Two protesters were shot to death on Tuesday in the Colombian city of Cali while guarding one of several blockades carried out by protesters to show their discontent against growing poverty and inequality during the pandemic.
Both murders occurred after the Colombian federal government sent hundreds of military personnel to restore order in that southwestern city, where clashes between protesters and civilians opposed to anti-government protests and road closures killed at least five people a week. pass.
Municipal authorities in Cali said the two people killed Tuesday morning were shot by an armed man who fled on a motorcycle without being detained. For their part, the authorities have met with young people who in the last month have blocked roads around the city.
“We categorically reject these painful acts” when the negotiations are about to begin, said the Secretary of Peace and Citizen Culture, Danis Renteria. “We will continue our work in search of that dialogue in search of peace and reconciliation in the city of Cali,” he added.
Last week, the mayor of Cali said 13 people were killed on Friday during protests that included looting of an office building and clashes in which armed civilians opened fire on protesters trying to take over a police station in a sector. wealthy city.
In the videos broadcast on social networks, police officers are seen near those who open fire without doing anything to prevent them from firing at the crowds.
Due to the situation, President Iván Duque visited the city of two million inhabitants and over the weekend ordered the deployment of 1,100 troops to restore order and monitor the roads that lead to Cali, which were recently blocked by protesters.
On Sunday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, ruled that those responsible for the crimes perpetrated on Friday are answerable to the law.
“These events are even more worrying given the progress that had been made to resolve, through dialogue, social unrest, after the start of a national strike against various social and economic policies of the government,” said Bachelet.
According to the Colombian Ombudsman’s Office, at least 42 people have been killed in the protests that began on April 28 due to a fiscal plan that the government has since canceled.
In Cali, which has largely been the scene of violence, the protests were initially marked by cases of police abuse, but recently have included clashes between civilians who support and reject the protests.
In the capital of Bogotá, the protest leaders have met with officials to examine the conditions under which both sides could begin negotiating changes to social and economic policies.
However, negotiations have been hampered due to discussions about the rights of protesters. The leaders of the protest asked the government to reverse the deployment of soldiers in Cali and 12 other cities where acts of violence have been registered during the protests.
For its part, the government has asked the leaders of the mobilizations not to obstruct roads and ask their supporters to lift the blockades before the start of the negotiations.