Leader of Displaced People Killed in Colombia
BOGOTA – The president of an association of displaced people in northeastern Colombia was murdered inside her house in the city of Bucaramanga, the Alternative Democratic Pole, or PDA, party’s committee in Santander province said Sunday.
Elizabeth Silva Aguilar was murdered by some hooded men who “entered her humble dwelling” on Friday in Bucaramanga, the capital of Santander, the PDA said.
Silva Aguilar, a member of the leftist party, was the head of the Association of Homeless and Displaced People in the city, the PDA said.
The non-governmental organization is made up of people affected by the internal armed conflict who settled in Bucaramanga’s Villas de Girardot section.
“This is another murder in the long chain of crimes and intimidation against this community,” the PDA said, adding that neighborhood residents resorted to the courts to prevent their eviction and got a ruling in their favor.
Three members of the association were murdered June 22, while unidentified assailants threw a grenade last month at dwellings in the settlement, the PDA said.
The attacks are apparently being carried out by “recycled paramilitaries who supposedly demobilized,” the PDA said.
More than 40 leaders of displaced people have been murdered in Colombia since 2002.
The population of internally displaced people in Colombia has grown from 1 million to more than 4 million since 2004, Constitutional Court Judge Luis Ernesto Vargas said in September.
Some 2.4 million Colombians were driven from their homes between 2002 and 2009, bringing the total number of displaced people to 4.9 million, non-governmental organizations say.
Ecuador is home to some 53,000 Colombians officially recognized as refugees, but Quito estimates that another 80,000 are on Ecuadorian soil and in need of international protection.
While some people are displaced by combat, whether between the army and the FARC guerrilla group or among rival drug gangs, many rural Colombians have been turned into refugees by thugs working for business interests seeking control of land or resources.
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