Land Rights Leader Hernán Bedoya Assassinated in Chocó

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Source: Contagio Radio / The Dawn News / December 8, 2017

Photo Credit: Contagio Radio

Hernán Bedoya, renown land rights leader of Choco and of the collective territory of Pedeguita and Mancilla, who had denounced illegal associations, fraudulent contracts and the presence of paramilitaries in the region was murdered. The event happened at around 13:15 in the homestead of Red Beach, in the point known as El Acopio.

According to the denouncement, Hernán was headed towards his house in Pedeguita and Mancilla, when neo-paramilitaries of the self-proclaimed Gaitanist Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) shot 14 times at him, with a 9mm caliber firearm, killing him instantly. This is the second murder of leaders of Curvaradó and Bajo Atrato in less than 10 days.

According to the Peace and Justice Commission, this assassination benefits people that occupied the lands since 1996 with military and paramilitary operations like the black September, where members of the XVII Brigadier of the Army and paramilitaries from the ACCU would have participated.

The struggle of Hernán Bedoya

The social leader opposed the implementation of the agroindustrial projects funded with resources from the National Agency of Lands (ANT) and executed by the publicly traded company called Agricultural Association of Farming People AGROMAR S.A., managed by its polemic legal representative Baldoyno Mosquera Palacios.

His farm was part of the fields in the collective territory of Pedeguita and Mancilla where agroindustrial projects are planned to be imposed “without consultation and not recognizing the precautionary measure that protects collective territory dictated by Antioquia’s Specialized Court in Land Restitution, they wrote an agreement for the agroindustrial exploitation of a 41% of the collective territory (20.000 hectares), for over 100 years”, explained the organization of Humans Rights.

While being one of the leaders of the zone and directly confronting the interests of the business owners, he had been the target of threats from the AGC since 2015 and according to the Justice and Peace Commission, threats which got worse this year. However despite the repeated denouncements, he was only given a bulletproof vest and a cellphone as protection measure by the National Unity of Protection.

With this assassination, it is now three members of the CONPAZ network that have been murdered during 2017: Emilsen Manyoma, Mario Castaño and Hernan Bedoya. In addition to threats against Ligia María Chaverrra, leader and matriarch, and one of the movers of the return of lands in the Bajo Atrato.

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