Environmental defenders and sustainable development advocates are being killed in high numbers in Colombia as violent conflicts erupt over land and resources, Vox reports. For decades the civil war between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was funded by the drug trade. In the vacuum following the 2016 peace agreement, armed groups seeking to establish drug trades or mining operations are fighting for control over rural regions, putting people like Javier Francisco Parra Cubillos, who sought to protect the nation’s forests, in the crosshairs.
Environmental defenders are often targeted for violence in the US and around the world. In 2019, Colombia was the most dangerous nation in the world for environmental protectors. Alleviating the violence in Colombia will require “basic services, health care, education, and a judicial presence as well, not just a security presence,” said Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin American program at the Wilson Center. (Vox)