Monday, May 23

Protests in Colombia: how violence took over the streets of the country (and why Cali is the epicenter)

  • Daniel Pardo
  • BBC Mundo correspondent in Colombia

A protester is hit by a Molotov cocktail during protests in Cali, Colombia, on May 3.

Image source, Getty Images


Cali became the epicenter of the protests.

Residents of Comuna 20 de Cali, the first and largest informal neighborhood in Colombia’s third city, organized a candlelight on Monday, March 3, in honor of the protesters killed after five days of violent protests.

“There were children and mothers, it was a family environment,” recalls Kevin Reyes, a social leader in the area. The celebration had taken the roundabout that connects the neighborhood with the rest of the city.

“Around 8:30 pm we began to hear that the Esmad (the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad) was coming … then a helicopter arrived in which the national anthem was playing and a reflector light was emitted as if it were looking for people,” he recalls.

And there began a confrontation in which Reyes saw “hooded police and military shooting semi-automatic weapons and rifles“.

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