Manuel Ruiz was one of the most active leaders in the land restitution process in the Curbaradó and Jiguamiandó river basin areas, located in the Bajo Atrato region of the Chocó department. This process was part of the Plan de Choque (a plan to prioritise and speed up land restitution processes) during the government of President Juan Manuel Santos. Manuel Ruiz participated in the Census Committee, established to identify people who had been displaced from the river basin area and thereby determine people had the right to land restitution.
During this process, the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz – J&P), an NGO which accompanies a number of communities in the Bajo Atrato region, reported the presence of neo-paramilitary groups and an increase in threats against leaders in the area. However, despite having warned state officials about Manuel Ruiz’s risk situation and death threats against him, on 23 March 2012 he was murdered by alleged paramilitaries, along with his youngest son Samir Ruiz.
Manuel’s older son James Ruiz, took on a leadership role after the death of his father and brother Samir, and because of this the Ruiz family became forcibly displaced. However, in 2013, with accompaniment from the CIJP and PBI, the Ruiz family was able to return to their farm, located in Apartadocito, in the collective territory of Curbaradó, and establish it as a Humanitarian Zone. To date, the Ruiz family continues to live in the territory waiting for the restitution of their land, in spite of persistent threats against the family.
 Semana: Gobierno anuncia ‘plan de choque’ para la restitución de tierras, 20 October 2010
 Semana: Asesinatos de Manuel Ruiz y su hijo, otro golpe a la restitución de tierras, 28 March 2012
 CIJP: Plan de atentado a James Ruiz y asesinato de joven por paramilitares, 1 February 2016
**Video realized by Javier Bauluz and produced thanks to the support the International Cooperation Agency of Extremadura for the Development (AEXCID)