In a wealthy neighborhood of the Colombian city of Cali, there were residents next door police they fire their weapons at the protesters.
They believe they protect their possessions from the crowd.
After 50 days of social protests against the government of right-wing president Ivan Duque, Cali’s class division appears to be widening.
The southeastern city, known for its social inequality and racism, has been the epicenter of violent unrest during the protests.
Turned on May 28, a crowd from some nearby slums appeared in the affluent neighborhood of Ciudad Jardin and tried to burn down the police station.
Residents responded with gunfire.
“It was like a civil war with civilians worried about their homes and property, and the police on both sides of the protesters … who wanted to impose this anarchy and chaos on our neighborhood,” he said. the publicist Andrés Escobar, 30 years old. AFP.
Escobar admits he fired the automatic pistol several times “in the air” that day. It turned out to be the deadliest day of protests in the city, with 13 people dead.
That day was the most egregious example of “a conflict … marked by class differences, racial differences and ethnic differences” that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, said Luis Castillo, a sociologist at Valle University in Cali.
With its luxury boutiques, mansions with pools and palm-fringed avenues, Ciudad Jardin looks like a mini Beverly Hills.
Hardly any of the residents took to the streets to protest Duque.
Nor have they protested the widely condemned police brutality against protesters.
Those who first he protested – initially against a now-withdrawn tax reform proposal – on April 28 most were unions and students demanding a change of government.
But for the first time, young blacks and mestizos from slums were added.
In Cali, where the 67% poverty rate is much higher than the rest of the country, there is a clear “racial segregation,” Castillo said.
This helps explain why slums grew after the pandemic hit the informal sector hard.
The protesters with whom AFP spoke were between 15 and 35 years old and work in the informal sector, are unemployed or are students.
They demand jobs, education and health services.
Some cook and others draw outlines of dead comrades on the floor, while everyone listens to reggaeton and smokes while the hours remain.
They claim to have weapons but can only show homemade shields, sticks and stones.
These people are fed up with “seeing families in misery,” said Plein, the coordinator of the “front line” in the Puerto Madera ravine, who was shot during clashes with police.
“We want the rights to have some money to be the same as the poor,” Plein said.