On Monday August 10, 2015 Gilmer Genero Garcia, a leader of the Afro-Colombian community in Narino Department, was murdered in the municipality of Tumaco. Residents of the area have indicated they believe the FARC guerrillas are responsible for Genero’s assassination. The FARC’s Mobile Column Daniel Aldana has had a substantial presence in the area for several years and since 2009 has reportedly controlled coca-growing there and carried out extortion of area residents. A FARC commander had threatened Genero with death nine months ago and when Genero’s sister was murdered 3 years ago the authors of the crime identified themselves as FARC members.
Genero’s murder raises a serious question: If the FARC are responsible for killing him, have they violated the terms of their ceasefire agreed upon in the Havana peace talks? Are the FARC guerrillas able to murder civilians like Gilmer Genero without violating the terms of the ceasefire they have agreed to in Havana? Does the ceasefire only apply to the FARC’s actions against the Colombian Army and Police forces?
We believe the answer to the first question is “yes” and the answers to the next two questions is “no”. The ceasefire must be considered to apply to actions against civilians as much as it does to state forces. We call upon the FARC to clarify their responsibility for the murder of Gilmer Genero and to state clearly that crimes against community leaders and other civilians constitute violations of the letter and spirit of the ceasefire they have supposedly implemented. If they carried out Genero’s killing, they should respond with information identifying the responsible individuals and make them available for prosecution. And we call upon them to forswear armed actions against community leaders and reaffirm their commitment to a general ceasefire.
We send our condolences to the family of Gilmer Genero and express our heartfelt hope that the attacks against and persecution of his family stop and those responsible for his killing be identified and prosecuted.
John I. Laun, President of the Colombia Support Network, on behalf of its Board
Madison, Wisconsin, August 13, 2015