José Gustavo Arcila Rivera was a community leader, a member of the Guardia Campesina (Peasant Guard) and several other community organisations including:
the Comité de Tierras de la Asociación de Trabajadores Campesinos Zona de Reserva Campesina del municipio de Corinto (Land Committee of the Association of Peasant Workers in the Community of Corinto) – ASTRAZONAC, which is an affiliate of the Federación Sindical Unitaria Agropecuaria (National Federation of the Trade Unions of Small Farmers) –FENSUAGRO,
the Asociación Nacional de Zonas de Reserva Campesina ((National Association of Peasant Communities) –ANZORC,
the Proceso de Unidad Popular del Suroccidente Colombiano (Committee of Popular Unity of Southwest Colombia) –PUPSOC,
and the Coordinación Social y Política Marcha Patriótica, Cauca (Social and Political Committee of Marcha Patriotica in Cauca).
On the morning of Sunday, 26 July, 2020, José Gustavo was at home on his farm in the community of La Cominera when a gunman arrived and shot him several times. His family and neighbours came to his assistance immediately and he was taken to hospital in Cali, but died on the way from his injuries.
He had previously received threats because of his human rights work. Three other community leaders were murdered in the area over that same weekend. Leaders of peasant communities are one of the most vulnerable groups in Colombia, 342 of whom had been killed in the 4 years up to July 2020.
During his funeral other members of the community paid tribute to his work: “ His legacy remains, it will be a seed that germinates and survives. His legacy will be honoured by us facing fear with our work and our determination to work for common dreams, for the rights of peasant communities and for peace with social justice. Our fight continues and hope will feed on our dignity. We will always remember you, José”.