Bogotá / Cali (dpa) – Colombian President Iván Duque has tightened orders for the security forces after days of protests.
“I have instructed the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Interior and the government team, which is in Cali, to ensure the fullest possible deployment of the security forces and provide security for the civilians,” Duque wrote on Twitter Sunday evening (local time). ).
The president also ordered the lifting of the blockades that have been hampering residents’ mobility and supplying the city for days. He also called on the indigenous people to return to their territories.
For nearly two weeks, there have been numerous protests in Colombia, some of which have been overshadowed by violence. According to the latest information from the national ombudsman, at least 26 people were killed during the protest days, about 10 of them by the police and most in Cali. Nearly all deaths are adolescents or young adults.
First, people demonstrated against a controversial tax reform, which would mainly have been at the expense of the middle class and the poorer population. Unemployment is high in Cali and poverty is high. The corona pandemic has made the situation worse. President Iván Duque has since withdrawn the reform. But the protests continue. Most protesters now have new goals, such as opposing a health reform that is also planned and working on the fragile peace process.
In the salsa metropolis of Cali, at least eight indigenous people were shot dead on Sunday as hundreds of indigenous people came to the protests, the broadcaster “RCN Radio” reported, citing the office of the national ombudsman.
The representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in the South American country, Juliette de Rivero, condemned the attacks and expressed deep concern. “We urge everyone to calm down, especially in Cali. The guarantee of human rights is achieved through dialogue and nonviolence. We warn: no more violence, no more violence », Rivero writes on Twitter.
President Duque has been in talks with the opposition, governors and youth for a few days. A meeting with the National Strike Committee for this Monday, Labor Minister Ángel Custodia Cabrera confirmed in a video posted on Twitter.
Duque did not want to travel to Cali. In practice, he seems to have mostly followed his political foster father Álvaro Urive, who wrote on Twitter: “The right of Colombians to live without blockades and without violence is non-negotiable, there is only one word: authority.”
With a population of about 50 million, Colombia is the second most populous country after Brazil and the US’s main ally in South America. Civil war raged for over 50 years, 220,000 people died and millions were displaced. In 2016, the Colombian government signed a peace treaty with the Farc guerrillas, the economy revived, tourism, also from Germany, boomed. But peace is fragile, the excessive police violence is a setback.