August 3, 2021

Thousands of protesters mobilized again in Colombia against President Ivan Duque

The political and social crisis that has shaken the country since the end of April continues to mobilize Colombians. Thousands of people protested again, Wednesday, June 9, against President Ivan Duque, in Colombia, where demonstrations of an unprecedented scale have killed dozens of people and while negotiations with the government are not progressing.

Taking to the streets of several cities, the demonstrators demand in particular the end of police repression and more united public policies due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has plunged 42% of the fifty million inhabitants of the country in poverty.

“We need perspectives, that education, health, is a right and not a privilege! “, ignites Sofia Perico, a 15-year-old high school student, who came to demonstrate with her family in front of a hotel in the center of the capital where a delegation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is holding its meetings. “We want a change in social policy, in economic policy (…), the people simply can’t take it anymore ”, adds Professor Dernir Galvis, another protester.

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Violent clashes with the police

The social crisis, which erupted on April 28 against a plan to increase taxes (which has since been withdrawn), results in almost daily demonstrations of varying importance, roadblocks, affecting in particular the southwest of the country, and violent clashes with the police. The international community denounced the excesses and abuses of the police, which motivated the visit of the IACHR from June 6 to 10.

In Bogota, natives also attempted to overthrow the statues of Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella the Catholic, located on an avenue leading to El Dorado International Airport. “Here we want to denounce these crimes against humanity from more than five hundred years ago, which continue to be committed today. The ways of governing and repressing the people remain the same “said Edgar Velasco, a 36-year-old Native American, protesting near the statues whose approaches were cordoned off by police.

Conservative President Duque on Sunday announced police reform focused on respect for human rights, but has drawn criticism over the limited scope of the promised measures.

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More than sixty people, including two police officers, have died since the start of the protests, according to the authorities and the People’s Defender, a public rights protection body. For its part, the NGO Human Rights Watch assured, on Wednesday, that it had received “Credible denunciations” concerning thirty-four deaths, twenty of which were apparently due to the police, of which sixteen were caused by bullets fired with the intention of “Kill”. Nearly 2,400 civilians and police officers were also injured in nearly a month and a half of protests, according to a report from the Ministry of Defense.

The World with AFP