Colombia: Leader of Madre Tierra movement in Cauca shot dead

On 20 March Javier Oteca, one of the leading members of the Madre Tierra movement for the liberation of land in Corinto, Cauca, was shot dead. The killing was, allegedly, carried out by workers from the sugar plantations on the Miraflores estate, only yards away from a police and army check point.

Since the beginning of the land liberation movement, the members of Madre Tierra have been the constant target of smear campaigns, threats and physical attacks by workers from local large estates. They have also been attacked by army and police members, who have demolished their houses, destroyed their crops and opened fire on them indiscriminately. Now they are killing them.

Javier Oteca has been an active member of the Madre Tierra movement since 2014. The land liberation movement began in Cauca, because of the lack of access to farming land due to the government’s persistent failure to deal with the issue of land reform.

Javier was one of the most prominent leaders of the Madre Tierra movement, providing leadership and defending the rights of his community. Local community leaders are calling on the authorities to carry out an immediate investigation to bring both the perpetrators and the intellectual authors of this crime to justice, and to ensure that it does not remain in impunity like so many other killings.

The community is also calling on international human rights organisations to expose the wave of violence to which community leaders are being subjected. In a statement  condemning the killing, the members of the “Consejo Regional Indígena Cauca” said, “We are angry that one of our community has been the target of this brutal act of violence simply because he stood up for the collective rights of the Nasa people”.