At 10.00am on the morning of 17 April, 2020, human rights defender Teodomiro Sotelo Anacona was out working on his farm in the community of Betania in El Tambo, Cauca, when several armed men arrived and shot him dead in front of his family.
Teodomiro was a member of the Consejo Comunitario Afro- Renacer (Afrodescendant Community Council – Renacer) and had been active in promoting the programme for the substitution of illicit crops. The killing is believed to have been carried out by the dissident Carlos Patiňo unit of the FARC.
The recent arrival of this group in the area has caused an escalation of violence resulting in the displacement of numerous families who have moved to the city because of concerns for their safety.
According to human rights organisation Red por la Vida y los Derechos Humanos del Cauca (Network for Life and Human Rights in El Cauca) 5 other members of Renacer and fifteen community leaders from the villages of Betania, Honduras and San Juan have had to leave the area because they have been directly threatened by dissident units of the FARC.
The local communities are caught in the cross fire in the struggle between two rival factions of the FARC for control of the territory.
According to a spokesperson for the local community who did not wish to be identified, “They are killing anyone who opposes them, who is supporting the voluntary substitution processes or who denounces the violence in the area. Violence is their way of showing their power over their rivals. It is a cruel situation for local people who are trapped between the pandemic and the paramilitaries.”