The Colombian Government Uses The Army To Control Protests Against The Tax Reform

The episodes of violence and disorder returned this Saturday to Bogotá, Cali and other cities in Colombia on the fourth day of protests against the tax reform of the Colombian Government, which coincided with May Day, a celebration of the workers that passed peacefully in the first hours of the day.

Colombian President Iván Duque announced this Saturday that he will rely on the Military Forces to control the disturbances. In a statement in the Casa de Nariño, he explained that this figure of “military assistance” will continue until “the acts of serious disturbance of public order cease” and that it will be coordinated with mayors and governors. “The figure of military assistance will continue in force in urban centers where there is a high risk to the integrity of citizens and where it is required to use the full capacity of the State to protect the population, it is enshrined in the Constitution and the law, and is will keep, “Duque said.

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The riots began in the central Plaza de Bolívar at the end of the afternoon and spread to other parts of the city, even reaching the north, where a crowd that gathered in front of the private residence of the Colombian president, Iván Duque, to expressing her disagreement with the Government, she was dispersed with gases by the Police.

The Police also used tanks to open the way through Carrera Séptima at the height of Calle 145 where the president’s residence is located. In the same northern area of ​​Bogotá, the warehouse in the Country neighborhood of the Éxito supermarket chain was looted and hooded men broke windows of banks and shops.

“After a quiet day, violent groups vandalized businesses in the north and downtown, forcing the intervention of the police,” said the mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López. The president added that she regretted that these events tarnished a “day of youth and just demands. Violence and vandalism solve nothing, they only make everything worse.”

The authorities do not report injuries, but the Ombudsman reported that three people died in recent days in situations related to the protests and another three deaths are pending verification. This week another death was also reported in Neiva, capital of the Huila department, while in Soacha, a town near Bogotá, the police captain, Jesús Alberto Solano, was stabbed to death.

The most massive demonstrations occurred again in Cali, capital of the department of Valle del Cauca and third city in the country, where tens of thousands of people gathered in the area known as Loma de la Cruz and in another called Puerto Rellena, which as a result of the protests is now called Puerto Resistencia. The demonstrations, in which the colors of the national flag predominated, took place for the most part in calm and in a festive atmosphere, except for some outbreaks of clashes with the Police on the way out to Palmira.

Four “chivas” (typical passenger buses in the mountain areas of Colombia) arrived in Cali this Saturday carrying dozens of indigenous people from the neighboring department of Cauca to reinforce the protests against the tax reform that, although Duque has already announced that it will modify, it has not been enough to calm down. Despite the authorities’ recommendations to avoid riots due to the covid-19 pandemic, which is in its third peak in the country, in Cali there were many protesters without wearing the protection mask against the coronavirus.

There were also protests in Pasto, capital of the Nariño department, bordering Ecuador, where a mob demolished the statue of the hero Antonio Nariño (1765-1823), considered the Precursor of the Independence of Colombia. Last Wednesday, the first day of the protests, Misak indigenous people demolished in Cali the statue of the founder of the city, the Spanish conqueror Sebastián de Belalcázar. There were also minor disorders in other cities such as Barranquilla, in the Caribbean region, and in Bucaramanga (east), after concluding the Labor Day celebrations in which the tax reform was the center of the demonstrations.

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