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Maria Leonilda Ravelo Grimaldo

HRD & President
Asociación Nacional de Ayuda Solidaria – ANDAS

Maria Leonilda Ravelo Grimaldo is the president of Asociación Nacional de Ayuda Solidaria – ANDAS (National Association for Solidarity Aid) in Barracabermeja, Magdalena Medio. The human rights defender is also member of the Peace Commission in Colombia. The region of Magdalena Medio has been targeted by operations of several paramilitary groups after the vacuum left by FARC, following the peace agreement with the Colombian government.

HRDs in Colombia work in a violent and unsafe environment. They are subjected to threats, intimidation, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, physical assaults, torture, killings, illegal searches of their homes and offices and stigmatisation as a result of their activities in defence of human rights. The perpetrators of these abuses are frequently paramilitary groups, many of whom have links to the government or security services, or armed opposition groups. The continued frequent and severe threats and attacks against HRDs around the country contradict government claims of paramilitary demobilisation.

HRDs at risk in Colombia come from a broad range of different backgrounds, including: trade unionists, indigenous leaders, afro-colombian leaders, activists working with internally displaced persons and on land issues, women's rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, students and youth activists, church workers, LGBTI and HIV activists.