Afro-Colombian community leader assassinated in Medellín

Afro-Colombian community leader Ana Fabricia Córdoba, from the Santa Cruz neighborhood in Medellín, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman on a bus in the city June 7. Córdoba was a leader of communities displaced to Medellín by political violence in the Pacific coastal department of Chocó. She arrived in the city in 2001 when she was forced to flee after paramilitary groups killed her son in Urabá, the violence-torn region that straddles the north of Chocó and Antioquia departments. A second son was killed at the hands of presumed paramilitaries just last year. With her organization, Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres, she was a leading advocate for the recovery of usurped Afro-Colombian lands in the coastal region.

Family and colleagues said Córdoba had been receiving death threats and had asked the government for protection, but had not received any. Colombian Interior Minister Germán Vargas Lleras countered that Córdoba had twice turned down protection offered to her. Córdoba's daughter Diana Ospina said she and her siblings had received a telephone call after their mother's death warning them that they would "end up the same way."

Vice President Angelino Garzón said there would be a thorough investigation into Córdoba's murder. "This government backs the victims and their rights and warns any criminals that cases like Ana Fabricia's won't go unpunished," Garzón said. Colombia's congress this month approved a law to compensate victims of the civil conflict and restitute usurped lands. But Interior Minister Vargas Lleras admitted that it would be impossible to protect each of the thousands seeking the return of their stolen lands. (BBC News, TransAfrica Forum, June 8)

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