The Left Voice - May 5, 2021

The protests on April 28 were massive. In Bogotá, they were peaceful at first — so much so that I left the main square to go home and upload photos. But later, Colombia’s specialized riot squad attacked the demonstration, as it did in other parts of the country. The anger of the population was so great, though, that people did not bow down and rioting broke out practically everywhere. The police attacked the demonstrations with the usual weapons — tear gas, stun grenades, and batons. They also entered poor neighborhoods, firing not only their personal sidearms, which most police carry on them at all times, but also specially issued assault rifles. The results have not been surprising, and echo previous stoppages.

Figures on police violence are rising daily, but as of May 4 human rights groups had confirmed 26 murders by the police, 761 arbitrary arrests, and nine victims of sexual violence committed by the police. The Public Defender’s Office, which was slow to react, eventually acknowledged 50 disappeared people, although human rights groups believe the figure to be much higher. Some of these people may be released, others may be charged, and yet others will be killed and disappeared or have their bodies dumped, as occurred in Chile. Colombia’s police have borrowed another Chilean tactic: firing at the eyes of demonstrators. They have injured at least 17 people in this manner. 

The levels of violence are such that even a United Nations delegate complained of being attacked, while most European embassies, including the Irish one, have either remained silent or issued mealy-mouthed appeals for restraint and de-escalation.

The police violence has done little to stem the outrage and determination of the population. The marches on May 5 were also massive in character. In Bogotá, there were 35 separate marches throughout the city, with one major march in the city center and the rest in poor neighborhoods. Cali has seen the largest demonstrations in its history, and towns that have traditionally held May Day marches did so this year, despite the trade union bureaucracy pulling out. Even without them, the demonstrations were huge, and the decision of the bureaucrats left them exposed and further eroded what little authority they have. ...
Read full report at The Left Voice