Bogota Colombia – Anti-government protests took place in Colombia on the eighth day in a row on Wednesday, as human rights groups continued to voice their concerns. excessive violence and security.
Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck. Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck.
But opponents say they will continue to take to the streets, even right-wing President Ivan Duque removes tax changes which forced them to stage protests last week.
“Yes, they have made a change, but they have not changed,” said 48-year-old Olga Cabos, who has been working for a second job since April 28 in Bogota.
“We will not allow the Duque government to continue to make things worse for the poorest of the poor,” he told Al Jazeera.
The controversy was sparked by the unpopular tax reform demanded by the government for economic stability that had been disrupted by the coronavirus epidemic. But Colombian colleagues and activists say the plan favors the rich placing more pressure on them.
Duque dropped the request on Sunday with his own The finance minister resigned the next day, but opponents now demand that the lifting of the health reforms they want be a result of an additional $ 260 million for all Colombians, among other things.
“Although the tax changes were a first step, Colombian protests highlight the various economic, political and economic concerns that the Duque government will face in the face of international pressure,” said Arlene Tickner, a political science professor at the University of Rosario at the University of Rosario. Bogota.
Violence escalated on Monday in the country’s third-largest city, Cali, with protesters claiming police had opened fire on the protesters. Miscellaneous videos that police in Cali – who Al Jazeera could not prove on their own – shared a TV show Tuesday.
Sources at the scene said police had just fired shots regardless of, even helicopters.
The death toll in connection with the protests is highly controversial among government and non-governmental organizations. A Colombian human rights activist says 24 people have been killed, while the Temblores NGO, which reports on police brutality, says 37 people have been killed.
There have been reports of looting and vandalism at some of the demonstrations, and this has been criticized by local politicians.
Violence erupted in Bogota on Tuesday evening, with 30 people and 16 police officers injured, the mayor’s office said in a statement, adding that a mob was trying to “burn alive” 10 police officers by burning down police officers.
Meanwhile, various officials in the United States, the United Nations and the European Union have criticized the police for opening protests. Celebrities, including Colombian-born singer Shakira – who is known for her outspokenness – have also spoken out about the violence.
“I urge the government of my country to take immediate action to end human rights abuses and restore the value of human life above all other political issues,” the singer sent a statement in Spanish on Tuesday.
But, according to Tickner, “international pressure to curb police brutality and human rights abuses have not had much effect on government violence and accountability” so far.
Hundreds were arrested
In a video on Wednesday, Duque reiterated the government’s claim that armed groups were destroying and destroying, and said it had exceeded 550.
“There will be no alliance with those who have done this – everyone will be taken to justice,” Duque said.
The president had already called for a nationwide dialogue “to listen and respond” before the march, similar to the one in 2019, when Colombians took to the streets due to economic inequality, slowly establishing a peace plan and more and more.
Elizabeth Dickson, Colombia’s chief investigator at the International Crisis Group, said that although illegal groups could now take part in the protests, “there is no way you can say for sure that any military or criminal group is encouraging or coercing the protesters”.
What is happening is a “legitimate group”, Al Jazeera told.
“Here in the Bogota capital, the number of people living in poverty has tripled in just one year, so this is a real time of crisis for the whole country and I think these protests could be even worse than in 2019.”
However, Sergio Guzman, a political analyst who runs the Colombian company Risk Analysis, said most of the protesters’ demands were impossible – and would not be accepted by the Duque government.
“Essentials such as start-up capital cannot be met in any way,” he told Al Jazeera, adding that the protesters had not set up negotiations that the government would consider legitimate.
However, he said the government should start addressing the concerns of the opposition, especially police brutality.
Dickson agreed, saying that both groups are now very stable in their respective areas.
“The demand for protesters is growing these days,” he said. “With a list of major changes to the government or bad or bad, it could be big changes, the way the government operates.”