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  • Social organizations in solidarity with the farmers blame the government for the massacre. Photo: @NCprensa

    Social organizations in solidarity with the farmers blame the government for the massacre. Photo: @NCprensa

Colombian authorities continue to investigate the possibility of more deaths.

The official death toll from the Tumaco massacre in Colombia rose to seven on Thursday, according to authorities.

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"One more person has died amongst the wounded and this now raises the the total dead to seven," said the mayor of Tumaco, Julio Cesar Rivera.

Anti-Narcotics Police opened fire on an organized demonstration of at least 1,500 coca farmers who were preventing members of the Anti-Narcotics Police from forcefully destroying their crops, the main source of income for the farmers. At least 20 were injured in the assault.

Protesters had demanded that the government follow through with promised crop substitution and infrastructure development that would allow for a legitimate alternative to illicit crops while helping farmers stay afloat. These provisions are part of the Colombian peace accords that were implemented into law in Nov. 2016.

Authorities continue to investigate claims that there may be another victim "from community information, however, identification and discovery have not been possible," said Colombian Vice President Oscar Naranjo, who moved his office to Tumaco after the massacre.

In the aftermath of the massacre, Colombian officials initially blamed the deaths on dissenting members of FARC.

The FARC has recently registered as a legitimate political party that will participate in Colombian elections after demobilizing and surrenduring its weapons to the United Nations.

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Tumaco is the municipality with the most coca cultivation in the Colombia and suffers from a surge of armed groups that fight over corridors to smuggle drugs to the United States, routed through Central America.

According to the Alliance for Global Justice, “the United States is pressuring Colombia to abandon the voluntary program in favour of forced eradication, which frequently results in state violence. The White House is also urging Colombia to return to aerial fumigation of illicit crops with Monsanto’s RoundUp Ultra.”

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