Image: Community members protesting Otto’s murder
Otto Valenzuela was a human rights defender in the town of Frontera in Putumayo, Colombia, who participated in the assemblies of the Association for Sustainable Holistic Development of the Perla Amazónica (ADISPA) and was the transparency monitor for his town’s Community Action Board. He was also a promoter of the the peace treaty’s programmes aimed at replacing illicit crops with legal ones.
On 8 October, 2018, other members of ADISPA found the HRD’s lifeless body in the border town. He had been killed by a gunshot. Yaneth Silva, a member of ADISPA, said that on the morning of the killing the social leader was working in the community minga (a form of collective work action; for more information click here.) and later retired to his home. She said that neighbours later reported hearing a shot, but did not alert the authorities because they did not imagine that it was an act of violence.
Yaneth also said that ADISPA reported the facts to the police, who told them they could not approach the place “because it is very out-of-the-way” and made the recommendation “to be very careful with the issue of collecting bullet casings for the investigation,” delegating to civilians tasks for which only to the Police or the Prosecutor’s Office are responsible. For this reason, Yaneth Silva stated that in addition to causing “irreparable damage to the community”, Otto’s murder has generated anxiety at a community level and discouragement in other social leaders who fear for their lives.
Based on the original report by HSB News