Violent protests erupt in Colombia anew over ‘egregious abuses’
Colombia has been rocked by demonstrations since April after a proposed tax hike that morphed into a mass movement.
Anti-government protesters and police traded blows in demonstrations across Colombia that marked two months of unrest in which more than 60 people have died.
Colombia has been rocked by protests since April, following opposition to a proposed tax hike that morphed into a mass movement against the right-wing administration of President Ivan Duque.
The demonstrators demand an end to police repression and more supportive public policies to alleviate the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has plunged more than 40 percent of the country’s 50 million inhabitants into poverty.
In the capital, Bogota, dozens drew silhouettes of civilians killed by the country’s military in the more than 50-year-long conflict between the state and the FARC guerrillas – violence that has resurged in recent years despite a peace agreement signed in 2016.
Human Rights Watch has accused law enforcement of committing “egregious abuses”, saying police are implicated in at least 20 homicides. The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have condemned police abuses.
The government claims illegal groups involved in drug trafficking and the National Liberation Army (ELN) – Colombia’s last recognised guerrilla group – have infiltrated the protest movement in a bid to sow chaos.
A major group representing the protesters said on June 16 it would suspend demonstrations, promising to “continue our struggle in other settings such as art and concerts”. More hardline factions in the movement have pledged to carry on.