Armed cartels and illegal groups in Columbia are executing people or are threatening some if they do not comply with the strict lockdown rules of the country.
On July 15, 2020, the Human Rights Watch said that 9 people in 3 different states have been assassinated in recent months for either refusing to adhere to the lockdown restrictions or by opposing them publicly.
In Tumaco, a town on the Pacific coast, gangs have enforced their own rules, which include stopping residents from fishing after 5 pm.
A community leader from a different region in Columbia was also killed in June this year after he sent a letter that alerted local authorities about the illegal activity.
Edison Leon warned officials that a group called “La Mafia” was forcing locals to man a health checkpoint in Putumayo, which is located in the south-west of the country.
He was killed by an armed group.
José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director for Human Rights Watch, released a statement about the incident, said:
Draconian punishments imposed by armed groups to prevent the spread of Covid-19 mean that people in remote and impoverished communities across Colombia risk being attacked and even killed if they leave their homes.
Groups that are imposing their own rules include dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, as well as the National Liberation Army or even rebels.
Many of them are involved in massive drug trafficking groups.
The rebels are using the pandemic to show their power and to gain credibility in the public’s minds.
During an interview with the press, a community leader in Putumayo, Columbia, whose identity was not shared with the public, said:
They have shut down transport between villages, and when someone is suspected to have Covid-19 they are told to leave the region or they will be killed. And people have no choice but to obey because they never see the government here.
In at least 11 of the 32 states in the country, armed groups are imposing their own lockdown rules.