Colombia: Nidio Dávila latest victim of paramilitary violence in Nariño

Nidio Dávila was a member of Asociación de Trabajadores Campesinos de Nariño (Astracan) which works to protect the rights of peasant farmers and which, under Article 4 of the peace process, is active in promoting the substitution of coca production with other crops. Nidio was also part of the National Coordination of Cultivators of Coca, Poppy and Marijuana, Coccam, and the political and social movement Marcha Patriotica in Nariño.

Nidio attended the last meeting of the Association on Sunday 6 August. About 80 members of the local peasant community attended the meeting which discussed the substitution programme which Nidio actively supported.  That same day members of paramilitary group Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC) took Nidio from his house. Initially they demanded that he pay a tax but he refused. He was then taken to the neighbouring town of El Cable where he was shot dead in front of the community and his body was dumped in the river Verde. The body was recovered from the river the next day in Vereda San Rafael.

According to witnesses, the killing  was the work of paramilitary forces, members of the AGC  who wanted to intimidate the community. They believe that this killing was a way of sending a message to the community that they should not take part in, or support, the coca substitution programme. The AGC have held two meetings with peasants in the area at which, in addition to issuing threats, they said that they were there to impose a tax  on coca dealers. They also promised to raise the price of coca leaf as a way of attracting new producers into the business.

This is an area which has traditionally had extensive coca production and the community is divided between those who think that there is no alternative to cooperating with the AGC and those who support the substitution programme but do not have confidence in the ability or commitment of the government to following through on the programme by protecting the community.