Luis Cuarto Barrios Machado

Luis Cuarto Barrios Machado was murdered on Tuesday, July 3, 2018 at his home, in the Villa Paraíso neighbourhood, while resting with his family. The community leader was shot twice in the head by a man who entered his house. Subsequently, the aggressor fled on a motorcycle that was waiting for him.

Luis Cuarto Barrios Machado was a community leader in the municipality of Palmar de Varela and a native of Pinillos, Bolívar. He was president of the Municipal Association of Community Boards, the citizen control oversight and the Municipal Executive Committee of the Democratic Pole. In addition, he was training at the Higher School of Public Administration (ESAP) to be a candidate for mayor of the municipality.

In the Executive Committee of the Democratic Pole, Barrios, according to Norman Alarcón; representative of the party in the department of Atlántico, was responsible for leading citizen activities promoted by the party and would be responsible for representing it for the elections to the Mayor’s Office of Palmar de Varela.

Since his arrival, 14 years ago to Palmar de Varela, he led different protests denouncing the cases of microtrafficking, deficit in the health service and corruption, such as the case of Electricaribe. In 2015 he was a candidate for the Municipal Council by the Democratic Center and, as documented by the newspaper El Tiempo, the leader had received a beating by strangers in the same year, when he was exercising on the Eastern Way.

After the campaign by Barrios about corruption in the health system, the lack of personnel in the hospital of the municipality and the lack of ambulances and supplies, on June 28, 2018 he communicated to the newspaper La Libertad, and published in social networks , which resulted in him receiving threats. However, according to La Silla Caribe, Barrios had been threatened since April of this year (2018), threats that he denounced before the Ombudsman’s Office.

One of his sons said that Barrios had gone to the Prosecutor’s Office several times in May seeking protection, without success. The literal response he received from the prosecution officials, according to his son, was “that there was no system.”

On Tuesday, July 3, 2018, during the Colombia-England World Cup, a man entered the house of Barrios, in the Villa Paraíso sector, and shot him twice in the head in front of his children and his wife. A second man was waiting nearby on a motorcycle for the offender to make his escape. Given this fact, the Atlantic Government and the Police offered 15 million pesos for any information that could locate those responsible. The Governorate confirmed that four months before his death, Barrios had undertaken a project to denounce the micro-trafficking networks in the municipality.

One of his sons had warned him “to stay still” because of his reckless attitude. He describes his dad as a stubborn person who for the sake of his community was not afraid of anything and never commented in detail to the family on the nature of the threats he received. Speaking to La Silla Caribe, Paola Eljaik, a former Barrios teacher, said he will be remembered as “a brave man devoted to his family, who fought against the entire system and ended up being a victim; a man who although he knew the irregularities behind the political functioning of Palmar de Varela ignored the danger behind the mafias he denounced ”.

A source close to Barrios told La Paz on the Ground that the leader died knowing who was threatening him.


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Date of Killing:03/07/2018

Previous Threats:Yes

Type of Work:Community leader

Organisation:Asociación Municipal de Juntas Comunales

Sector or Type of Rights the HRD Worked On:ESC Rights

Sector Detail:Peasant Communities

More information:Front Line Defenders

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