Carlota Isabel Salinas Pérez was a recognised social leader within the Magdalena Medio Region of Colombia. She was a long-time member of Organizacion Femenina Popular (OFP) and a member of the Civil Defense Corps of San Pablo municipality, where she had worked for several years in disaster risk management, social action and environmental management.
Carlota dedicated her life to defending women’s rights by promoting forms of collective resistance to patriarchy and capitalism.
Carlota was shot dead on 24 March, 2020, by a group of armed men who burst into her home and forced her out into the street where they shot her dead. The killing took place in the Guarigua neighborhood, in the municipality of San Pablo. Hours before the attack, Carlota had been collecting funds to help the most vulnerable in her neighborhood affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Carlota was one of at least seven social leaders murdered since the introduction of measures to contain COVID-19 in Colombia. And these seven individuals join the estimated 800 human rights defenders who have been killed in Colombia since the peace agreement between the government and the FARC was signed in 2016.
According to Kairos Canada, a partner organisation of OFP, “Carlota was our colleague for more than 10 years; her family has been a part of the territory’s fabric of life and we remember her for her commitment, her dedication, and her expressed solidarity with everyone. Her spirit of helpfulness led her to join the OFP and since then she had promoted groups of women producing new economies, defenders of victims, and defenders of a life free of violence. She was also part of the Civil Defense in San Pablo where she worked on disaster risk management, social action, and environmental management for the well-being and quality of life in the territory. She was a mother of two young adult children and a teenager.“
Days before Carlota’s assassination, the OFP, as part of a regional network known as the Territorial Agendas for Women, Peace and Community, released a statement denouncing the sexual assault of a child and the physical attack of a woman on the first day of a nation-wide drill on social distancing.
Armed actors are taking advantage of institutional and government failures, exacerbated by the global pandemic, to target individuals and groups working for and with the most vulnerable: Indigenous, Afro-Colombian, and LGBTQ+ communities, especially in rural areas where the armed conflict is most pronounced.