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Three Massacres in Less Than 24 Hours in Colombia

It is with profound concern that we inform you that over the past three days there have been four massacres in Colombia. On Friday August 21st, five people were killed in Arauca. That evening, six residents of El Tambo, Cauca were also murdered. That same day, in Tumaco, a port city located in southwestern Colombia, the bodies of 6 youths were identified. Following these three massacres in 24 hours, on Sunday evening another attack occurred in Venetia, Antioquia resulting in at least three killed and one injured.

At the same time, 73 communities of the Naya River Collective Territory have called on the Colombian government for immediate protective measures as they fear for a pending massacre. So far, there have been 44 massacres in Colombia this year.

These attacks follow former President Uribe’s detainment and likely mark a wave of right-wing retribution. Uribe’s staunch counterinsurgency policies against the leftist guerilla, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, were strongly supported by US funding and resulted in hundreds of human rights abuses and a multitude of scandals during his presidency.

He has remained a powerful figure in Colombian politics since his presidential term ended in 2010. Alvaro Uribe's political successor, current right-wing President Ivan Duque, has largely continued these violent policies, systematically undermining the 2016 peace accords with full backing by the United States.

Sign reads “Duque, don’t kill me. I want to graduate”. However, this young man was murdered in the massacre in Tumaco.

These recent massacres mark a disturbing trend of significantly increasing violence in Colombia. Just one week prior on August 11th, five youths were massacred in Cali. Shortly thereafter on August 15th, eight youths were killed. These massacres were met with a series of protests across the country calling for justice for the victims and echoing the call for Black Lives to Matter as seen in the United States.

It is of special note and concern that the majority of these massacres involved youth. Young people in Colombia are often victims of forced recruitment by illegal armed groups and face violent retribution if they refuse. Activists continue to call for the Colombian government to initiate peace talks between other armed groups and enforce the 2016 peace accords between the FARC.

In what is supposed to be a “post-conflict” time in Colombia, we see violence escalating to levels unseen in years.

To date, no actors have yet been detained or found accountable.


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