Human rights defender
Victor Hugo is the former senior advisor and legal representative of the Association of 43 Community Councils of Northern Cauca (ACONC) representing 209 Afro-Colombian communities and their collective and ancestral territories. Currently he is still an active member of the Pandao Community Council of ACONC. He spent most of his life defending the ethnic and territorial rights of the black Afro-Colombian people in the face of natural resource exploitation, such as goldmining, the onslaught of the armed conflict and denial of the right to land and self-determination. Victor is also a peace activist and was part of the delegation of Afro-descendants and indigenous communities in preparation for the Ethnic Chapter of the 2018 Colombian Peace Agreement between the government and the FARC.
Human rights violations in Colombia
Hopes were high that the Agreement would bring an end to the decades long conflict that has plagued Colombia. Unfortunately it seems to not have had a significant impact on the safety and security of human rights defenders in the country. To present, Colombia continues to be one of the most dangerous countries for human rights defenders, with at least 107 defenders killed in 2019, according to human rights organization Frontline Defenders. Cauca, where Victor is from, sees the highest number of killings and Afro-Colombian defenders are amongst those most targeted.
Threats and challenges
Victor himself has dealt with a number of threats and security challenges. His tireless work protecting natural resources and promoting peace and inclusion of ethnic minorities, have led violent actors to target him with threats and attacks, trying to end his leadership.