An Indigenous Colombian social leader, 23-year-old Marta Carolina Cañas Yagari, is the latest victim of the violence that has killed almost 300 human rights defenders since 2016.
Colombia: Two More Social Leaders Killed, 158 Murdered So Far in 2018
Cañas was found Monday in Karmata Rua, Antioquia, with multiple stab wounds just a few kilometers from her home, the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) said.
An active member of the Embera Chami community, Cañas was reportedly last seen traveling home Sunday night. So far, investigators say there is no known motive for the murder, however, the ONIC recently reported armed groups were seen in the area.
On behalf of her family, the Council of Government of the Indigenous Organization of Antioquia has denounced the killing and is demanding justice for Cañas’ death and respect for the physical integrity of its representatives and leaders in the region.
The Indigenous woman’s murder comes just days after the death of another community leader, Leidy Correa, 25. Correa, who was the Community Action Board secretary in Guayabal, was discovered beaten death after being reported missing just days before.
Newly elected United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet denounced the violence against social activists in Latin America, urging governments to take action and protect their community leaders.
However, Oscar Zapata, a representative of the Colombia-Europe-United States Coordination (CCEEU) in Antioquia, said the violence is a carefully calculated strategy against the human rights movement and over 100 social leaders have abandoned their projects in Baixo Cauca after a “110 percent increase in threats.”
"There is no real desire on the part of the state, there is no real will, and all the policies in the area of prevention and protection show, with these figures, that we are losing the lives of valuable men and women for the country and democracy,” Zapata said.