Erlendy Cuero, pictured above testifying to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, knows only too well how dangerous it is to speak up for human rights in Colombia. Her brother Bernardo (left), with whom she testified about the situation for Afro-descendant Colombians forcibly displaced by violence from their land, was gunned down last June. As Erlendy pressed for action to bring those responsible to justice, she received warnings that she too will be killed. It is no idle threat. Earlier this year, unidentified gunmen shot and killed two of Bernardo's sons.
Such atrocities were supposed to end with the signing of a peace agreement between the Colombian government and insurgents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Yet since then, assassinations of community leaders have increased, not decreased. Every 11 days, someone in Colombia is killed for defending human rights. A frequent target are leaders of Indigenous, Afro-descendant and campesino communities seeking to defend their land rights in areas of economic interest. Colombian authorities are failing to protect them and allowing the perpetrators to get away with murder.