Cali, Colombia – Cali has become the epicentre of anti-government protests since April 28 over a tax reform proposal by President Ivan Duque’s right-wing government that intends to tax basic goods and food for an already impoverished working class struggling through the pandemic.
The streets of Cali, the third largest city of Colombia with almost 2.5 million inhabitants, have witnessed intense police violence and alleged human rights violations.
According to Temblores, an independent human rights NGO that has been documenting the protests, 47 civilians have been allegedly killed by Colombian police including 32 in Cali; while the state prosecution office says the number is 27.
The protests, which started over the tax proposal, now aim to address economic and social inequality, the handling of the pandemic and the deaths of civilians at the hands of police since the unrest began.
Protesters have build roadblocks and barricades around the city that they are calling “resistance points”. In Siloé, one of Cali’s most neglected and poor neighbourhoods, the barricade has become the scene of violent clashes.
On Wednesday, tensions eased for a community lunch and open speeches. At “Resistance Port”, one of the biggest barricades in the city, the day was filled with music and tributes to the protesters who have been killed. The day passed peacefully.
The protesters say they will not move until their demands are met. Meanwhile, their barricades are blocking some of the entry roads into the city, causing fuel and other shortages.