Ernesto Aguilar Barreras was a 34-year-old peasant leader, farmer and member of the Asociación Campesina del Catatumbo,(Rural Committee of the Catatumbo Campesino Association) – ASCAMCAT, and of the Junta de Acción Comunal (Community Action Board) in the village of Totumito.
He was also a member of the Coordinadora de Cultivadores de Coca, Marihuana y Amapola (Committee of Growers of Coca, Marijuana and Poppy).
On the morning of 18 July, 2020, while he was driving through the village, Ernesto was stopped by a group of heavily armed men who took him to the upper part of the Totumito village and shot him dead.
The killers are believed to be members of “Los Rastrojos”, an armed criminal group active in the area which is close to the border with Venezuela and a known drug route.
Several hours previously the same group of gunmen had come upon a group of 6 farmers working in a field. They killed them all. Following this attack, 120 villagers have left the area because they are afraid that the killers will return.
The Human Rights Ombudsman has sent a team to the area to investigate the incident.