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Colombia: Environmental defenders reporting on negative impacts of business at huge risk

"Land Defenders Keep Getting Killed in Colombia", 25th November 2020

...“COVID-19 gave illegal armed groups the space they needed to strengthen,” Isabel Zuleta said, another Rios Vivos leader who also gets regular threats. “With everyone shut up in their homes, people are seeing groups of 20, 30 paramilitaries patrolling rural areas.” Violence against social leaders worsened by 85% since the start of the pandemic, according to experts.

In October, Front Line Defenders, a human rights organization, sent a letter to Colombian authorities expressing concern about Zuleta’s security, and that of Rios Vivos more generally. The letter referred to the sustained death threats against Muriel, as well as a smear campaign by a university professor...

According to Colombia’s mining registry, AngloGold Ashanti has extensive gold mining interests in Cauca. Other NGOs have also denounced AngloGold for having a negative impact on human rights in the region for years. Both Santander de Quilichao and Suarez had suffered historical violence throughout Colombia’s armed conflict including displacements, massacres, and assassinations and both municipalities have continued to endure violence after the 2016 peace deal. This year alone, there have been massacres in Suarez, Santander de Quilichao, and in neighboring Buenos Aires...