Yoanny Yeffer Vanegas Cardona was a community leader in San Jose del Guaviare where he was one of the leading organisers of the peaceful protests against the forced eradication of coca production, that took place between 20 May, 2020, and 16 June, 2020. He also accompanied the delegation representing the communities in meetings with the local authorities and the army.
Yoanny was also a member of the Asociación de Campesinos Trabajadores y Productores del Río Guayabero (Association of Workers, Peasants and Producers of Río Guayabero) ASTRACAGUA.
On 27 June, 2020, his body was found in an area known as El Cruce de Choapal near the village of Picalojo. He had been shot multiple times.
On the same day Yoanny’s brother, Yilmer Enrique Cardona, was arrested by the army and taken in for questioning. As a result of the timing of the two incidents the National Army is being held responsible for the killing of Yoanny.
The army however maintains that the two events are unconnected and further claims that the protests were being organised by members of paramilitary groups.
The local community want to negotiate a settlement of the issue of coca production in the Guayabero area but instead of negotiating the army has simply stepped up the violence. The increased military presence creates the double risk of COVID infection and the targeting of community leaders who are being labeled as members of paramilitary groups.
Local leaders have called on the Defensoría del Pueblo (Human Rights Ombudsman) to visit the area to investigate army violence against the community.