Colombia: student leader murdered

Late on Oct. 4, Julian Andres Hurtado Castillo was shot to death outside his home in the Las Granjas neighborhood of the Colombian city of Cali, in Valle del Cauca department. The killers–apparently paid professionals–were a man and a woman who approached on foot and killed Hurtado with a single shot to the head before fleeing in a public service vehicle. The taxi driver who had just dropped Hurtado off at the residence picked him back up and rushed him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. On Oct. 6, students held a funeral march for Hurtado through the streets of Cali. The local student association blames rightwing paramilitary groups for the murder.

Hurtado worked as a paramedic at the University Hospital and was two weeks away from graduating in pre-hospital care from the University of El Valle. He was active in the University Student Council, and with the Alternative Democratic Pole, a leftist political party. As a representative of the Student Council he had investigated and protested the Sept. 22, 2005 killing of fellow student Jhonny Silva Aranjuren by agents of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) of the National Police in Cali. (Fundacion Comite de Solidaridad con los Presos Politicos Seccional Valle del Cauca, Oct. 5; Adital, Oct. 9)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 22

See our last posts on Colombia and ESMAD terror.