Cali is once again the epicenter of violence during another day of protests in Colombia. This Friday, three people died in the La Luna neighborhood of the third Colombian city. Videos broadcast on social networks show a public prosecutor, armed and dressed in civilian clothes, fleeing after shooting two protesters. In revenge, a group of hooded men hunt him down and lynch him to death. The attorney general Francisco Barbosa confirmed that he was an official of this entity, but assured that he was not on duty. “Fredy Bermudez was attached to the Technical Investigation Corps and, according to information collected so far, he fired at several people causing the death of some civilians,” confirmed Barbosa and lamented the death of the three people. The president, Iván Duque, traveled to the city to attend a security council in the face of the chaos unleashed during the day.
According to the versions that have transpired in Cali, Bermúdez was upset by the blockade of the road and used his endowment weapon against the protesters. The videos show one of the young men killed on the asphalt. “This situation arose between those who blocked a road and those who wanted to pass. The brawl has brought this crazy situation of death and pain, ”said the mayor of Cali, Jorge Iván Ospina and called for calm and dialogue. In Candelaria, also in the department of Valle del Cauca, the murder of a young man who belonged to the so-called ‘front line’ of protesters was reported. According to the mayor of the town, Jorge Eliecer Ramírez, there was a “confrontation between the community and the young people who were on the barricades (blockades)”. The governor, Clara Luz Roldán, admitted that the security situation has overflowed and decreed a curfew from 7:00 at night.
In the midst of this degradation of the situation in some places, mainly in departments of the Colombian Pacific such as Valle del Cauca and Cauca, where in recent days a judicial headquarters and a mayor’s office were burned, the talks between the Government and the strike committee are craving stagnant. The preliminary agreement to install a negotiating table has not yet been endorsed, with the parties anchored in their red lines. While the strike committee demands as initial steps guarantees for the mobilization, that the police repression cease and that the president, Iván Duque, be forceful in condemning the abuses by the security forces, the Executive now demands that the organizations that call the marches reject and lift the roadblocks. Despite the deterioration of security in Cali, in the rest of the country there were peaceful marches a month after the start of the national strike.
Unblocking the roads has become a friction-producing priority, and the government now rejects the figure of humanitarian corridors that protesters have insisted on. “For the National Government, this point is not negotiable,” said Emilio Archila, Duque’s delegate for rapprochement. “We must make it clear that the blockades are a threat to the rights of all Colombians. They affect mobility, employment, entrepreneurship, the flow of goods and services, destroy jobs, ”the president himself emphasized this Friday in an interview with Blu Radio. “We not only have to reject them but also raise them with the full capacity of the public force in the territory.”
For the Government, the crisis has also played out in the field of diplomacy, as Colombia has been the target of an infinity of external criticism for the repression of the protests and the repeated episodes of excessive use of force throughout this month. . On that front, Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez has spent the week in the United States, where she traveled to contain damage as soon as she was also appointed as chancellor. This Friday he met with the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who according to his office “expressed his concern and condolences over the loss of life during the recent protests” and “reiterated the unquestionable right of citizens to protest peacefully.” The head of US diplomacy also supported the difficult dialogue between the Duque government and the strike committee, in addition to reiterating the Biden Administration’s commitment to peace in Colombia.
Despite the fact that the new foreign minister’s tour has been dominated by the tug of war around a visit by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to Colombia, as claimed by various social organizations, the meeting with Blinken is an achievement of the battered Colombian diplomacy. The government exhibited it as the first visit it has received from a Latin American leader. The social outbreak has occurred when Bogotá is still grappling with the rearrangement of relations with Washington after having bet on the re-election of Republican Donald Trump, which left many Democratic leaders irritated. Fifty congressmen from President Biden’s party have lashed out at the management of the protests and have even asked to suspend assistance to the Colombian police.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.