On 15 January 2020, community leader Samuel Federico Peñalosa was killed during an incursion by a large group of ELN paramilitaries, in the Colombian town of Juntas de Tamaná, in Chocó.
Samuel was 60 years old and until December 2019, he had been a member of the Junta de Accion Comunal (JAC) in Pereira. When the raid was over his body was found in the river. He was a former member of the ELN who had demobilised, and had allegedly been given official protection. Several other members of the community were kidnapped.
Juntas de Tamaná is in the department of Chocó which borders Panama and is a very unsettled area with a lot of paramilitary and criminal activity. Chocó is also a very remote area and the army has sent a team to coordinate with the local authorities, to investigate the circumstances of the killing and at the same time to offer protection to the local community.
In the last year members of indigenous and afro-descendant communities have been terrorised by the presence of a group of up to 300 members of the paramilitary group the “Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC)”. The communities have been threatened with social cleansing while business people have been choked by extortionate demands for money.