QCOLOMBIA – The Palace of Justice in Tulua, Colombia was set on fire this week amid protests and a general strike over poverty, police abuse, human rights, and social justice in the country.
At least 42 protesters have been killed by police officers since April 28 when people began demonstrating against the government of President Ivan Duque.
On Wednesday, Colombia’s Mobile Anti-Riot Squadron (ESMAD) unleashed another night of terror in Bogota, injuring 82 people after cracking down on a peaceful protest, with expired tear gas canisters and firearms.
According to the Red Cross, 60 of the injured suffered eye and respiratory tract damages, 15 received injuries to the head, face, arm, and legs, and three were left with cranioencephalic or cervical traumas.
Videos spread on social networks show ESMAD agents storming a pharmacy in the Usme community to beat health workers and injured people who were sheltering there from police brutality.
“The mildly injured are being attended to by Red Cross workers and first aid paramedics. The seriously wounded are being transferred to hospitals in ambulances,” Bogota’s Government Secretary Luis Gomez tweeted.
From April 28 to May 25, Colombia has registered 3,155 acts of police brutality, 43 homicides committed by security forces, 165 cases of shooting with firearms, and 1,388 arbitrary detentions.
Nevertheless, Bogota’s Mayor Claudia Lopez assured that only 2 out of 43 deaths were carried out by security forces agents.
Across the country, in the streets of most Colombian cities, people are protesting against the government of President Iván Duque, demanding, as usual, on the dismantling of the Esmad. Also among the demands was the resignation of Defense Minister Diego Molano, who has been singled out as the person politically responsible for Esmad’s doings.
In other protest scenarios, peasants demand the right to land, the application of agrarian reform, the cessation of glyphosate fumigation; indigenous people ask for respect for their cultures, the end of stigmatization, among many other claims. Ex-guerrillas of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) demand the comprehensive implementation of the Peace Agreement and denounce the murders of former combatants.
The National Strike Committee (CNP) still awaits the signing of the preliminary agreement on guarantees for the protests, as the government appointed Emilio Archila to become its new chief negotiator after the resignation of Miguel Ceballos.
The Committee continues to demand full protest rights as a result of recent police repression.
Violence has never stopped since the beginning of the uprisings.