On Saturday May 4, armed men opened fire at a group of environmental activists in Santander de Quilichao, Colombia. Afro-Colombian environmental activist Francia Márquez was among those in the targeted group.
Márquez is one of the leading voices of the environmental rights movement. She was awarded a Goldman Prize recognizing her work in 2018.
“This unfortunate situation we had to go through has been one of many situations that leaders in the country have to deal with,” Márquez reportedly said in President Iván Duque who said it was a “cowardly attack.”
“We don’t want to continue sacrificing our lives and we want to continue walking peacefully in our territories without fear for our lives,” she added.
Duque has been heavily criticized for actively attempting to undo the 2016 peace accords.
“This is a humanitarian crisis. We want to share our concerns particularly with politicians who have spoken openly about undoing the peace accord because that would mean returning to violence,” Luis Fernando Arias, Secretary General of the National Organization of Indigenous Peoples of Colombia, said during a July 2018 Washington, D.C. hearing where activists sought support from the U.S. to uphold the peace accords.
Other activists, including Carlos Rosero and Clemencia Carabalí, were also with Márquez. The armed men allegedly launched a grenade at the group.
Márquez explained on Twitter that she was in the region hoping to meet with the government that day following local activism efforts, or “Mingas”—a Quechua word that means “collective organizing.”
Como pueblo negro del Norte del Cauca estabamos preparando una reunion para los diálogos con el Gobierno en el marco de los acuerdos con La Minga y fuimos atacados con armas y granadas por hombres armados, tenemos dos hombres de la UNP heridos.
— Francia Márquez Mina (@FranciaMarquezM) May 4, 2019
Márquez also took to Twitter to denounce the lack of governmental support when it comes to protecting activists, saying that it is time to end the “politics of death” for one that “guarantees life and peace.”
— Francia Márquez Mina (@FranciaMarquezM) May 6, 2019
Some have shown their support for Márquez and those present, including activist Rigoberta Menchú.
Mi profundo rechazo al atentado de esta noche en el Cauca, Colombia. Expreso mi total solidaridad con @FranciaMarquezM y sus compañera/os. ¡ No más violencia contra las y los defensores de derechos humanos en #Colombia ! https://t.co/6cKOCpKeGD
— Rigoberta Menchú Tum (@RigobertMenchu) May 5, 2019
Amanda Alcántara is the Digital Media Editor at Futuro Media. She tweets from @YoSoy_Amanda.