July 26, 2021

repression in the face of the youth revolt

Despite the pandemic, despite the repression and sometimes despite the rain, Colombian youth have been in the streets for a month. “We don’t have a job or a future. We have nothing to lose except our lives ”, explained Jeyson, 19, and tattoos everywhere in mid-May. He lives in a hovel in the suburbs of the city of Cali and is part of the Primera Linea (First Line), the improvised order service responsible for ensuring the safety of the demonstrators and keeping the barricades which, here and there, bar the avenues of the city. “The police shoot us on sight, the president sends the army. If the international press were not there, we would be massacred. How do you want us to believe in dialogue? “, Jeyson continues over the phone. Thirteen people were still killed Friday, May 28, in Cali, including eight by firearms, according to municipal authorities.

The international community is concerned about the evolution of the Colombian situation and the virulence of the repression. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for an investigation on Sunday “Fast, efficient and impartial” on deadly violence. “It is essential to investigate those responsible for the injuries inflicted and the deaths, including public officials,” says the UN press release. According to his services, 98 people were injured Friday in Cali, including 54 by bullets. Like Mme Bachelet, the 17 European Union ambassadors stationed in Bogota called on the parties to dialogue. “The country demands reconciliation and an end to violence”, diplomats tweeted on Sunday.

The human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) says it has received “Credible information” on the deaths of 63 people since the start of anti-government protests across the country.

“Vandals” and “terrorists”

The mobilization touches all cities and all young people, from students of upscale universities to desperate adolescents from the poorest neighborhoods. Colombian flag on the shoulders, all demand an end to police violence. Everyone dreams of a more just country. Some have rabies, and violent incidents are almost daily.

Despite calls for dialogue from human rights organizations and the international community, Ivan Duque (right) maintains a hard line. His government has treated the protesters in turn “Vandals” and of “Terrorists”. He accused them of being infiltrated by guerrillas and drug traffickers, financed by Russian presidents Vladimir Putin and Venezuelan Nicolas Maduro, or even manipulated by Gustavo Petro – the leader of the Colombian left.

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