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Francia Márquez IN THE DEFENSE OF ANCESTRAL TERRITORY

Global Witness confirmed: Colombia is the third country with the highest rates of EHRDs killings in the world, with an impunity rate of 92%. (2018)
'The defense of our territory is paid with life' - says Francia Márquez, an afro-colombian women who is an environmental leader of the afro descendant community in Cauca, Colombia.

Francia Márquez talks from exile. She had to leave her home in the municipality of Suárez, Cauca - Colombia in 2014. Why ? Due to her public complaints about the ilegal mining destroying the Ovejas river, one of the main rivers of the region, which resulted in threats to her life.

There are no exact numbers about the violence against environmental defenders in Colombia, but according to 'Somos Defensores', an organisation which measures violence against social leaders in the country, 370 of them where threatened in 2017. Most of threats are in regions of constant struggle for land, the environment and agriculture.

The expansion of illegal armed groups has implied, directly, the appropriation and control of illicit economies such as drug trafficking and ilegal mining, aiming at the control of territories over this purpose. According to the Ombudsman, these groups exert pressure against community leaders and environmental defenders in these regions.

Most recent numbers of 'Somos Defensores' show that those defending land are at constant risk. Between January and March 2018, 46 social leaders were killed in the country.
Francia Márquez received in 2018 the Goldman Environmental Prize for Central and South America, for her work defending her ancestral territory from ilegal gold mining.
'Francia has been fighting for her community’s rights since her teenage years. She put herself through college, studying law to learn how to protect her people’s rights to their land in the face of corporate interests seeking to force them out and clear the land for industrial agriculture and mining.'

Credits:

1. David Nieto Yusti; Cascada de Tunurco; December 1, 2016; (CC BY-NC 2.0). 2. Adam Cohn; Man Looking at Cauca River, Caucasia, Colombia; March 27, 2017; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). 3. Ximena0798; hermoso valle, cauca, colombia; November 16, 2014; (CC BY-SA 2.0). 4. EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid; Afro-Colombian girl; February 18, 2007; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). 5. Taken from bbc.com 6. Adam Cohn; Gold Mining Slurry, Colombia; March 26, 2017; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).