Nelson Medina Ortega or “Tata” Medina, as he was known within the union, was a labour rights defender for the oil workers in Apiay, department of Meta.
When he was killed, Medina was president of the Community Action Board of his village and had been president of ARCA (Asociacion Area Circunvecina de Apiay), but had a eight year history of fighting for labour rights.
According to the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, the night of October 17, two men riding an AX 100 Suzuki motorcycle, arrived at Medina’s home in a rural area near the Apiay refinery, and without exchanging a word, shot him four times in his head, causing his death.
People close to Medina Ortega said that three months earlier, he had received anonymous calls demanding that he resign from the organization.
The Observatory states that, the attack occurred in a context of anti-union practices and policies, in the form of verbal attacks, death threats, attacks on life and personal integrity, by the state.
As newspaper El Tiempo reports although none of the consulted named which illegal armed group would be behind the murder of Medina and another civic leader killed just over a month earlier, many agree that there were third parties interested in taking part in the contracting between community boards and oil companies.
On October 1st, El Tiempo published that “Former ‘paramilitaries’, allied with‘ Urabeños’, and guerrilla groups are going after equipment and food transport contracts and seeking territorial control and a juicy income.”
In the report, an investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office points out, “we are receiving reports that, in 28 municipalities where new and multimillion-dollar oil projects are advancing – in Meta, Casanare and Putumayo – the management of vacancies has become the ‘booty’ of criminal organizations.”