BOGOTA – A leader of the Embera Catio Indians in the northwestern Colombian province of Cordoba was gunned down Tuesday inside his home, the country’s largest indigenous organization said.
Carmen Fuentes, 48, was a councilor of the El Porvenir-La Fe community.
His murder brings to 20 the number of Indians killed this year in the Andean nation, Luis Evelis Andrade, president of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, or Onic, told Efe.
Twelve of the victims were members of Senue communities in Antioquia province, bordering Cordoba.
Onic and regional indigenous organizations have attributed the killings to former paramilitaries now engaged in drug trafficking.
“We are concerned and outraged over what is happening to the indigenous peoples in the country,” Andrade said, pointing out that the increase in violence has coincided with court rulings ordering authorities to protect Indian communities.
Indigenous people nationwide face threats from “various armed groups,” Onic’s president said.
Colombia’s roughly 1 million indigenous people – out of an estimated total population of 44.7 million – are divided among 120 ethnic groups.
Indigenous communities often find themselves caught in the crossfire between security forces and leftist rebels. They are also targets for hired guns working on behalf of powerful interests who covet the Indians’ land or natural resources. EFE