Francia Márquez defending afro-colombian ANCESTRAL land - Colombia

Since 2017, Colombia has ranked #1 in the world as the deadliest country for land and environmental human rights defenders.
'The defense of our land is paid with life' - says Francia Márquez, an Afro-Colombian woman who is an environmental leader of the Afro-descendant community in Cauca, Colombia.

Francia Márquez talks from exile. She was forced to leave her home Suárez, Cauca in 2014 due to the threats against her life after her exposure and complaints about illegal mining destroying the Ovejas River, one of the main rivers in the Colombian Pacific rainforest.

Different organizations are trying to collect data on the number of cases and threats environmental human rights defenders face in Colombia, but according to Global Witness, in 2019, 64 activists were killed for their work. Most of killings are linked to the "challenges of implementing the 2016 Peace Agreement including land reform and programmes meant to encourage farmers to swap illegal crops for legal harvests. The resulting shifts in local power dynamics is driving increased violence".

The vacuum power left by the former rebel group FARC and the expansion of other armed groups who control illegal economies such as drug trafficking and illegal mining, has led to forced displacement and land grabbing of Afro-Colombian, indigenous and farmers lands. According to the State Ombudsman, these groups exert pressure over community leaders and environmental defenders.

According to 'Somos Defensores' those defending land are at constant risk. Between January and March 2018, 46 social leaders were killed in the country.
In 2018, Francia Márquez received the Goldman Environmental Prize for Central and South America for her work defending her ancestral land 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.'


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).