Five Afro-Colombian teenagers are found brutally tortured and murdered in Cali. According to press reports, they had left their homes that morning to go fly kites. The massacre occurred in Llano Verde, a neighborhood in eastern Cali where the majority of families were forcibly displaced by the armed conflict.
The Llano Verde massacre is one of seven multiple killings in a two-week period across the country, spurring alarm about a return to violence recalling the armed conflict’s most intense years.
An August 17 statement from the UN Mission and UN Country Team in Colombia reports that, so far in 2020, the UN has documented 33 massacres, is following up on reports of 97 killings of human rights defenders, and has verified 41 killings of demobilized ex-combatants.
Assailants in Cali kill Arley Hernán Chalá, a bodyguard of prominent Chocó social leader Leyner Palacios, who is not with him at the time. Chalá is shot 18 times outside his home. “This must have been a message for me and for our process,” says Palacios, a survivor of the 2002 Bojayá massacre who was forced to leave Chocó in February after receiving threats. The threats continued even after Palacios met with President Duque and foreign ambassadors in January.
Visiting Bojayá, Chocó, President Duque promises to increase military presence and social investment in the battered municipality.
That day, Bojayá social leader Leyner Palacios, who had met with President Duque three days before, receives a truculent letter from the commander of the Titan Joint Task Force, a Chocó-based military unit. Palacios had denounced episodes of collusion between members of the security forces and Gulf Clan paramilitaries. In what he calls a “freedom of information request,” Commander Darío Fernando Cardona Castrillón asks Palacios to provide “names or surnames of the security-force members, and the place and date during which such illegal acts were committed, so that respective investigations may be initiated.”
Amid reports of 23 homicides of social leaders in December, a large-scale “Gulf Clan” paramilitary incursion in Bojayá, Chocó, and the murder of human rights defender Gloria Ocampo in Putumayo, the Presidency convenes a rare meeting of the National Security Guarantees Commission that was established by the peace accord.
Bojayá social leader Leyner Palacios, who denounced serious recent threats on his life, is invited to join the Commission’s meeting. Palacios is known nationally as a survivor of the 2002 FARC indiscriminate bombing that destroyed the village’s church, killing 79 people—including 5 of Palacios’s relatives—seeking refuge inside.
High Commissioner for Peace Miguel Ceballos voices doubt that 300 Gulf Clan members could be deployed all at once in Bojayá, as local groups have denounced.