Statements

Another state-sponsored crime against social leaders in Colombia

Peasant leaders Teófilo Acuña and Jorge Alberto Tafur were assassinated during the night of 22 February while in a house in the village of Puerto Oculto, municipality of San Martín, in the department of Cesar. Both social leaders were members of the peasant organisation Coordinador Nacional Agrario (CNA) and of Congreso de los Pueblos.
The prominent leaders were killed by hired assassins in military uniforms who repeatedly shot at them. They had received death threats on numerous occasions and had been subjected to judicial persecution, which is why several social organisations agree that this constitutes a state crime.
The prominent leaders were killed by hired assassins in military uniforms who repeatedly shot at them. They had received death threats on numerous occasions and had been subjected to judicial persecution, which is why several social organisations agree that this constitutes a state crime.

The statement released by the Congreso de los Pueblos stated that "The assassination of our comrades is the direct responsibility of the state". Teófilo Acuña and Jorge Tafur had received several death threats at their homes and had also been victims of judicial harassment by the public prosecutor's office. 

As historic leaders in the Magdalena Medio region, they were members of the Interlocution Commission of Southern Bolivar, Central and Southern Cesar, Southern Magdalena and Santander Processes (CISBCSC). They had been working with the communities in the region for several years on the recovery of land in the hands of cattle ranchers and landowners who had seized it with the support of paramilitary groups.

"These are genocidal practices, practices to exterminate us as a social and political movement. The case of Teo is very telling. They tried to prosecute Teo on two occasions and neither of them succeeded as they had intended. After that, the assassination took place. The state is responsible for having singled them out and for not having provided them with any protection". Said social leader Erika Prieto of the Congreso de los Pueblos, who added that none of the social leaders had personal protection.

In recent days, the CISBCSC denounced that the peasant communities in the region had been threatened by the police, the mayor of San Martin and Wilmer Diaz, a well-known landowner in the region.

Social organisations consider these recent crimes to be part of a genocide that has been taking place in Colombia. Several of the leaders of the Congreso de los Pueblos have been subjected to fabricated judicial procedures for which they have been imprisoned. In other cases, they have been displaced or murdered.

Teófilo Acuña was the victim of a judicial setup in December 2020 for which he was currently awaiting trial. In recent months he suffered persecution and threats. Jorge Tafur was a member of the new national board of the Coordinador Nacional Agrario, to which he was elected in November 2021 during the VII Assembly of the CNA.

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Translator
Tim Swillens
Date
24.02.2022

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