of political activists/leaders, moreover, most were from opposition, left-wing parties. Indeed, 6 leftist political leaders have been killed already in 2016.

And, of particular note, CERAC explains that the aforementioned murders are not the product of the armed conflict in Colombia between the Colombian government and the FARC guerillas. Indeed, CERAC explains that the cease fire which the FARC has been engaged in as part of the peace process has not contributed to a decline in political violence. This is because most of this political violence is being carried out by right-wing paramilitary groups aligned with the Colombian state, though both the U.S. and Colombian governments go to great pains to deny the continued existence of such paramilitaries.

As CERAC further explains, those who have been disproportionately victimized by political violence (which includes both murders and threats) have from the LGBTI community and from the “traditionally victimized” groups of Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples.

CERAC relates that “in 2015 deaths of indigenous leaders far exceeded those of other vulnerable populations who defend human rights in the country: they correspond to 20% of the total.” This, despite the fact that indigenous peoples, numbering around 1.4 million, only make up 3.3% of the total Colombian population.

Truthfully, these figures do not even begin to capture the devastation which the indigenous peoples of Colombia are suffering. As Arelis Maria Urinan Guariyu, the Councilor for Women of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), and a member of the Wayuu tribe in Colombia’s La Guajira Peninsula, explained to a group of us last week in Washington, D.C., 34 of the 102 indigenous tribes in Colombia are on the verge of extinction. According to the United Nations, this in fact may be an underestimate, with possibly over 40 tribes at risk of total annihilation. In total, over 62% of all indigenous peoples in Colombia are at risk of extinction. [more]

Colombia: Ethnocide and Political Violence on the Rise

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