At least 24 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in a week of brutal clashes between Colombian protesters and police.
When peaceful protests against the tax hike began, it quickly faded, sparking widespread outrage against Ivan Duke’s right-wing government.
The United Nations, the US State Department, the EU, Amnesty International and dozens of non-governmental organizations have condemned the violence, which has plunged the Duke administration into its worst crisis in almost three years.
Gregory Mix, chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was “Extremely anxious By the beast [police] The response to the protest. ”
Amnesty As well as deaths and injuries, it was recorded as “news of arbitrary detention, torture and sexual violence, and disappearances.” It said there was evidence that police used assault rifles in the town of Kali and “showed semi-automatic weapons directly at unarmed protesters” in the town of Popayen.
“In another incident, live ammunition was seen being fired at an armored vehicle in Bogota on May 1. All such weapons are prohibited to disperse protests under international standards.
The United Nations said it was “deeply concerned” about what happened in the town of Kali, where nearly half of the deaths were reported. The U.S. State Department said it was “deeply saddened by the loss of life” and called for “final restraint by the manpower.”
The Duke government has said it is using proportional force to fight violent attacks by protesters armed with guns and Molotov cocktails. It has blamed leftist guerrilla groups at the center of the country’s half-century of civil conflict for the violence. Foreign Minister Claudia Bloom called a meeting of ambassadors on Wednesday to outline the government’s position.
The protests began last Thursday against the government’s massive pand tax reform plan. Protesters said they could not bear the brunt of the tax increase even after more than a year of lockdowns and losing businesses due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The organizers had a bigger protest than expected, saying they would be extended for a few more days. The Duke was under pressure on Sunday and Withdrawal of tax reform billHe said his government would soon introduce an alternative version that would remove the burden from individuals. The next day, his finance minister, Alberto Carascuila, the architect of the reform, resigned.
With a bit between their teeth, the protesters vowed to continue. They have now demanded that the government withdraw a draft health bill, which they say will lead to further privatization of the health system under the epidemic. In rural areas, the focus of protests has been on greater protection from tax reform and greater demands for investment.
On Tuesday, the Duke expanded an olive branch, saying his government would open “a place for citizens to listen and resolve.” Government officials explained that it involved multiple meetings with different sectors of society, starting with political parties, mayors and regional governors. Only next week the government will sit down with the protesting organizers.
“Ivan Duke is a lame duck president, and his attempts to blame terrorists, communists and heavy-handed police officers as the 2022 election draws near have betrayed desperate attempts to maintain control of the national narrative,” said Sergio Guzman, a local consultant to Colombia Risk. Director of Analysis.
Several political observers have said that the protests actually spread from Ecuador and Chile to Colombia and elsewhere in the region, with the resumption of massive anti-government protests in the late 1990s.
Leftist leaders across the Andes, including former Peruvian presidential candidate Vernica Mendoza and current Chilean presidential candidate Daniel Magic, have expressed solidarity with Colombian protesters this week.
The state local office confirmed the deaths of 24 people during the week’s protests, including 17 in the southwestern province of Vali del Kouke, in the country where Kali is the capital. The other seven deaths spread across seven provinces, indicating the breadth of the protests. The local office confirmed 846 people were injured, including 306 civilians.
A local NGO, Temblores, said it had more than 1,400 cases of police violence, including 31 deaths, 814 volunteer detentions and sexual violence.
On Tuesday night, protesters set fire to a small police station in Bogota, where 10 police officers were present. The local government said five people were injured when officials fled.
There are also massive blockades across the country that have led to fuel and food crises in several areas, including Kali.
Protesters in the town of Tokansipi, north of Bogot, attacked an ambulance trying to take a pregnant woman to a hospital in the capital after a premature delivery. The woman was forced to give birth in an ambulance and the baby died, local officials said.