Colombia: indigenous journalist slain by army

Abelardo Liz

An indigenous journalist was among two killed when army troops were called in to evict a land occupation in Colombia’s southern Cauca region Aug. 13. The lands of three haciendas had been under occupation for months by Nasa indigenous campesinos at El Guanábano, in Corinto municipality, as part of a land reclamation campaign dubbed “Liberación de la Madre Tierra.” The elite National Police riot squad ESMAD was first mobilized to clear them, burning their huts and destroying crops. When the occupiers fought back, the army was sent in as back-up, and troops opened fire. Abelardo Liz, who was covering the confrontation for Nación Nasa community radio station, was shot in the abdomen, and died while being rushed to the hospital in Corinto. (El Tiempo, Las2Orillas, Las2Orillas, Bogotá, La Opinión, Cúcuta, Aug. 13)

Colombia was the deadliest country on Earth for land rights and environmental activists in 2019, according to a new report released by advocacy group Global Witness July 29.  The report, entitled “Defending Tomorrow,” found 64 land and environmental defenders were killed in Colombia last year—up from 25 in 2018, and the highest level Global Witness has ever recorded in the country. Globally, 212 land and environmental defenders were registered killed in 2019, the highest number in a single year. Global Witness warned the real figure is likely much higher, as many cases are not recorded. (Reuters, July 30)

The wave of assassinations of social leaders continues to escalate across Colombia. In previous years, Global Witness has named the Philippines, Honduras and Brazil as the deadliest country on Earth for land rights and environmental defenders.

Photo via RSF