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.
The Rastrojos, a remnant of what had been a larger post-AUC paramilitary group, massacres seven people in rural Tibú, Norte de Santander. The attack displaces 400 people. Meanwhile an armed group’s explosive on the roadside between Cúcuta and Tibú kills two soldiers and wounds eight more. The violence highlights a worsening conflict between the Rastrojos and the ELN for control of border crossings between Colombia (Tibú, Puerto Santander, and Cúcuta municipalities) and Venezuela.
For security reasons, Colombia’s government helps to relocate an entire settlement of demobilized FARC guerrillas from the Román Ruiz post-conflict demobilization site (ETCR) in Ituango, Antioquia, to the neighboring municipality of Mutatá, several hours’ drive away, where the government has rented new land. Twelve members of the ETCR had been killed in the site’s vicinity since the FARC demobilized. The Gulf Clan and Caparros paramilitary groups are active in Ituango, as are dissident members of the FARC’s old 18th Front.
Armed men massacre four people and wound two others in Samaniego, Nariño, a zone of longtime ELN influence. The National Police reportedly hypothesize that the massacre was a dispute over narcotrafficking. One of those wounded was arrested in April 2019 and charged by the Prosecutor-General’s Office (Fiscalía) of ELN affiliation; the charges were later dropped.
Local leaders in Monterredondo, Miranda, Cauca, advise FARC ex-combatants at the local reincorporation site that they should displace because of threats received from an unidentified armed group. On June 10, threats force the displacement of 20 ex-combatants from El Diamante, La Uribe, Meta.
Interior Minister Alicia Arango voices consternation at the security situation in Cauca department. “We don’t know what we’re doing wrong, why this isn’t working,” she says, proposing further military deployments and a system of rewards for informants.
The Human Rights Ombudsman’s office (Defensoría) issues an “early warning” alert about armed groups’ activities during the COVID-19 emergency. Between March 23 and April 27, the agency documents 72 threats or other violent acts that groups have justified by claiming enforcement of public health measures. It documents ten cases in which armed groups killed people for violating the quarantine rules that they had put in place. Of 41 violent acts, the Defensoría finds FARC dissidents responsible for 14, the ELN for 11, neo-paramilitary groups 6, the EPL 2, and the rest other organized crime groups or unknown armed actors.
A statement from the Colombian Catholic church’s Episcopal Conference voices “pain and concern” about increasing levels of violence and human rights abuse in several regions of the country, and calls on all armed groups to engage in a ceasefire during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gunmen massacre social leader Álvaro Narváez and three members of his family at their home in rural Mercaderes, Cauca.
Eight members of the “Carlos Patiño Front” FARC dissident group are reported dead in Argelia, Cauca, following combat with the Army.
Combat between the ELN and the Gulf Clan in rural Bojayá, Chocó, which began on March 28, forces the displacement of 193 indigenous people. 393 more people displace less than two weeks later.