Hugo de Jesús Giraldo Lòpez was the second human rights defender killed in Santiago de Quiliache, Cauca, in just three days.
At 06.30pm on 22 April, 2020, Hugo was at home in the community of San Pedro when two men on a motor bike drove up to his house. One of them went into the house and shot Hugo 6 times killing him instantly.
“Hugo de Jesús Giraldo López came to the Naya region in the 1980s from Valle del Cauca, settled there as a salesman and later became a teacher. During those years he helped organise several Community Action Boards -JAC-, among them those of the Río Mina and Loma Linda villages.
For years he was at the forefront of initiatives such as the formalisation of educational centers, the construction of schools, the preparation of censuses, among other community initiatives, as well as community education projects. In the 2000s, he was one of the victims of the arrival of the Calima Bloc of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia in the region.
Together with the community, he lived through the El Naya massacre in 2001, the forced displacement and the violence of dispossession. This did not prevent him from continuing to work in the JACs, in community associations and fighting for the rights of victims and the community.
He served as representative of the victims of the massacre in Justice and Peace processes of Law 975 of 2005, having the opportunity to attend the testimonies of candidates such as José Everth Veloza García, known by the alias of HH in the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia . It was in these proceedings that the responsibility of the Calima Block for human rights abuses was established.
Hugo was also the founder and president of the association of Juntas de Acción Comunal del Alto Naya, which was created several years after the massacre, and through this organisation he promoted processes for the return of the victims without getting any institutional support.
In July 2018, he was the victim of a new forced displacement by armed actors who today maintain their presence in the Alto Naya region.
Hugo Giraldo, like Mario Chilhueso, had publicly denounced the occurrence of several homicides of peasants and received threats as a result of these complaints.
Recently he was part of the board of directors of the Association of Agricultural Workers and Small Producers -ASTCAP-, a local organisation that the Colombian Commission of Jurists has accompanied since January 2019, and that groups together several peasant families from this region of Cauca.”
The ongoing armed struggle for control of the territory between dissident elements of the FARC means that the local communities are caught between the paramilitary violence, the violent response of the state and the pandemic. The government has so far failed to take any meaningful action.