Protesters have called for an end to police violence and more financial support during the pandemic, amid long lists of demands.
Protests against the government enter Colombia in the third week as union members, students, pensioners and more take to the streets to protest against the latest violence and seeking financial assistance in a pandemic country.
Demonstrations that have sometimes been violent have sparked outrage from the Colombian government now retired tax reform plan.
Now, protesters are demanding demanding police responsibility in the face of excessive violence used in ongoing demonstrations and calling for the withdrawal of a proposal to further privatize the country’s health care system.
The human rights ombudsman is investigating 40 people killed in the protests, although the exact number remains under discussion. Local and international rights groups have complained that the toll could be higher and blamed the police for the violence.
Thousands of people gathered on Wednesday in Bolivar Square in Bogota.
Protest student Cristian Urena told the Associated Press, “Police action has been a total violation of human rights by all protesters and all of us who are protesting peacefully in Bogotá.
“Police abuses are too frequent,” Urene said.
John Jaime Jimenez, 47, who works for the Green Party, told Reuters that the government wants to end the violence it often accuses drug traffickers. “We urge you to stop the massacres,” he said.
President Ivan Duque offered an interview, but many protesters have expressed skepticism that the government’s promises will bring about change. Meanwhile, the national police have launched dozens of disciplinary investigations and so far the three agents have been charged with murder.
But demonstrations and roadblocks have continued daily across the country. In the western city of Cali, About 200 people gathered Wednesday morning at a local university.
“There is no work in Calian or Colombia,” Daniel, a 50-year-old construction worker, told Reuters news agency. “We’ve been too quiet.”
Many Latin American countries – already highly unbalanced and politically unstable – have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has pushed back the last steps against poverty. Colombia’s unemployment rate reached nearly 17 percent in urban areas in April.
But the protests go beyond that anger against inequality and the impact of COVID-19, said Gimena Sanchez, Andean director at the Washington office in Latin America.
Colombia has also struggled with decades of bloody civil strife and drug violence, while the 2016 peace deal has diminished but not ended.
“Colombian protests are not just about COVID, anger over Duque over police repression from 2019, failure to pursue the 2016 peace deal, massacres and killings of social leaders, and the perception of middle-class and working-class Colombians as the government. only, ”Sanchez said