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Human rights defender and peasant leader Adelina Gomez was murdered on Monday in Almaguer municipality, Cauca department, Colombia. She had received death threats over her resistance to mining activities. Adelina was part of the Macizo Colombiano’s Integration Committee (CIMA).
CIMA is part of the National Agrarian Coordinator (CNA), a representative of the Latin American Coordination of Countryside Organizations in Colombia (CLOC-Via Campesina).
La Via Campesina South America reported that the three networks called “fellow social and human rights groups to express their solidarity with the victim and the rejection to the incident, given the difficult situation that human rights activists go through in Cauca department”.
Adelina devoted her life to community and social work. She was part of the Process of Maciceña Women of CIMA and she had lately promoted the Mining and Environmental Forum in Almaguer municipality, held on February 15 of this year. Nearly 1,500 peasant and indigenous people participated. The leader had received death threats to stop participating in activities against mining.
CLOC’s Secretariat expressed its solidarity with Adelina’s famliy and friends and rejected her murder. They also adhered to a call for the judiciary to investigate and try those responsible for the crime, and they highlighted the importance of joining efforts to expose the criminalization of the struggle in the countryside, which many times leads to peasants’ deaths. In a press release issued yesterday CLOC said: “We cannot continue letting these things happen with impunity in our continent”.
Nury Martinez of the National Agrarian Trade Union (FENSUAGRO) and Via Campesina Colombia mentioned the importance of launching a campaign of solidarity with the political prisoners of Colombia and Latin America. FENSUAGRO’s vice-chair, Huber Ballesteros, is in prison with other 262 people since the agrarian strike began on August 19. Martinez said that after the increasing criminalization of the peasant struggle and the systematic human rights violations, thousands of men and women are accused of terrorism and are deprived of their liberty, so we need to increase the coordination to expose and report these incidents, she said.
Meanwhile, the organizations that comprise the Network for Life and Human Rights in Cauca called Juan Manuel Santos’s administration to react in light of the difficult human rights situation of human rights women defenders in the department. The network’s human rights watch has recorded 15 women murders so far in 2013 in Cauca. Nearly half of the cases happened in the Colombian macizo and two of them were peasant leaders. Other 14 human rights activists were killed, especially in Cauca’s rural areas. The observatory also recorded 12 individual threats against men and five against women.
A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn´t start now, and that won´t end here”, said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
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