Protesters are calling for an end to police violence and more financial support during the pandemic, amid a long list of demands.
Anti-government protests have entered their third week in Colombia, as union members, students, pensioners and more took to the streets to protest against recent violence and demand financial aid from the country affected by the pandemic.
The demonstrations, which have sometimes become violent, were initially fueled by the outrage of the Colombian government. now retired tax reform plan.
Ara, the protesters are demanding that the police be responsible for the excessive violence used during the ongoing demonstrations and calling for the withdrawal of a proposal to further privatize the country’s health system.
Up to 40 people killed in connection with the protests are being investigated by the human rights defender, although the exact number is still being discussed. Local and international rights groups allege the toll may be higher and have blamed police for the violence.
Thousands of people gathered on Wednesday in Plaza Bolivar in Bogota.
Cristian Urena, a student of the protest, told the Associated Press that “police actions have been a total violation of human rights against all protesters and all of us who are protesting in peace in Bogota as they are in the rest of the cities ”.
“Police abuses are too frequent,” Urena said.
John Jaime Jimenez, 47, who works for the Green Party, told Reuters he wanted to end the violence the government often accuses drug traffickers. “We demand that the massacres be stopped,” he said.
President Ivan Duque has offered dialogue, but many protesters have expressed skepticism that government promises will lead to change. Meanwhile, the national police have launched dozens of disciplinary investigations and so far three officers are facing murder charges.
But demonstrations and roadblocks have continued daily across the country. A la western city of Cali, about 200 people gathered Wednesday morning at a local university.
“There are no jobs in Cali or Colombia,” said Daniel, a 50-year-old construction worker who refused to give his last name to Reuters news agency. “We’ve been silent for too long.”
Many Latin American countries – already deeply unequal and politically volatile – have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has pushed back recent advances against poverty. Unemployment in Colombia reached almost 17% in urban areas in April.
But the the protests go further anger over the inequality and impact of COVID-19, said Gimena Sanchez, director of the Andes at the Washington Office in Latin America.
Colombia has also struggled with decades of bloody civil strife and drug violence for a 2016 peace deal to diminish but not end.
“Colombia’s protests are not just COVID, but they are about anger towards the Duke for police repression from 2019, for not advancing the 2016 peace agreement, for the increase in massacres and murders of social leaders and the perception of the middle and working class Colombians that the government is only interested in advancing the agendas of the economic and political elites, ”said Sánchez