Francia Márquez is an environmental activist and leader of the Afro-Colombian community in Cauca (southwestern Colombia). She is one of the few who have escaped murder since environmental activists, human rights defenders, and community leaders, defending land against social and environmental extraction, have become a “threat.” It is horrifying. Just in the first sixteen days of 2020, twenty human rights defenders were killed in rural areas of Colombia, more than one per day. This form of violence has increased substantially in the last three decades, dramatically in the last three years, and alarmingly in the first days of 2020.
The collective outcry “Nos están matando” (We are being killed) was first heard in Colombia years ago, with similar outcries taking place in different neighboring countries where, likewise, displacement and forceful disappearances as a consequence of extraction practices were emergent and soon normalized. Moreover, it occurred where extraction was being imposed as the only social and economic logic, the most desirable one. Today, “Nos están matando” is a form of protest outside and across Colombia, led not only by those vulnerable but also by a whole community tired of an imposed invisibility. It is a collective call that asks the government for acknowledgment and action after its repeated claims that such murders are “systematic.” It is a demonstration also addressed to a world that has not yet been exposed to this terrifying news or, in a similar way, does not want to know about them.