Late on the night of 01 June, 2020, human rights defender Arcángel Pantoja was kidnapped from his home in Puerto Libertador; Córdoba. Later his body was found between the communities of Río Sucio and Santa Rosa.
On the same night Omar Agudela was kidnapped, in similar circumstances, from his home in the village of Juan José and he was later found dead near the village of Villanueva.
Both men were founder members of Asociación de Campesinos del Sur de Córdoba (Association of Peasants of the Sur de Córdoba)-ASCSCUCOR. In addition, Omar was a member of the Junta de Acción Comunal – JAC – in Rio Sucio.
The two men had also been involved in organising the farmers’ strikes of 2013 and 2019, 2020.
The first five months of 2020 were the most violent period in terms of murders of social activists since the peace agreement was signed in November 2016. According to the human rights organisation INDEPAZ, 117 such killings were committed between 1 January and 31 May.
There is an ongoing battle for control of the territory between members of criminal groups Los Caparros and the Clan del Golfo. This resulted in a shoot out in the centre of the urban area of San José known as El Planchón.
Community leaders complain of feeling abandoned by the state and have called for immediate action to protect the lives of civilians who have been caught up in these territorial disputes.
In December 2019, the Defensoría del Pueblo (Human Rights Ombudsman) issued an urgent appeal to the government highlighting the state of extreme insecurity in the south of Córdoba.