Mario Chilhueso dedicated most of his life to defending the rights of peasant communities in the Alto Naya region of Colombia.
At 05.00AM on the morning of Sunday, 19 April, 2020, Mario left his home to take his mules out to work in the fields when several gunmen opened fire, killing him instantly.
In 2001, Mario and his family had been previously been displaced from their land following the El Naya massacre in which forty-six members of indigenous and afrodescendant communities were killed. Since then he had been a dedicated land rights activist defending the rights of his community.
At the time of his death Mario was president of Asociación de Trabajadores y Pequeños Productores Agropecuarios,(Association of Small Farmers and Producers) -ASTCAP-, in the municipality of Buenos Aires.
In February, 2020, Mario and several other members of the community had, with the support of the Colombian Commission of Jurists, applied to the Unidad de Restitución de Víctimas (URT) – Territorial Cauca, (Unit for the Compensation of Victims of Land Disputes) to have their land included on the Registro de Tierras Despojadas y Abandonadas Forzadamente, (Register of Lands Forcibly Abandoned).
This was the only way for them to legally assert their claim to the land.