Colombia: The Crisis That No One Talks About Anymore

By Alejandra Garcia on June 10, 2021


Colombia is no longer news. In the past 24 hours, over 50 people were injured by agents of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) during a new night of terror and police brutality. But few outlets of the mainstream media are covering the reality of this Latin American country, whose people have been protesting in the streets against President Ivan Duque for over one month. In fact coverage of this significant countrywide social uprising in the face of violent repression is practically nonexistent in the vaunted news agencies based in the US.

The fact that at least 70 demonstrators have been killed in the country in just one month amid the social outbreak is of no concern to the corporate media, which have echoed Duque’s insults to his own people. “Vandals, terrorists,” the president has called the protesters, who are mostly young people, women, social leaders, members of the LGBTI community, farmers, Indigenous people, and workers.

From time to time, EFE brings out reports on how the protests are coming to an end because social anger has subsided. “The ‘takeover of Bogota’ deflated with a march that was barely attended,” reads its most recent publication, which alludes to the call made by the National Strike Committee (CPN) to Bogota’s citizens to peacefully take to the streets this Wednesday.

A different story is told by Portafolio, a local newspaper: “Thousands of people marched chanting slogans against Duque and police brutality to the Tequendama hotel, where the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is meeting with NGOs, victims, and institutions during its working visit to the country to verify the human rights situation amid protests.”

Despite the heavy rain that fell on the city, there were balloons, slogans, flags, and tears for the victims of homicide, arbitrary arrests, rape, and police violence. As night fell, the agents of the state returned to attack the capital’s citizens with short and long-range weapons and tear gas canisters.

Videos posted on social networks show a group of demonstrators rushing several bloodied bodies to nearby hospitals. Other videos show people placing makeshift tourniquets over the face of a protester who was hit by a tear gas canister in his eyes.

Twitter has become an indispensable platform for denouncing the police brutality to which Colombians have been exposed. Thanks to these testimonies, the NGO Temblores reports that 70 people have been hit by firearms, 50 journalists have been harassed, assaulted, and detained, and 29 civilians have been arrested for documenting agents’ excessive use of force.

The government remains silent and immobile in the face of the ongoing human rights violations occurring in Colombia. Duque comes out of his burrow to point the finger at other governments in the region as responsible for the crisis he himself unleashed. He has set his sights on Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, but this is not news either.

It is not a surprise that the Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary-General Luis Almagro has recently requested the suspension of Nicaragua’s membership, due to the “unprecedented onslaught” of President Daniel Ortega against his opponents. It is worth clarifying that the “onslaught” refers to the house imprisonment of opposition leader Cristiana Chamorro, who is under investigation for money laundering, abusive management, and ideological falsehood.

While the OAS sets its sights on Nicaragua, Almagro remains silent on the 1,248 victims of physical violence and the 45 homicides committed by members of the security forces from April 28 to May 31 in Colombia.

The European Parliament, which is also part of Duque’s support network, has not raised its voice against the police brutality encouraged by the Colombian government to contain the protests either. However, it has wasted no time in trying to break relations between Havana and Brussels “for the violations of civil liberties” that are taking place on the Caribbean island.

“Everyone is to be blamed for this crisis: the strike, Santos, Maduro, the pandemic, the Indigenous people, and the cousin of the girlfriend of the neighbor’s son. Everyone, but the government. This is how these rulers are who we have to go through life with, crying when they are not in power and accusing the opposition when they are in power,” said Colombian journalist  Adolfo Zableh.

Colombia hurts, it hurts to see it so beaten and alone. But the pain is inescapably necessary, according to Zableh. “At last we understand that public interests are above private interests and that fattening ourselves with our hands full while others starve is the wrong way. The privileged ones have experienced just over one month something faintly similar to what the rest of the country has gone through their entire lives, and Duque is panicking.”

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – English