Cesar Cerón was attacked after leaving a meeting on May 16. He is the Legal Representative of the Afro-Colombian Community Council of Meseta and currently running for mayor of the municipality of Suárez, Cauca.
Over the course of the last ten years, Cerón has vehemently defended the rights of black, indigenous, and campesino communities confronting violence and displacement at the hands of paramilitaries and multinational corporations. Over the course of the last two years, he has faced extreme risks and been forced to leave the territory due to threats against his life.
The attack on Cerón occurred less than two weeks after the ambush on 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize winner Francia Márquez and other social movement leaders from the Process of Black Communities (PCN) and the Association of Afro-Colombian Community Councils of Northern Cauca (ACONC).
Details of the Attack:
Two armed men stopped Mr. Cerón’s motorcycle on the evening of May 16. They tried to shoot him, but their gun jammed. Cerón threw himself down a ravine to save himself and suffered injuries to his arm. The assailants subsequently burned his motorcycle (see photo). Cerón was fortunately able to call Lisifrey Ararat from the Afro-Colombian Community Council of La Toma, who arrived at his location with the National Protection Unit (UNP) and the autonomous Maroon Guard (Guardia Cimarrona).
In 2015, Cerón worked on the mayoral campaign of Benicio Flor Belalcázar, who was murdered under similar circumstances in Suárez only two weeks before the election that year.
The Colombian government must guarantee effective protection measures for individuals and communities facing attacks and dispossession. These protection measures must be created in consultation with the people affected. That includes bringing the perpetrators of the attacks to justice.