More than twenty deaths, many premises looted, important cities in the country practically taken over by military commanders and the announcement that the clashes between civilians and the Police have only just begun is part of a war that is fueled in Colombia after seven days of demonstrations and harsh protests. Although in the capital, Bogotá, the situation is reduced to a demonstration of truck drivers that affects mobility, in Cali, where violence has been concentrated, citizens accumulate anger and fear at the same time. There is fear of the military who shoot to give. And panic to the vandals who steal and cause destruction.
Dismayed by the scenes that are being lived these days in the country, the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, urged the Government on Tuesday to allow peaceful protests, after denouncing an excessive use of force by the security forces. Human Rights also expressed its concern about the violation of human rights, by a police force that opens easy fire on the protesters. The singer Shakira and J Balvien have joined the group of Colombians who ask the president, Iván Duque, to stop the massacre.
Covid-19 is no longer the main concern. The pandemic is no longer a retaining wall for the disenchantment accumulated by a country where poverty reaches more than 21 million, unemployment is close to 17% and the virus has made it the second South American country, after Brazil, with the most victims.
The first shot was fired at the portfolio of citizens by the government of Iván Duque at the end of April. His then Minister of Finance, Alberto Carrasquilla, proposed a tax reform that was a direct attack on the pockets of the salaried and most vulnerable classes. The unions and the opposition called on the people to hold strike sessions and demonstrate as long as sanitary measures were respected. But the “time bomb” exploded.
People didn’t just come out to protest the tax reform. He reflected on the street all the accumulated discontent. A historical resentment, of unresolved needs, of young people who see that their hopes are null and have taken to the streets to express their nonconformity. In social networks, many show their disagreement with anarchism and the violence that has killed a score of protesters. This was confirmed by the Ombudsman’s Office, which this Tuesday also denounced the disappearance of at least 87 people.
In his attempt to stop the wave of protests, Iván Duque reaffirmed his desire to maintain the militarization of the most affected areas, while accepting the resignation of the Minister of Finance and withdrawing the tax reform project. But none of this has calmed the spirits of a country that has stopped believing in it and demands an end to inequality.
But nothing good can be expected from a nation in which a former president, Álvaro Uribe, who ruled the country for eight years, the main opponent of the Peace Treaty with the extinct FARC guerrilla and leader of the Democratic Center, used social networks to support the actions of the Police: “Let us support the right of soldiers and agents to use their weapons to defend their integrity and to defend people and property from criminal acts of vandalism terrorism.” The tweet was censored by the social network itself, which blocked the account for a few hours.
Criticism of Uribe
Only the mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López, responded forcefully to Uribe: «His irresponsible messages triggered the tension. We will not allow our youth to be slaughtered. ‘ He also ordered the removal of the agents from the capital so that the protesters could return to their homes. In parallel, the former Colombian president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos offered to meet with Duque on Tuesday to help find solutions to the serious crisis.
The new Minister of Finance, José Manuel Restrepo, wants to discuss with the main parties his new project in which those most vulnerable workers continue without paying income tax, but the opposition has refused to dialogue in protest at the actions of the force public. Meanwhile, a new confrontation was expected in Cali last night. The city, besieged by the military, has been without gasoline for a couple of days and the hospitals are in an emergency due to the lack of oxygen, which cannot be reached due to the blockade of the highways. Likewise, basic necessities are scarce.
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