Historically, the department of Meta is a zone of armed conflict in the Amazon with frequent issues related to deforestation and land grabbing.
Javier Francisco Parra was an environmentalist who for the previous three years had been working as the regional coordinator for the Corporación para el Desarrollo Sostenible del Área de Manejo especial para la Macarena (Committee for the Sustainable Development of the Area of Special Protection in La Macarena), CORMACARENA, in Meta. He had been working for more than twenty years in this area to protect fragile ecosystems such as Caño Cristales.
On 3 December, 2020, Javier was standing outside the CORMACARENA office when two men road up on a motorcycle and shot him several times.
He was taken to the municipal hospital but died from his injuries while he was being prepared to be airlifted to the medical centre in Villavicencio.
This murder occurred only two months after three others working with Cormacarena were attacked on the road. The three individuals were moving from the La Julia sector to the El Divisó village, in the rural area of the Uribe municipality in Meta, and were approached by armed individuals who they stole their belongings and burned the truck they were traveling in. They survived with their lives after the police and army intervened.
According to a report by Mongabay “Parra’s death is another name on the growing list of social, environmental and Indigenous leaders murdered in Colombia. According to the latest figures from the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz ), between January 1 and December 6, 2020, a jaw-dropping 284 such leaders had been assassinated in Colombia.
In addition, the most rercent annual report of Global Witness noted that, in 2019, Colombia not only ranked first in the number of murders of environmental leaders in the region – with 64 homicides – but was also the most dangerous country in the world for environmental defenders.”