Argemiro López Pertuz, a rural organiser who was working to implement the 2016 peace agreement was murdered on Sunday 17 March 2019, the latest victim in the wave of violence targeting social leaders and human rights defenders in the country.
Argemiro coordinated crop substitution programmes to replace coca plantations with traditional crops, a core component of the peace process. He was killed in Tumaco, Nariño, a region which has remained severely affected by violence and instability despite the signing of the agreement in November 2016.
Armed men broke into Argemiro’s home in the village of La Guayacana, where they attacked him and his family. Both his partner and his mother were injured in the attack. Argemiro had previously received threats in connection with his work on crop substitution.
Tumaco produces more coca than any other municipality in Colombia. Several social leaders have been murdered in the zone, which has a high paramilitary presence due to its illegal activity and strategic location for trafficking contraband.
According to the COCCAM association for coca farmers, more than 30 people working on crop substitution programmes have been killed since November 2016. Colombia has seen a high increase in coca production during that time.
In response to Argemiro’s murder, Emilio Archila, the Presidential Advisor for Stabilization and Consolidation condemned the crime and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to voluntary crop substitution. He assured that families enrolled in the National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of Crops for Illicit Use will receive support.
The Colombian police have arrested a member of “Los Contadores“, an organized criminal group, in connection with the murder.
Source: Justice for Colombia